Liquids, sweat are potent cures for flu of '97 By Chris Woodall Lots of liquids and big heat to make you sweat — these are the common themes for suggestions to defeat the Great Flu Epidemic of 1997. Sixty to 70 per cent more people in B.C. have been bitten by the influenza bug than the average for past years, but it doesn't do you much to know that when you're flat on your back suffering from the violent virus. Because flu is a designer beastie — it seems to affect everyone differently — we called in a variety of experts to cull the very best remedies or preventives available in Whistler. "It's been a real epidemic in the past few weeks," observes Dr. Brendan Russell at the Plaza Medical Clinic. Hundreds of locals and visitors have been parading into his office to complain of fatigue, aches, sore throats and dizziness associated with influenza-A, the popular strain at the moment. The nature of the service industry's close personal contact with customers, and the international flavour of the visitor, make for a flu bug cauldron, says Russell. "Patients find they get over the flu only to be exposed to another strain and get the flu all over again," Russell says. If the flu really gallops through your body, it can encourage bronchitis or pneumonia. People over 65 and anyone with a chronic illness, like heart disease or diabetes, are particularly at risk. Flu shots are one way to build a Wall of China against barbaric flu attacks, but injectees need to wait a couple weeks before the anti-flu "cement" dries enough to do its job, Russell advises. It's not too late, however, to get a shot. The flu season peaks in March. How bad is the epidemic? The operating room in Powell River's hospital closed due to the flu, as did a mental health care facility in White Rock. Here in Whistler, businesses large and small have been running on stressful staff shortages. Internationally, by mid-December, all of France, parts of Spain around Madrid, the western and south-western parts of Switzerland, and eastern Russia were at epidemic levels of flu. For Dr. Russell, the basic cures are rest and lots of fluids. But what about chicken noodle soup, the traditional and still mysterious flu/common cold cure? "Absolutely!" the good doctor says. This is where our next expert comes in. Chef Bernard Cassavant is another chicken noodle soup enthusiast for fighting influenza. Until recently the head chef at the Chateau Whistler, Cassavant is opening Chef Bernard’s on the Benchlands. "Make it from scratch with lots of herbs and spices," says Cassavant. He uses whole wheat pasta for the noodles and ups the "zip" level with chili oils. There may be more to this than you think. A recent item on CBC Radio revealed that American doctors researching the powers of chicken noodle soup say there's a special enzyme that helps energize the body's immune system against cold and influenza viruses. Then there's shiatsu massage. A combination of pressure points and palming along the body can give the body more energy to deal with what's going on inside, or at least put you in a relaxed state to make a deep sleep easier, says Buffy Sullivan at Blue Highways Shiatsu and Massage. "Shiatsu pressure points actually clear the energy paths along the meridians that affect particular organs," she explains. There's a "lung point," for example, between the thumb and forefinger that helps eliminate fatigue. A good sweat has been suggested as an excellent way to purge the body. The high heat generated in a First Nations sweat lodge cleanses the pores and helps the body sweat away toxins, says Fraser Andrew of Mount Currie. If you can't find a sweat lodge, a visit to the Meadow Park Sports Centre steam room may be a poor second. But a steam bath may be best as a preventive, or post-flu aid, rather than something to do while in the throes of the flu beasts, says Daniella Cairns at All Seasons Spa, where they offer the Ayurvedic steam treatment. "It's not a flu treatment," advises Cairns. "But it's good for the circulation and respiration." The 5,000-year-old Ayurvedic steam method combines certain herbs in a personal steam bath depending on an individual's body type, Cairns explains. Combined with a massage, it could springboard you back onto the slopes. But the last word on flu cures goes to the doctors of liquid-ology behind the bar at Citta's. First there's the Jaegermeister cure, says "Doctor" Scott Gadsby. "There are 56 herbs and spices, so one shot of that should do the trick." For non-imbibers, "Dr." Scott suggests a stiff shooter of straight Tobasco sauce. Traditional bar cures include blueberry tea — a healthy dose of Grand Marnier, amaretto and tea — or a hot buttered rum that's heavy on Bacardi Naejo rum and slight on the water, says "Dr." Alex MacDougall. If you're desperate, there's the somewhat patented Dr. MacDougall's hard liquor cure: a very large quantity of rye whiskey mixed with a very small amount of ginger ale. "Germs don't like alcohol, so the more alcohol in your system, the less the germs like to be there," explains "Dr." MacDougall. Take two and call us in the morning.