(NaturalHealth365) As autumn and winter arrives, bringing cooler weather and colorful leaves, it also ushers in something much less welcome: the beginning of flu season – and the potential for fevers, body aches, sniffles and coughs. Plus, the endless promotion of toxic ‘remedies’ like the flu shot.
To ease symptoms, conventionally-trained doctors may prescribe Tamiflu, considered the gold standard of flu medications. Yet possible side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and coughing – and this for a medication that only shortens the duration of the flu by – at most – one day. To top it off, the Centers for Disease Control acknowledges that out of 1,148 seasonal flu samples, 1,143 – or 99.6 percent of them – were resistant to the drug.
Flu symptoms can be eliminated naturally without the need for toxic drugs
The good news is that properly supporting and enhancing your immune system can help you avoid the flu entirely. If you do come down with the influenza virus, an entire arsenal of natural remedies awaits, all with the power to prevent or banish your uncomfortable symptoms – safely and effectively.
With powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting effects, vitamin C just may be the rock star of natural flu treatment. Megadoses of this vitamin can enhance the body’s response to oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, stimulate the activity of natural antibodies and help to combat microbes and viruses. High-dose vitamin C also spurs production of interferon, which prevents cells from being infected in the first place.
In a study published in 1999 in Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapy, researchers found that megadoses of vitamin C – 1,000 mgs hourly for the first six hours, then 1,000 mgs three times a day thereafter – cut the severity of cold and flu symptoms by a stunning 85 percent.
Oregano oil’s key ingredients – thymol and carvacrol – have antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Loaded with natural immune system-boosters, including potassium, zinc and manganese, oregano oil can soothe nausea and vomiting and alleviate diarrhea. For maximum benefit, opt for P73 oregano to ensure that the beneficial polyphenols in the oil will not be under 73 percent.
Natural health experts advise adding 3 to 10 drops to a tablespoon of water, swishing the mixture around in the mouth, swallowing and then repeating the process. Oregano oil can be used four times a day until the cessation of symptoms.
Olive leaf extract
Olive leaf extract’s active ingredient, oleuropein, has potent antiviral properties that allow it to interfere with the reproduction and replication of viruses. In addition, olive leaf extract has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial qualities. Its ability to enhance phagocytosis – a process in which immune cells called phagocytes surround, engulf and destroy pathogens – can help your body clear the influenza virus rapidly.
Olive leaf extract may be brewed into a tea or taken in capsule form.
To treat intestinal flu symptoms, you may need to look no further than ginger root. Clinical studies have shown that it reduces nausea and vomiting – so successfully that it is often used to alleviate nausea resulting from chemotherapy.
Ginger root is available in capsules and powders, and may be brewed into a tea. You can also utilize its stomach-soothing effects by sipping organic ginger ale throughout the day. Because ginger root can interact with certain medications or supplements, you should check with your doctor before trying it.
Elderberry extract, scientifically known as Sambucus nigra, effectively inactivates viruses. Its antioxidant properties allow it to target free radicals that impair immune system function, while its immune system-enhancing qualities help increase production of disease-fighting lymphocytes.
For maximum benefit, elderberry extract should be taken at the first sign of the flu. Marketed under the name Sambucol, elderberry extract is available in syrups or lozenges.
Made from the leaves of an Australian evergreen tree, this pungent oil is not to be taken internally. Breathing the fumes, however, is an excellent line of defense against infections in the nasal passages, sinuses and lungs, and eucalyptus oil has been found to be especially useful against the H1N1 influenza subtype.
To use, put 8 to 10 drops on a handkerchief and keep it close enough to your nose so that you can readily inhale the fumes. You can also add 10 to 15 drops to a vaporizer – or a pan of boiling water – for a steam treatment.
According to clinical research, zinc gluconate lozenges can shorten the duration of uncomfortable flu symptoms by an average of three days, and many natural health experts recommend taking one 23-mg zinc gluconate lozenge every two hours. However, don’t use this remedy for more than a week, as zinc overload can cause a copper deficiency and weaken the immune system.
This time-tested standby of herbal medicine increases immune response while inhibiting viral activity. Researchers believe echinacea is capable of binding to receptors on the surfaces of white blood cells, helping to activate them. Echinacea is available as a liquid extract; herbalists advise taking 5 to 10 drops in a ¼-cup of water, up to 5 times a day.
Active hexose correlated compound, a safe and non-toxic mushroom extract, stimulates the immune system and enhances the function of natural killer cells – which seek out and destroy viruses. AHCC can also increase production of interferon and stop viruses from replicating. The compound is often sold under the name ImmPower.
As vitamin D is notable for strengthening the immune system, it is wise to supplement throughout the winter – especially when natural sunlight exposure is minimal. Vitamin D helps to activate the natural killer cells, neutrophils and monocytes that are part of the body’s security force against pathogens.
Natural health experts recommend adults take between 4,000 and 5,000 IU of vitamin D a day. If flu strikes, increase the dosage to 1,000 IU per pound of body weight, and maintain this amount daily for a week.
Since 80 percent of your immune system is located in the digestive tract, it makes sense to defend against flu by taking probiotics – which support the growth of beneficial bacteria while creating an unfriendly environment for those that are harmful.
Like vitamin D, probiotics should be taken through the winter months for the best preventive effect. For maximum results, make sure your probiotic mixture contains both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species.
Don’t forget: you can ramp up your body’s defenses against flu by eating the proper foods. For example, whey protein powder supports and enhances the immune system with ample amounts of sulfur-containing amino acids; it also contains immunoglobulins, which help foster immunity.
Cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and kohlrabi also stimulate the immune system with their rich stores of glutathione.
To ramp up dietary intake of infection-fighting zinc, eat ample amounts of peas and beans. Snack on oranges and grapefruits for their high levels of antioxidant vitamin C, potassium and anti-inflammatory quercetin.
And don’t forget the spices – flavorful seasonings like rosemary, oregano, cinnamon and cloves are bursting with antioxidants. One food to avoid, of course is refined sugar. Sugar can enhance the growth of harmful bacteria and decrease immune function.