2017 has arrived, and brought with it the start of one of the worst flu epidemics in years. What does that really mean, though? What, exactly, is the flu? How do you know if you just have a really bad cold, or if those are actually symptoms of the flu?
Influenza, while it shares many symptoms of the common cold, is actually a totally different virus with it’s own unique chemistry. Discovery Health‘s website has a great explanation of exactly what the Influenza virus is and how it works on the body.
Many people who suspect they have the flu head for the doctor or emergency room. Unfortunately, there isn’t much your doctor can do. Antibiotics don’t work on viruses, and can actually make the problem worse by weakening your immune system. While the best line of defense is a good offense, we don’t always take care of ourselves the way we should, so we leave ourselves open to things like the cold or flu. And, don’t even get me started on how ridiculous I think getting a flu shot is…
Preventing the flu is simple. Eat more fruits and veggies that contain vitamins and minerals that the body needs to remain healthy and function properly, especially those high in Vitamin C. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, dark leafy greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts and strawberries area all very high in Vitamin C, as are many herbs like amla root, rose hips, elderberry, echinacea, nettles, dandelion and yellow dock. Also, add some immune boosting herbs like astragalus, ginseng, golden seal, kelp, oregano and violets. Adding many of these foods to your diet will help stave off any bacteria and viruses that try to take down your system.
If, by chance, they get through your carefully (or not so carefully) natural defenses and you find yourself with a nasty case of the flu, go ahead and eat some of them, anyway. They will help rebuild a weakened immune system and will help your body recover more quickly. Don’t stop there, though. While most people spend 5-10 days recovering from the flu, here are some strategies that will help kick the flu in the butt much quicker ~ most often in 36 hours or less.
To provide your system with a quick, massive infusion of immune-boosting goodness, mix up this concoction:
Equal parts raw, local honey and fresh-squeezed lemon juice
4-5 cloves garlic, pressed
1″ piece of fresh ginger root
a pinch of cayenne
Mix them all up to make a liquid-y concoction and take 1 Tbsp every 1-2 hours until it is gone. Repeat until the flu is gone.
Sounds yummy, doesn’t it? Okay, well, maybe not so much. In fact, it is pretty vile tasting unless you just like that sort of thing. But, it works. Fast. As you are choking down this concoction know that I feel your pain, as do all the people living in my home. We keep an upgraded version of this on hand all the time. We laughingly call it ‘Zombie Juice” and are pretty sure it will protect us from every disease, both known and unknown, that has ever thought of existing, including the Zombie virus. It has a mix of potent herbs that lend a most interesting dirt-flavored addition to the garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and cayenne. My family only tells me they aren’t feeling well if the REALLY aren’t feeling well, cause they know what I’m going to ask…”Did you take a Zombie Shot?” I put it in a pretty bottle, though. Do I get points for presentation, if not flavor…?
Boost your Vitamin D by stepping outside and getting a healthy dose of fresh air and sunshine. I know…all you really wanna do is climb in bed and cry yourself to sleep, but I promise, ten minutes of this and you’ll feel better much faster!
Because the flu is a respiratory illness, you want to make sure and keep your lungs and sinuses from getting stuffy and congested, or dry and painful. Herbal teas will help sooth and clear the lungs. Mullein leaves, wild cherry, horehound, peppermint and catnip are all fantastic for any type of respiratory issue and can be taken in huge amounts without causing any undesirable side effects.
Don’t forget the neti pot! Again, keeping the sinuses free of mucus or excessive dryness, try this…flush the sinuses with a salt/distilled water mixture, then follow it with distilled water/olive oil rinse. Use 1/4 tsp of olive oil to 2 cups water. You don’t need much, but olive oil is moisturizing, antibacterial and mildly antiviral. Since the influenza virus enters through the mouth, nose and ears, this will help fend off and kill any bacteria or viruses that have taken up residence in your sinus cavities.
Speaking of ears, mix up this blend of essential oils to help fight the flu from this often-overlooked angle.
1/8 cup olive oil
Equal parts tea tree and lavender oil ~ 6-8 drops of each
Add 3-4 drops each of any of the following: rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, frankincense
If you don’t have all the oils available, use what you can get. Mix them up, then warm the mixture by placing it in a small pan of hot water until it reaches a warmth that is comfortable. Don’t use boiling water. Too much heat will kill the healing properties of the oils and cause the essential oils to vaporize off. Place 3 drops in each ear.
These oils are also great when you drop a couple into your vaporizer or humidifier
This oil works great for ear aches, too!
Herbal chest rubs are also very soothing and help deliver the healing power of herbs via the skin, so you get healing from the outside, as well as internally.
Hot, steamy baths with a couple tablespoons of Epsom salts thrown in will help open the pores of the skin to allow toxins to escape, they sooth and relax body and muscle aches, and the steam will help keep your lungs moist and pliable so they can expel the mucus that is congesting them. Take as many as you can stand, as hot as you can stand.
Don’t fight the fever. The fever is your body’s greatest friend during times of illness. I know…standard medicine says to take some acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower the fever. They tell you that fevers, especially high ones, are dangerous. The truth is, your fever will never progress past 105 degrees, and that is only dangerous if there is no moisture present. If you have a fever, drink as much water as you can to keep the heat in your body moist. The fever is ‘cooking’ out the bacteria and viruses that are causing the illness.
Finally, get some rest! Sleep brings with it the power to heal. Go with it. Sleep as much as you can. A few herbs that can help you relax and drift off are valerian root, chamomile, hops and catnip. Find out more about their benefits in my other post, Searching for Sleep
Remember that the flu doesn’t have to be dangerous. There is no way you can avoid the discomfort that comes with it, but you can definitely minimize the duration and severity of the flu.
Most importantly, don’t stop giving your body the things it needs just because you get to feeling a little better. Keep it strong by eating plenty of colorful, nutritious, preferably organic fresh fruits and veggies. Drink lots of water. Get plenty of fresh air, sunshine and light exercise.