Influenza, or the flu, is a highly contagious virus which attacks the respiratory system. It spreads through the air and is hard to contain. Anyone can get the flu but the most vulnerable to this virus are people with a depressed immune system, such as the elderly and the very young, often with deadly consequences. Pregnant women are also at great risk of developing serious flu-related complications.
Flu symptoms include high fever - usually over 100 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit in adults and higher in children. The respiratory symptoms often start with a sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose, and often lead to a cough, similar to the common cold. Where the symptoms differ and show that it is more likely the flu’ than a cold is when there is a headache, muscle ache and extreme exhaustion. Occasionally this list can also include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, often referred to as “stomach flu”.
The virus typically runs its course over two weeks, and to stop the spread of this virus, it is advised to stay home. If you are exposed to anyone who is sick, or you are traveling or working in areas where you could be exposed, to minimize your chances of becoming ill, wash your hands on a regular basis or use a hand sanitizer. Use a nose and mouth mask if you are sick or around others who are sick.
Remedies include boosting your immune system with vitamin C, vitamin D, echinacea, elderberry, oregano oil, zinc can help reduce the symptoms and shorten the duration. Many of these remedies can also reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
A number of foods can also help reduce the incidence of flu and help speed recovery:
- Light broths, for when you do not feel like eating
- Hydration, for flushing out the virus
- Tea, either black or green, provide antioxidants to support the immune system
- Lemon and honey with cinnamon and hot water
- Ginger tea with honey
Essential oils can help with protection and also with recovery. Applying peppermint, clove and frankincense essential oils with a good carrier oil, such as almond or jojoba to your throat and sole of your feet can help to promote an immune boost and add an antibacterial barrier against infection.
Probiotics can help to restore the gut bacteria, which adds protection against any viruses or potentially harmful bacteria.
Wrapping up warmly and eating a good diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and getting regular exercise can reduce the risk of getting the flu. Stress reduction and regular sleep are other important good health protections during time when the flu is causing widespread illness.
Sally Warren, PhD Naturopathic Doctor
Metro Integrative Pharmacy
cdc.com, Draxe.com, Mayoclinic.org, cancer.org
Advice for flu protection:
One of the best methods of preventing the flu is a homeopathic remedy called Influenzium, which is a preparation of the annual vaccines in homeopathic form - small pellets to take by mouth, made each year to protect against the most recent strains. If you are exposed to the flu virus and have symptoms, Oscillococcinum can decrease the severity and length of your illness. Vitamin C is an excellent way to help your immune system and boost white blood cells, your soldiers fighting invaders. Since sunlight is reduced through the winter months, top up your daily D3 to help the battle against viruses and infections. Elderberry is an amazing herb for protection and to reduce bronchial inflammation. Take this herb at the first signs of a cold or the flu. Another herb which is a powerful ally with an action similar to an antibiotic, is Oregano oil, an antiviral herb that does so much more than flavor pizza. Wellness Formula is also a great supplement, which has all the herbs and vitamins in one dose.
Please come in to discuss any issues with Metro Integrative practitioners for assistance in selecting the best products for maintaining a healthy immune system and to avoid the viruses of influenza.
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This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.