Unless you live under a rock, you would be hard pressed to escape the recent media hype about the outbreak of the Ebola virus. But how much do you know about this disease? When did it first occur and why the sudden media obsession with it? Is it really as bad as they say it is?
As Dr. Tom Frieden, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said about this issue: “It is the world’s first Ebola epidemic, and it’s spiralling out of control. It’s bad now, and it’s going to get worse in the very near future. There is still a window of opportunity to tamp it down, but that window is closing. We really have to act now.” Additionally, Gayle Smith, senior director at the National Security Council said that, “This is not an African disease. This is a virus that is a threat to all humanity.” With such alarming statements, should we not look into ways to control this without their help because as stated further down, they have no cure or treatment.
What is the history of the virus?
The first outbreak of the virus occurred in 1976 in Zaire, and is named after the Ebola River which flows along this region. At the same time, incidents of the disease occurred in Sudan. 284 people were infected at this time, and 53% of the infected died. In Yambuk, Zaire, a second strain of the virus occurred a number of months after the first outbreak. This led to the infection of 318 people, with 88% of those dying. In 1989, after infected monkeys were brought from Mindanao, an area in the Philippines, to Reston, Virginia, in the USA, a third strain of the virus emerged. This outbreak was not as serious as the previous ones, with only a few people being infected, and no deaths occurring as a result. In 1994, an ethologist working in the Tai Forest, Cote d’Ivoire, became infected with the disease after dissecting a dead chimpanzee.
When considering the numbers infected with the disease, along with the deaths that have occurred, the current outbreak of the virus is by far the worst. According to the World Health Organisation, from mid-August, 2014, there have been close to 2,000 suspected and confirmed cases of the disease, along with 1,069 deaths. Despite only recently appearing in the media, the current outbreak actually began in December 2013, when a two-year-old Guinean boy died of the disease, and was shortly followed by his mother, sister and grandmother. Two people who attended the boy’s funeral then contracted the virus, as well as a health worker, causing it to be spread to other villages. According to the World Health Organisation, by March of the following year, the virus had spread to 4 districts in Guinea, and by the end of May, 281 people were infected with the disease, 186 of whom had died as a result.
From Guinea, the virus then spread quickly to other countries in Africa, including Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 442 suspected cases reported by July. Since that time, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Benin, the USA and Spain have all reported suspected cases of the virus.
It is reasonable to ask why Ebola is so much more serious than other viruses. A reasonable answer is simply the mortality rate: up to 90% of those infected with the disease have died as a result. Additionally, the incubation period for the virus is between 2 to 21 days, making the potential for passing the disease onto others very real. The virus is passed on to others through contact with bodily fluids or the bodies of the victims.
There is a range of symptoms linked with the Ebola virus; however, many of the early symptoms displayed are the same as those experienced with other illnesses such as the flu, making it difficult to accurately diagnose, until the more serious symptoms begin to show. Some of the more common symptoms of the disease include muscular pain, severe headache, fever, muscular pain, weakness, diarrhoea, stomach pain, lack of appetite and vomiting. Some of the more serious symptoms reported by some patients include rashes, hiccoughs, red eyes, chest pain, sore throat, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and, perhaps the most disturbing, bleeding in and outside the body, including from the nose, eyes, rectum, mouth and ears. Bleeding can also occur in any skin punctures that patients may have, such as puncture wounds from an intravenous drip. The disease can cause the body’s organs such as the liver, kidneys and central nervous system to fail, which can bring about death.
Research into the virus has demonstrated that one reason it is so lethal is that it causes a disruption in the body’s normal immune response to infection: it interferes with the body’s distress signals that help to protect against disease, making it more difficult for it to fend off the virus.
Experimental drug is all that western medicine has as a defence:
What scares many people so much about the disease is that there is currently no cure for it offered by mainstream medicine. Likewise, medical doctors are unable to give an explanation as to why it is causing death in so many patients while others are able to recover from it. There is an experimental drug called ZMapp, on which trials are currently being conducted. However, work on this is still in its infancy, and while some who have received it have recovered from the disease, others have died in spite of it. To date it has not been approved by the FDA. Work has begun on developing a vaccine against Ebola, but is likewise still in early stages of development and has not yet been proven to be safe.
Currently, mainstream medicine treats the disease by checking that the patient is sufficiently-hydrated, both orally and intravenously, that their blood pressure is at a stable and healthy level, and that any other complications that the patient may have are treated. However, aside from perhaps making them a little more comfortable, this does very little to help someone whose immune system is struggling to overcome the disease.
Though the mainstream media may not highlight it, there is a number of natural, alternative treatments that can help to strengthen the immune system of the victims of Ebola, as well as helping to ensure that those who have not succumbed to it continue to remain disease-free. What is outlined below is not limited only to Ebola, but can be applied to basically any illness, regardless of its severity.
We’ve heard it said that prevention is better than cure. Instead of waiting until the Ebola virus claims a victim here in Australia to take action and work on strengthening our health and wellbeing, why don’t you begin to take a proactive approach now? Building up our immune system before we are exposed to a disease, rather than waiting until after, when we are displaying symptoms, and our body is working overtime to kill the virus or bacteria, is the best approach. Diet, exercise and supplementation with food-based vitamins and minerals are all examples of how this can be done.
(The 10 all natural and healthy steps to conquering Ebola or any virus without side effects)
Diet is one of the most important ways of arming our immune system and helping it to fight any nasties it is exposed to. The best thing to do is try to include as much raw food as we can, as raw food has a far higher vitamin, mineral and enzyme content than most processed or cooked foods. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and seeds all help keep the cells of our body well-nourished, allowing them to perform their respective jobs. Varying the foods we consume helps us to know that we are feeding our bodies with a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
In order to help move the blood around our body, we need to exercise. The more we do this, the more oxygen is transported around the body, and the more-easily our body is able to heal itself. When we exercise, we sweat. When we sweat, our body releases toxins from our body, easing the load on the immune system. Exercising releases hormones known as endorphins—sometimes called the ‘feel-good hormone’. This is what gives us that buzz we feel and puts us in a good mood after our body has been moving. Endorphins have been proven to ease depression, and help with overall wellbeing.
Taking food-based supplements can help to strengthen our immune system, so that if we were to come into contact with a serious disease, we may experience a milder form of the disease, and recover from it more quickly, if not avoid succumbing to the illness at all.
Getting into the routine of having a daily green drink can help us to make sure that we are consuming a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals to keep the body and immune system in good shape. While there are hundreds of different green drinks available, each with slightly different ingredients, a good one should include at least some superfoods such as algae, alfalfa, spirulina, wheat grass and kelp. Your daily green drink can either be mixed up with water and chugged down, or added into a cup of fresh juice. It may not be the nicest tasting thing on the market, but it is well worth it in terms of your health.
If you were to choose one herb to take regularly, Echinacea is it. When you are being exposed to people who may be infected with a disease such as Ebola, take a minimum of 4-6 droppers full of an Echinacea tincture 3-4 times each day. It is important you use a good-quality Echinacea. In the case of a tincture, to test its quality, place 2 droppers full under the tongue. If a tingling sensation begins, and lasts at least ten minutes, but possibly even for twenty, you can be assured that your Echinacea is of a good strength and quality. If, however, you feel no tingling, unfortunately your Echinacea is too weak to do your immune system much good.
Garlic is another fabulous herb in the quest for a strong immune system. This wonderful plant has been proven to have both antiviral and antibacterial properties—particularly raw garlic. In the event of the outbreak of a disease such as Ebola, it is recommended to take 15 or more cloves a day. While this may sound excessive, if it means you avoid an illness that those around you succumb to, it is worth the effort.
Another way of taking garlic is through the feet, where all the body’s nerve endings can be found, as this way it travels through the bloodstream and helps to kick the immune system into action. The way to do this is to firstly massage the feet with olive oil. Next, blend crushed or finely-grated garlic with a petroleum jelly product such as Vaseline. (The Vaseline helps to hold the garlic in place as well as to ensure that the garlic is not exposed to bare skin, causing it to blister.) Apply this paste so it is at least half an inch thick, over the sole of the feet only, and cover it with gauze or a cotton bandage, which can, in turn, be covered by a sock. This should be done before bed, so the patient can sleep while the garlic is working its magic. In the morning, you should feel your symptoms easing. (You will probably need to air out your bedroom though, to rid it of the garlic smell!)
Consuming an anti-plague or Super Tonic formula can also be effective in warding off illnesses, particularly when taken in conjunction with Echinacea. An internet search will provide you with instructions on how to make your own super tonic formula, such as this one.
The worst symptom of the Ebola virus, the bleeding that can occur from the nose, ears, mouth and eyes of Ebola victims, can be as a consequence of low levels of Vitamin C in the system. Eating foods high in this vitamin, particularly fruits such as grapefruits, limes, lemons, oranges and mandarins, can not only help to boost your body’s levels of Vitamin C, but also assist your immune system to generally function well. Vitamin C is one of the vitamins that your body cannot produce on its own, so it is important to ensure we include it in our diet. Additionally, the peels of citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons contain even more Vitamin C than the flesh, if you can stomach it. Rosehips are also one of the highest sources of Vitamin C, and rosehip tea or tincture are both fantastic ways of incorporating this food into your diet.
In the event of a fever, it is important not to make the mistake that most people, including doctors and naturopaths, make: do not stop the fever. Do not rush off to the medicine cupboard and grab the Panadol to bring the fever down—let your immune system do its thing. Our body knows the best way to heal us and help us recover from illness, so doing anything that prevents it from working the way it was designed to is counterproductive, and can cause us to stay sicker for longer. When our body temperature rises, it means that the body has encountered an infection and is working to fight against it. In terms of a scientific explanation for a fever, chemicals called pyrogens are released by the body, and into the bloodstream. The pyrogens then enter the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain whose role is to regulate body temperature. They then bind to receptor sites in the hypothalamus, which causes the body to increase its temperature.
There is one particular pyrogen, called Interleukin-1 (EL-1), which the body produces when macrophages (you may know these as ‘white blood cells’) are exposed to viruses and bacteria. One purpose the IL-1 serves is to call upon other white blood cells (helper T cells) to help fight against the pathogen that the body has come into contact with. A fever helps to speed up this process by as much as 64 times. Therefore, reducing a fever artificially, through the use of medications, stops your body’s way of killing infection. Many people worry that fevers may have a negative impact on the body, but providing you stay well-hydrated, this is unlikely.
If you experience a fever, drinking a lot of clean (preferably filtered or distilled) water is important—at least 4 litres per day is recommended. The body often loses fluids during a fever, as fevers can cause you to sweat, so you should drink even more water than when you are well. Perhaps even more beneficial than water is drinking diaphoretic teas (teas which cause your body temperature to rise, and therefore, cause you to sweat). One such tea your mother may have made for you when you had a cold: hot water, honey, lemon and ginger. Another such tea can be made from the flowering tops of the Yarrow plant. Drinking 3-5 cups of teas such as these, while sitting in a bath as hot as the patient can tolerate, can help encourage the body to recover more quickly. After around 20 minutes of sitting in the bath, the person can stand up, and drench the body in cold water with the shower. This process helps the blood to circulate more effectively around the body: the hot water brings the blood to the surface of the body, which is why our skin turns red when exposed to it, and the cold water takes it away from the surface, and into the body’s core. When the blood circulates effectively, the macrophages therefore circulate effectively, and help to kill the infection.
Allowing the person to rest in a bed that is covered in sheets made of natural fibres, is important. Natural fabrics such as cotton, wool or bamboo, allow the skin to breathe, which is prevented when synthetic fibres are used. This is particularly important when there is a fever involves, as the body often needs to sweat, as a means of regulating temperature and releasing toxins. Repeating steps 9 and 10 once each day can help the body to recover speedily when infected, or stimulate the immune system of those wanting to take preventative action.
Of course we all hope that Australia continues to be free from Ebola. However, it is good to know that, should it make its way to our shores, there are natural ways of strengthening our body’s defences and putting up the best possible fight against it, and other diseases like it.
Christopher, J.R 2001, School of Natural Healing, Christopher Publications, Springville, UT
About the Author
Stephen is a natural herbalist, as well as the founder of Eureka Wellness, a health and wellness centre in Australia, which highlights the importance of a raw diet with juicing, exercise, and clean water and air, as well as herbal supplementations. Eureka Wellness works with patients whom the doctors have dismissed as incurable. Stephen’s specialty is with late stages of diseases such as cancer, and helping patients to take control of their health once more.