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Preparing for Flu Season

Immune | April 6, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

Immune

Preparing for Flu Season

The flu is caused by the influenza virus which attacks the upper respiratory tract causing nasal congestion, sore throat, fatigue, body aches, fever, chills and a cough that can last for many weeks.  People with nutritional deficiencies and a depressed immune system, children and the elderly are the most prone to contracting the flu. Stress, poor nutrition and lack of rest can all worsen its symptoms.

How to reduce the symptoms of the flu and speed up recovery

Make sure you have these products stocked in your medicine cabinet for when the flu hits your household. For best results take at the first sign of the flu. If other people you have been in contact with have the flu you can also take the following products to reduce your risk of infection.

Products to have in your medicine cabinet

Echinacea

Echinacea is the king of immune boosters when it comes to herbal medicine.

It has anti-viral properties which allow it to reduce the severity and duration of flu symptoms.

Echinacea Angustifolia is the preferred species, especially in preparations that use the root only. It has been shown to reduce symptoms of the flu by 23% and can help you to get over the flu 3 days faster.
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Echinacea can be taken by itself or is commonly found in product formulations with other herbs and nutrients.

Andrographis and Siberian ginseng

A combination of these two herbs has been found effective for symptoms of the flu. It was shown to decrease the duration of symptoms to 6-7 days compared to 9-10 days for people taking conventional antiviral medications or other physician preferred medications. It also reduced post-influenza complications and days on sick leave. These studies reveal this combination of herbs to be superior to conventional antiviral medications for reducing the severity and duration of influenza infections.

Elderberry

Extracts of the berries are primarily used as antiviral agents for colds and flus. It is also an antioxidant herb that contains vitamins A and C, and quercetin—further enhancing its activity in the immune system.

It is renowned for helping to reduce mucous congestion in the sinuses.

Two studies so far have demonstrated an elderberry extract, Sambucol, effectively inhibits influenza A and B strains when given within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms. A pronounced improvement in symptoms of the flu was also reported after using elderberry for 3-4 days, while the placebo group required 7-8 days to reach the same level of improvement.

Zinc and vitamin C

These two nutrients are essential for proper immune health. They are both antioxidants that help to reduce the effect of viruses in the body and have also been shown to reduce the duration of the common cold. So far, all studies have been done on subjects with the common cold but as the symptoms are similar to the flu, these nutrients could also prove helpful. They are best taken in low doses every few hours and zinc has shown to be best taken in a lozenge form.

How your mums chicken soup helps you get over the flu

A good home remedy to bring warmth and comfort during times of sickness. But could such a broth be more than cold comfort? 

According to the scientific studies, the answer is yes. Research conducted in the American Journal of Therapeutics found that an amino acid called carnosine found in Mumma’s chicken soup is responsible for activation of the immune system during the early stages of the flu.

Adding sweet potato, carrots, turnips, garlic, celery, chicken and onion allow the body to receive a full range of nutrients important for the immune system including vitamin C, beta-carotene, protein, zinc, folic acid and sulphur. Having the ingredients well cooked and soft allows for easy digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

But it is not just the combination of nutrients in the soup that has an effect in the body, drinking hot fluids has also been found to clear mucous in the upper airways. Even though chicken soup was found to be more effective than hot water, it shows that herbal teas and inhalations with steam and eucalyptus oil may also prove helpful.

Herbal tea

Ginger has also traditionally been used for fever and influenza symptoms for centuries. It possesses anti-inflammatory properties—helping to reduce a sore throat and muscle pains.

Ginger allows the body to “sweat it out” by inducing a mild fever, which makes the immune system more effective at fighting a virus.
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To make a ginger tea, grate 1 tsp of peeled ginger, infuse in hot water for 5 minutes, strain and mix with some manuka honey and a slice of lemon.

Other herbal teas worth considering include:

  • liquorice
  • cinnamon
  • peppermint

Rest, rest and more rest

Pushing on through the flu only depletes the immune system even further. Allowing the body to rest and recover will reduce the amount of days you experience the symptoms. If you combine this with chicken soup and some simple supplements you will be well on your way to recovery in half the amount of time.

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References

Mousa HA. Prevention and treatment of influenza, influenza-like illness, and common cold by herbal, complementary, and natural therapies. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Jan;22(1):166-174

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2156587216641831

Roxas M, Jurenka J. Colds and influenza: a review of diagnosis and conventional, botanical, and nutritional considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Mar;12(1):25-48

http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/12/1/25.pdf

Babizhayey MA, et al. Non-hydrolysed in digestive tract and blood natural L-carnosine peptide ("bioactivated Jewish penicillin") as a panacea of tomorrow for various flu ailments: signalling activity attenuating nitric oxide (NO) production, cytostasis, and NO-dependent inhibition of influenza virus replication in macrophages in the human body infected with the virulent swine influenza A (H1N1) virus. J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2013;24(1):1-26

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23425625

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