Prevent the flu with my tried-and-true “Lady Macbeth plan”

Last year, I went on Medicare. Which means I finally get to choose my own doctor. And I went right back to my old doctor, who I saw from 1984 to 2012. Thankfully, he keeps up with the science and doesn’t bother me about the flu vaccine, concocted each year by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

But prior to seeing my old, enlightened doctor again, I was still on the terrible and costly private health insurance I had been forced to carry by the Affordable Care Act. (No, I did not get to “keep my doctor,” Mr. Obama.)

During one memorable visit to my now-dismissed doctor’s office, at least three different people offered me the flu shot. And they certainly didn’t want to take no for an answer.

So I mentioned to them that the U.S. Air Force had stopped giving the flu shot to its civilian employees years ago. And that got their attention. (For a moment, at least.)

Air Force stopped giving flu shots years ago

People generally think of the U.S. Air Force as an intelligent group of people. In fact, the Air Force Medical Corps grew out of the Army Medical Corps, when the Air Force became an independent branch of service after WWII.

The Air Force had convinced Congress that they have different and specialized medical needs. For example, Air Force flight surgeons have to help prepare pilots to fly at high altitude and astronauts to go into outer space. (I studied to join them while a Cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs from 1971-1972, as I’ll explain in more detail in the December 2019 of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter.)

So you’d think that by sharing what the smart people in the Air Force are not doing, it may change some people’s minds. Unfortunately, the zealous staff at my former doctor’s office still urged me to get the flu shot.

Which means that I simply refused them outright and explained that I prevent the flu with the “Lady Macbeth” plan. Clearly, from the looks on their faces, I needed to explain myself…

Adopt the Lady Macbeth flu prevention plan

As you may recall, Lady Macbeth, in Act 5 of William Shakespeare’s famous play, conspires to have her husband’s rivals assassinated. Then, she develops a spot on her hand, which she takes as a sign of guilt.

So, she keeps washing her hands, over and over, crying, “Out, damned spot! Out, I say…All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”

The “doctor of physic” in attendance answers honestly, “This disease is beyond my practice.” Then, later, Macbeth says, “Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll have none of it!”

And that’s what you should do too…

Just keep washing your hands with plain soap and water. It’s that simple! (Crying about spots is also optional, unless you’re doing the laundry.)

Flu vaccine concoction more like witches’ brew than science

As I explained last week, the CDC’s annual flu vaccine reminds me a lot of the brew concocted with hemlock and dragon’s scale by the three witches earlier in Macbeth.

Fortunately, you don’t need to jump into the CDC’s fire (or their cauldron). You can simply follow these sensible approaches to preventing the flu:

1.) Wash your hands regularly with good, old-fashioned soap and water.

2.) Avoid air dryers. In the February 2015 issue of Insiders’ Cures (“The shocking source spreading cold and flu viruses”), I first wrote about a study showing that hand dryers blast viruses around a restroom. (Not a subscriber? All it takes is one click!) And those viruses can linger in the air for up to 30 minutes. It’s pretty gross (and downright unsanitary) when you think about it…

3.) Carry your own pen and avoid touchscreens. The flu spreads primarily through physical contact. So, if you must go to the “doctor of physic” during flu season, bring your own personal pen. Also bring it to the bank, post office, restaurants, and retail stores. You can also use your own pen on touchscreens, which are virus-magnets, instead of your finger.

4.) Boost your immune system with a daily, high-quality vitamin B complex, along with 10,000 IU of liquid vitamin D. And if you feel a cold or flu coming on, take 300 to 400 mg each of echinacea (purple coneflower), along with goldenseal and elderberry extract supplements.

What if you still get the flu?

If—by chance—you do still get the flu, the CDC’s calculated contagion factor says you’ll probably infect only one other person.

So, you need not worry about the wild accusations that you put lots of people at risk by not getting the flu vaccine. And you certainly won’t be starting an epidemic.

On the other hand, a University of Maryland study found the flu vaccine actually fuels the spread of the flu virus. In fact, people who got the flu shot and still contracted influenza anyway (a common scenario, since the shot often doesn’t work) had 6.3 times more viral “aerosol shedding” of the virus (breathing it out into the air) compared to those who didn’t get the vaccine.

In the end…the annual flu epidemic will start with or without you. And it will go away again, on its own, as it does every year—without the help of the flu shot.

So, as the nights grow longer, cooler, and darker, brew your own hot infusion with ginger, honey, lemon, and turmeric to taste. It will help ward off the flu (and perhaps witches and damned spots). I also suggest pulling some Shakespeare down off the shelf for some more literary—and medicinal—enjoyment.