Recently I got the flu. Unfortunately, I ignored my own flu prevention best practices.
And let me tell you, when you haven’t had a case of the flu in over 15 years, you kind of forget how really awful it can be. Fever, chills, and aches left me out of commission for days.
Plus, the headlines plastered across the news had me a little concerned. In North Texas alone there have been 68 flu related deaths this year. This is not exactly what you want to think about while you’re huddled under a mound of blankets, sucking on a throat lozenge.
I learned while researching this article that the Center for Disease Control estimates there were approximately 380,000 flu related hospitalizations during last year’s 2012-2013 season Obviously, no matter the year, we should never take flu risks lightly.
This year the flu reached epidemic status during the week of January 19 – 25 when 7.5% of U.S. deaths were reported due to flu and pneumonia illnesses.
Younger people at higher risk for this year’s flu
The majority of this year’s cases were the H1N1 strain. This is a strain that hits younger and middle aged people harder than older ones.
Why people younger than age 65 are so susceptible to this strain is still in question, but researchers have a viable theory. It appears that a similar strain of H1N1 flu was the dominant flu in circulation for about forty years in the last century, from 1918 to 1957. So people born during these years probably received exposure to the virus, leaving them with some residual immunity. This may explain why people in their late fifties and sixties are less likely to get sick, and if they do, are less likely to develop severe symptoms.
Even though the H1N1 form of the virus has probably peaked, it is likely to hang around for another 3 to 6 weeks. Then a smaller wave of flu will often hit in March or even as late as April. This late hitting round of flu is often from the Type B strain of the virus. So we still have a couple of months of flu ahead of us…
It’s not it’s too late to share a few tips for boosting your immune system and treating the flu naturally. By using these tips I managed to go without a cold for four consecutive years. However this year I dropped the ball,by not having a bottle of my natural immune booster at home when I needed it. Like I said earlier, I ignored own flu prevention best practices and paid the price.
Alternative medicine for the flu
Here’s what I do. At the first indication of a cold or flu, I begin taking Phyto Shield at every meal. I try to carry a few capsules with me, so at the first sign of a scratchy throat, I pop a couple. Among other things, this formula combines echinacea, zinc, astralagus root and garlic.
Echinacea works by supporting the body’s natural defense mechanisms. Using garlic as an alternative medicine goes back to the days of Hippocrates, when the “father of modern medicine” would prescribe garlic for everything from respiratory problems to fatigue. Among other things astralagus root and zinc are both also used to boost the immune system.You get the idea, there are some powerful immune boosters in this formula.
Aromatherapy as a natural holistic medicine
Besides the Phyto Shield, I also use aromatherapy. First let me explain, since I know the word aromatherapy tends to conjures up images of spa facials and long relaxing baths. Although, aromatherapy has a place in both places, what I am talking about is using aromatherapy as a natural alternative medicine.
By using oils that were extracted using a low temperature low pressure steam distillation process, the essential oils retain their therapeutic benefits. These are the only type of oils I use. Many inexpensive oils found locally use chemical distillation process. With this type of production you contaminate the oil with a solvent. The last thing I want to do is add a chemical contaminant to my natural healthcare regimen.
My favorite oil for colds and flu or any type of infection is a blend called Thieves. This oil was developed using a blend of ingredients that made their debut back in the Middle ages during the black plague. Called the “Thieves Vinegar” or “Marseilles Vinegar”, it was used as protection again the dreaded virus. The modern day Thieves blend contains clove, lemon eucalyptus, rosemary and cinnamon bark.
I used the oil diluted; one drop of oil to four parts of vegetable or olive oil. I then rub the oil over my throat (if it’s sore) and over my chest. This is an amazing oil that has a wide range of uses. I’ve used it to treat bug bites, stomach aches, bladder infections and once to treat an infected cat scratch.
If I am able to start this process at the first sign of virus, I am often able to stop its progress.
However for those times, when like me, you didn’t have your immune boosting herbs and supplements available or the virus managed to break through your defenses anyway, here are a few tips that should help.
Natural remedies for the flu
Make an infection fighting tea – This is a recipe my naturopath shared with me. The garlic in the recipe is a natural immune booster. Into a cup of hot water add the juice of half a lemon, a teaspoon of honey and a minced (or pressed) clove of garlic. This drink packs a wallop and is surprisingly effective against chest congestion.
- Supplement your diet with Apple Cider Vinegar – Add 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to 6 – 8 ounces of water and drink. This potassium rich drink helps to break up mucous and may help you avoid a sinus infection.
- Use a Vaporizer or a humidifier – Use this inexpensive device in your bedroom at night while you sleep. The added moisture in the air will help ease nasal congestion.
- Drink plenty of fluids – Fever can leave you dehydrated and a a dry or sticky mouth will only add to your discomfort. Dehydration can also make you feel weak, so it’s important to drink plenty of fluids while you’re ill. Water and herbal teas are good choices. It’s also okay to drink coffee, but don’t count it toward your total fluid intake since coffee acts like a diuretic. If possible, avoid sodas. Any sodas that contain high fructose corn syrup can lead the the depletion of vitamins and minerals.
- Rest – Alway listen to your body. If you’re exhausted, then head to bed. Your body uses the time spent sleeping to heal and rebuild.
- Keep taking your vitamins – Whenever possible stay on your vitamin supplements. Vitamin C and products designed to boost your immune system, like Phyto Shield, may help you recover faster or ease your symptoms. If your throat is very sore and you find it difficult to swallow, a powdered vitamin C dissolved in water may be easier to take.
Of course, if you find yourself coughing excessively or having a difficult time breathing, it’s time to call your doctor.
Hopefully, by following these suggestions and getting plenty of rest, you’ll feel better fast!