Winter has arrived again, and alongside the rain and cold, we are also having to deal with the flu. The flu is caused by the flu virus, and its symptoms include a runny nose, high fever, weakness, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, increased lymph nodes in the neck and inflammation of the conjunctiva. (1) To prevent infection with the disease it is possible to get vaccinated, but there are those who are not interested in getting vaccinated for various reasons. In this article we will offer you other ways to help you beat the flu season and get through the winter in peace.
Influenza – a mild or dangerous disease?
Many of us confuse flu and colds, even though these are two different diseases. Unlike the common cold which is a milder disease that manifests itself in a runny nose and cough, the flu causes difficulty in daily functioning, it is more prolonged and is dangerous. Influenza can become complicated and lead to pneumonia, sinusitis and ear infections, and in rare cases cause exacerbation of chronic pneumonia, meningitis – Gillian Bar syndrome, myocarditis and may even endanger the patient.
According to the World Health Organization, 3 to 5 million people suffer from flu-like complications each year, and between 290,000 and 650,000 people worldwide die from the flu each year.
Those at risk for flu complications are people whose immune systems are as weak as the elderly, patients with malignant diseases such as cancer, patients with chronic diseases such as kidney failure and heart failure, overweight people, pregnant women and babies. (1)
To mitigate the effects of catching the flu, Healthcare providers offer vaccines that contain inactive flu viruses. It is important to know that there are many strains of the flu virus, and the sophisticated virus changes itself in its structure and character every growth cycle. Researchers try to estimate each year what strains will likely circulate in the coming season but they are not always accurate. If the estimation is off, the annual vaccines do not protect from the virus complications to the level they intended on. Beyond that, vaccination can cause various side effects that vary from person to person.
Grandma’s medicine for the flu
There are those who do not want to get vaccinated against the flu, either because the vaccine does not always work or because of the side effects of the vaccine. If you are looking for other solutions for treating the flu, there are some folk remedies that can help you deal with the symptoms of the disease:
Honey is an effective folk remedy that relieves flu symptoms like coughs and colds. Honey is antimicrobial, anti-oxidant and contains more than 180 chemicals like polyphenols which are antioxidants, flavonoids that help inflammation and vitamin C. Honey can be eaten in a spoon or in any other configuration but it is recommended not to drink hot tea with honey, because then, the honey loses its beneficial properties. It is important to know that honey should not be given to children under one year of age. (2)
It contains a natural component called “allicin” that may fight infections and airway congestion. In addition, it is antifungal, antimicrobial and antiviral. According to studies done in the field, prolonged use of garlic has helped flu symptoms and reduces the duration of the disease by one day on average. You can eat a clove of fresh garlic or add garlic to stews like soup. (2)
Cinnamon, ginger and turmeric are considered as spices that help to deal with the flu. Cinnamon has inflammatory response properties and it contributes to the immune system and reduces the symptoms of the disease. Ginger may help with perceived pain and aid calmness . Turmeric has inflammation supporting properties for respiratory and lung systems. (2)
There are many aromatic oils that are considered as go-to’s that help mitigate flu symptoms such as eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, rosemary oil and lavender oil. You can use massage oils, inject them into a humidifier or an oil burner. (3)
Grandma’s remedies for relieving flu or winter illnesses symptoms
Recommended diet for flu prevention and treatment
A balanced diet can help maintain the immune system and thus reduce the chance of getting complications from the flu and may even reduce the duration of the battle. For example, it is recommended to eat chicken soup rich in hydration, minerals and vitamins. Chicken soup is known as “Jewish penicillin” because it relieves flu symptoms such as airway and nasal congestion. (3) In addition, you should eat citrus fruits (4) that are rich in vitamin C which supports the immune system and helps in iron absorption from plant-based foods. (3)
Vitamins and herbs
Along with vitamin C there are many other vitamins that help overcome the flu by strengthening the immune system like iron, selenium, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin A (beta carotene) and copper. (3). You can consume these vitamins by eating foods rich with them (zinc for example is found in meat, dairy products, carrots, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, legumes and nuts) or consume them through supplements and thus make sure you get all the vitamins you need.
Along with vitamins, there are various herbs used to mitigate the flu, which can also be taken as dietary supplements. The astragalus plant may stimulate normal activity of the immune system and according to studies, it manages to shorten the duration of the symptoms. Black elderberry also helps the immune system and helps naturally with sore throats and body temperature. Another herb that you should be familiar with is Echinacea which helps the activity and production of white blood cells and thus fights infection responses and supports the immune system. (3)
Another way to improve the activity of the immune system is through exercise. Studies have found that people who exercise moderately for 40 minutes a day, such as cycling or walking, benefit from an increase in the amount of white immune cells that fight viruses and infections. (5).
Ensuring regular sleep
Lack of sleep has a negative effect on immune system function and lack of sleep may increase our susceptibility to contracting infectious diseases. (6). Therefore, it is very important to take care of sleeping the number of hours appropriate for your age. People between the ages of 18 and 64, for example, need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. (7)
So as you have seen, catching something you don’t want can certainly be mitigated and fought in natural ways as well. You should try to take supplements such as RENEW containing natural bacteria and herbs that support the immune system. This way you can reduce the chance of complication from getting the flu and other unwanted seasonal stresses. May we all have a healthy winter.