Since I've spent the last week sick with one of the three major reported flu bugs for the year, I have become a statistic along with almost everyone I know. We evidently have a triple flu season: severe stomach flu, a huge whooping cough outbreak, and a surge of laryngitis and throat problems. Fall of 2012 was a banner year with 22,048 flu cases reported to the Center for Disease Control compared to 849 the previous fall. Make sure you have a few supplements and foods handy for protection. We need continual protection this winter from this triple threat of flu viruses.
Easy Kitchen Ideas
When cold symptoms first flare up, you can start taking Echinacea and astragalus to strengthen the immune system. Vitamin D can be upped to 5000 I.U's. The best food ideas include garlic and ginger for their anti-viral, anti-bacterial and immune stimulating help. Elderberry syrup can lessen the symptoms of the cold or flu and shorten the duration of the infection. Begin gargling salt for sore throats and spraying a mild salt.
A meta-analysis published in Lancet Infectious Diseases found that the Echinacea lowered the odds of developing a cold by 58 percent and shortened its duration by about 1.5 days. Rich in antioxidants, amino acids, and minerals, astragalus was even better than Echinacea at activating immune cells in one pilot study (Phytotherapy Research, June 2006).
At the start of a cold eat two cloves of garlic daily, usually mashing or chopping it up and letting it stand for five minutes to activate its key compound (allicin) and mixing it in with food. If you must cook garlic, add it to your dishes just before they are done. Cooking can destroy the beneficial properties, so it is best eaten raw.
Ginger root is another folk remedy for cough, colds and sore throat. It's used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat coughs and is also for colds accompanied by runny nose with a clear nasal discharge, headache, neck and shoulder aches, and a white tongue coating.
Hot ginger tea is a popular home remedy for cold symptoms and sore throat. Honey and lemon are sometimes added. Try this recipe: Slice up a two-inch chunk of fresh ginger root and cook in 4 cups of water for about 20 minutes. After straining the tea into your cup, stir in the juice of half a lemon and a tablespoon of honey. Even though it's a natural anti-inflammatory and should be fine for most sore throats, ginger is spicy and can burn or irritate strep throat. Don't forget natural cough drops made with these ingredients.
One study found that elderberry could cut the duration of flu symptoms by more than 50%. Another research project suggests that elderberry extract in syrup form can cut flu duration by about four days (Journal of International Medical Research, March/April 2004)
Don't forget essential oils can be valuable during flu season. For example, Thieves is an ancient answer to pandemic viruses (available through Young Living).
Drink plenty of water. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Milk drinks will form a thick mucus layer in the lining of the throat area causing more irritation and coughing. There are several brands of herbal teas made specifically for colds and the flu.
Visit your natural health care practitioner to stock up on a few other must haves. Smart Silver, Homeopathic Virus Combinations, Immuplex, Vitamin D, Congaplex and INF Fighter are some examples. (Contact our Overland Park office for more information 913-396-2774)
Influenza: the Flu Virus - One Minute Medical School