Mark Blumenthal: I think its prudent for people to consider ways to improve their overall immunity in any fall or winter season, in any year, independant of whether there's swine flu on the horizon or not. I've been saying for years that during the cold and flu season that people should A, get plenty of bed rest and make sure their body is acting in a functional, optimized immune manner. Make sure your immune system is working optimally. The fastest way to compromise your immune system is to get little sleep. I'm probably preaching to the... I'm having to do what I need to... I mean I'm the person that gets very little sleep. Five hours a night, maybe six, generally speaking. So I'm trying to teach myself to get more sleep this time of year. But that's just because I'm always working, I'm busy.
But that makes sense, get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet, get proper exercise. And then, I believe, take dietary supplements in a judicious, responsible manner. Particularly those supplements that have been shown to have some kind of immune modulating activity. The safety of those supplements in most cases is well established, and your not really hurting yourself and your probably giving yourself an opportunity to reduce your chances of the risk of any kind of cold or flu, independant of whether or not we're dealing with a season where H1N1 exposure might be an issue. Now I think that somebody who says that on the internet or says that in a public forum, who's not selling a product, that's first amendment free speech.
Raena Morgan: Yes it is.
Blumenthal: If you're saying that and you're tying it to a product that you have an interest in or that you're somehow fronting for in some way, then it's understandable why the agency, the FDA will take swift action on this and as a matter of fact, the Federal Trade Commission as well because they monitor advertising as well and they're very concerned in this area and they're cooperating with the FDA.
So even though many of us are grateful to see robust and quick enforcement and movement with alacrity by the FDA, we certainly don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. And I think the message is to consumers about how to improve, through lifestyle modification, which may or may not include getting a flu shot or the flu vaccine, that's their choice to make, of course and they should talk to their physician about that if they're not sure what to do. That's people's choice. But in addition to the flu shot, or the flu vaccine, people should just try to be as immuno-competent as they can be. And I believe that certain dietary supplements, particularly herbals, can be helpful, whether it's cold or flu, independant of H1N1. And I'm not promoting herbs for H1N1 at all, I'm just saying that a rational and intelligent thing could be, or should be, how do I improve my immune system most of the time anyway.
Morgan: I like that. Thank you, Mark.
Mark Blumenthal is the founder and director of the American Botanical Council. He discusses some natural steps you can take to help protect yourself and boost your immunity during what it typically known as cold and flu season.
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