Artwork courtesy of Wellcome Library: Wellcome Library no. 18023i
The Beginning 2017 – The End 2018
Well folks, here we are again with the flu season. Just like yearly taxes, this round of influenza is already being called by a lot of names. Bad, Flu-pocalypse, Severe, Unusually Harsh, Unpredictable. Those are just a few of the terms in recent headlines from around the world. Australia has reported numbers at just under 100,000 confirmed cases, or about 2 1/2 times the norm. Most affected were the young and the old.
You don’t have to take it lying down and although medical professionals tell us that a seasonal flu shot will only be 10% effective, there are other ways to stave off the worst by using natural remedies for the flu or colds to keep us healthier and comfortable during this year’s viral spread.
Depending on where in the world you live, now is a great time to get that body of yours ready for a fight. You are the warrior and therefore must remain strong for all of those that depend on you. Nature is a strong warrior also, and with a little knowledge, an ounce of prevention is worth it’s weight in gold.
Identifying The Enemy – Common Cold
The common cold (acute viral rhinopharyngitis), is generally caused by coronaviruses or rhinoviruses, of which there are over 200 varieties to make you feel icky. Sneezing, coughing, runny nose, slight fever (more common in young children) and sore throat…you know the drill. Most colds will leave you feeling uncomfortable for several days and is considered a mild respiratory infection.
Photo Credit: CDC/Dr. Fred Murphy
Frequent hand washing is a must as a front line defense to abate the spread of a cold. Cough syrups, cough drops and over the counter remedies are available just about anywhere and most contain chemical sounding names that challenge your tongue on their pronunciations. Enter nature to the rescue! Want to fight a common cold? There’s a remedy for that. Get plenty of rest and lots of fluids to start with.
Good old fashion Vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) is a great place to start and should at least be an ongoing regiment regardless of the time of year. After all, colds know of no seasons in reality.
Vitamin C is found to be essential in combating heart disease and to lower your levels of those “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides (LDL’s).
You can find this supplement in many foods you consume on a daily basis but most know it in its tablet form. When it comes to colds, vitamin C has been found to shorten the duration and symptoms and give your immune system a great boost. Taken on a regular basis, smokers can help booster their bodies by taking at least 250 mg on a daily basis.
Don’t overdo it just because you’ve got a cold or the flu. High doses (over 2,000 mg) per day can result in side effects that are not pleasant. They can include, formation of kidney stones, nausea, gastritis and severe diarrhea.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) Found in eastern and central North America, this herbaceous flowering plant comes from the daisy family. The echinacea genus presents us with nine species, better known as coneflowers. This plant can be found growing in moist or dry prairies as well as open wooded areas.
For optimum viability, various studies have determined that it is not so much the herb that does the body good, but more towards the Echinacea extract from the plant. How effective will this be for you will depend on how well your body accepts it properties. Be sure to read all warnings regarding this product as it does contain alcohol and should not be used on children under 12.
The Other Opponent – They Call Me The Flu
How bad can it get? As noted at the beginning of this post, it’s bad. With the southern hemisphere just coming out of their winter season, the reports are just not much hope to look forward to. Best to be prepared as those of us living in the northern parts begin our season.
Just as getting a yearly shot against the flu, although they are barely effective at best for this round, finding natural remedies for the flu can give your body another layer of protection for the upcoming fight.
Photo Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith
First and foremost, STAY HOME! Try good old fashioned chicken soup if you can hold it down. Mom was always right you know. Just part of a natural instinct.
Work will have to wait till some other day. There is no need to show up in the workplace only to have you spread those darling little germs around perpetuating more problems . You’re not going to be giving yourself a chance to get better.
Time to take on this monster and it starts with some ZINC. This is an essential mineral for the body and is needed by every cell you have. Taken at first symptoms of the flu or even a cold for that fact, it will boost your immune system and aid in fighting upper respiratory infections and viruses. For best results, do not use on an empty stomach so that you can avoid gastric irritation or nausea.
Zinc does not replace but rather assists traditional methods of dealing with the flu and you should follow your health professionals advice and be sure to ask about any interactions that could complicate your healing when used with other medicines.
Influenza is a difficult matter to conquer as it continually shifts in its make up and always a bit different every year. Many have died from past epidemics throughout the ages and science just has not been able to get a good grip on the “grippe” (that’s french for the flu).
There is so much that could be written here about influenza that the pages of information alone on this subject would probably stack up all the way to the moon ( wonder if Alice Kramden is still living there?). Yet, we still do not have strong enough remedies to bring this monster to its knees. Science is currently looking for other avenues to create the much-needed medicine in a more viable and strong enough medium to greatly improve the percentages of effectiveness.
The Air You Breathe – Give Your Lungs A Chance
Other than medications you may be prescribed for your body, what you breathe is what you get and if the air is infected with germs, your body is not going to heal any faster.
There are many products on the market in aerosol cans that can assist you in your endeavor, but most of them are made from chemicals.
Another option is available for those who wish to stay within the natural realm of things. Eucalyptus essential oil can be used in a diffuser, if you have one, and would only require 2 to 3 drops. Another method would be to mix approximately 20 drops to 1/2 cup of water into a small spray bottle so that you can spritz the air several times per day in your home or workplace.
The hidden bonus of using eucalyptus oil as is that it can help reduce any inflammation in the lungs and lessen your discomfort.
There are many more natural remedies for the flu and by using any of the aforementioned or any others in your toolbox, you are giving yourself a fighting chance to come out well ahead and lessen the duration.
Just as mothers and health professionals around the world keep telling us, just follow some simple rules and get well. You do not want this monster to turn on you and become a pneumonia.
Using Common Sense – A Little Goes A Long Ways
One cannot stress enough the importance to wash your hands…a lot! Regardless of whether you have a cold or the flu, any of the suggested natural remedies listed above can be used to combat either malady. Don’t smoke while you have an upper respiratory infection as this will only hinder your recovery.
Although it is not much to offer, the intention of this post is to arm you with a little bit of common sense and a bit of nature to help you feel better. Take care of you and then you will be able to care of them.
Update: November 17, 2018 – The Numbers Are In
2017 – 2018 Influenza has come and gone but, not without leaving it’s mark. According to health authorities, what we now call “last years flu season” was deemed to be of high severity. The reason for the ranking is that to the CDC, the number of those affected by the strains was considerable enough to warrant placing the results into the archives along with other years of abnormal activity. There has been 9 pandemics in the last 300 years. Check out some of numbers below:
2017 – 2018: 79,000 deaths (U.S.). Of those numbers, 185 pediatric death were reported with 55% female and 45% male victims. According to the CDC, 80% of those pediatric victims did not receive any type of flu vaccination.
Approximately 1 million people (U.S.) needed to be hospitalized. according to estimates. The effectiveness of the vaccine was only 36% – 40% across the various strains. This percentage could have been higher had the strains in the vaccine matched the ones in circulation for the current year’s outbreak.
More work is being done and a serious look into developing a universal vaccine is in the pipeline. In the meantime, the predictions for the 2018 – 2019 flu season stands only at 19% effectiveness. So what is the bottom line? Some protection, although far from being considered high quality, is better than none. Along with some of the methods you can use at home mentioned above in this post, are some of your best defenses to apply to continue to stay as healthy as possible.
The Wrong Kind Of Anniversary – 100 Years
It has been a century since the worst pandemic in recent history. In 1918, 675,000 lives were wiped out in the U.S. alone, and up to 50 million worldwide. Some will tell you that we are due for another devastating event like this soon, but with the advancements in science and medicine, many want to question that theory. Best that as a society, we continue to push forward to do all possible to combat this enemy by becoming the warrior, the mighty warrior.
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Take care and be healthy!
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