Centers for Disease Control (CDC), typically, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population get the flu every year, with an average of 23,600 flu-related deaths. That's a lot for an illness that usually can be prevented. As they say- an ounce of prevention.
PREVENTION: So how does one prevent getting that nasty headache, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, fever or achy body symptoms the natural way? It's all about keeping your immune system boosted or at least balanced, since the best way to get sick is when you happen to be run down.
1. Make sure you eat a healthy diet full of whole grains, fruits and veggies.
2. Get some exercise and plenty of rest.
3. Take your Vitamin D3, year round. 1,000 to 2,000 IU per day is what is now recommended for adults, and some suggest doubling that amount during peak flu season (December through March). Research shows people with Vitamin D deficiency are more prone to colds and flu.
4. Take your Omega3s, year round. They are great anti-inflammatories, and antibacterials.
5. Wash your hands constantly. Especially if you are out in public. Carry around those handy alcohol infused hand sanitizers, like Purell, and use them.
6. Take Astragalus root, 6 to 8 weeks before the flu season starts. This Chinese herb boosts the immune system. I have taken it in the past and it was very helpful.
7. Yu Ping Feng Wan, is another Chinese herbal formula that can prevent the onset of the common cold when rundown. On several occasions my Acupuncturist has given me these little round black pills, and I managed to stay cold-free.
8. Increase your Vitamin C intake, although there are some who think this is merely hype, and that it doesn't really help.
9. Don't touch your nose, eyes or mouth.
Now one can't always prevent the flu or a cold, and some people are just more prone to them than others. But if you do start to feel like you might be catching one, the best time to attack it is right at the onset. Some of the herbal remedies I will recommend can help either stop it in its track, or at least lessen the duration and symptoms.
AT THE ONSET: So you feel that scratchy throat, or that tickling sensation in your nose, what do you do? You can try any of the following.
1. Take some Echinacea/Goldenseal. Antibacterial, antiseptic, and immune boosting, the combination of these herbs can prevent the cold from developing into its full blown nastiness. This used to work very well for me, but the immune boosting elements of the formula is not good for my Arthritis, so I am now unable to take it. And it's not something one should take for a prolonged periods of time.
2. Start sucking on Zinc tablets. I use Cold-Eeze. I follow the directions, but Prevention Magazine claims more than 50 mg per day, is not good. Just make sure you don't take the Zinc with any citrus fruits or liquids.
3. Southern Ban Lan Gen Chong Ji, is a hot Chinese herbal drink that you mix with hot water and is very useful to shorten the length of a cold or flu. This is another product that I have used and found very helpful. It is not recommended for pregnant women or diabetics, since it has cane sugar.
4. Eat some garlic. People always talk about giving people with colds chicken soup, but it's not the chicken that has healing properties, it's the garlic. Garlic is antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. People can be allergic to too much, so be careful.
5. Pump yourself with Emergen-C.
WHEN SICK: So you are now suffering with the various symptoms of cold and flu, but there are still some natural remedies that can help you get through the worst of it. First of all drink plenty of fluids, rest and stay home until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Use Kleenex when you cough or sneeze, so you don't spread the germs around. Those germs can last up to 48 hours (some claim longer) outside of the body.
1. Sore Throats: Gargle with warm salty water. Chew on several pepper corns- the juice will soothe the throat. It will make your eyes tear, but it helps. Take a teaspoonful of honey and swallow, honey has antibacterial properties and can soothe the throat. Drink some hot lemon water with honey, the lemon is chock full of Vitamin C and also boosts the immune system. Remember, though, young children should not be given honey. Drink some slippery-elm tea, which also coats and soothes the throat. Ricola throat drops. For more remedies check here.
2. Coughs: Fritillary and Loquat Extract, from my Acupuncturist, works wonders. Honey is also good for coughs. You can also try Ricola cough drops.
3. Fever: I have never tried it, but some people swear by egg whites to lower fever. Here are some interesting remedies for children that I'm sure would be helpful for adults.
REMEMBER if the symptoms become severe or last for a prolonged period of time, get ye to a doctor, ASAP.
PLEASE NOTE: Most of these things listed here I have used to great effect. The Chinese herbals were given to me by my Acupuncturist. Please check with your doctor or health practitioner before you embark on any herbal treatment for any condition. And please do your own research if you find something you might want to try.