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Green is the New Black…Tea! The 2014 Flu Shot Controversy

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As we face the peak of influenza season, reports indicate the flu vaccine appears to be effective only half the time against one active strain this year – the H3N2 virus, which mutated from its original strain.

So…should you skip the vaccination this year? In a word: “No.” The vaccine still is effective in half the H3N2 cases and against the two or three other strains this year.

Why is it important to protect against the flu any way you can? Getting the flu can be more than just feeling lousy. For some people, it could create dangerous effects on their heart – especially for the elderly or patients with pre-existing cardiac disease. For them, the flu can increase heart rate and stress, which could result in hospitalization for a heart attack, angina or heart failure.

It’s important to understand there’s no one, fool-proof antidote to combat the flu…although the flu vaccine is your best bet. Bottom line: the flu is not to be taken lightly…for your overall health and, especially, for your heart.

If you cannot tolerate the flu vaccine for some reason, there may be another tool you can add to your anti-flu arsenal – Green Tea!

I was asked about this option, so I did some research and found several small, randomized, double blind placebo- controlled trials and observational studies that examined various green tea applications (liquid tea vs. capsule vs. gargle).

Green tea appears to have a protective effect against influenza.

In one study, patients who took ECGC (green tea) capsules twice a day had 31% fewer infections. A second observational study suggested children who drank more green tea were less likely to develop the flu. ECGC, or green tea, does not appear to have any negative effects and is thought to be effective because of the polyphenols naturally found in these teas.

So, this flu season, my prescription is – get your flu shot…and enjoy some green tea for the added benefits.

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