It’s Flu season again!

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Why do we seem to get sick as soon as winter comes?

Surprisingly, it’s not because the weather has turned cold. When mum told you to rug up otherwise you’ll get sick, it’s actually not strictly true, sorry kids!! (and mums!) Cold doesn’t make you sick, exposure to a virus makes you sick. Having said that, getting cold, especially suddenly as we have this year (I think Autumn forgot it’s turn!), puts a greater strain on the body, which means our immuhne system has to fight harder to cope, and when we’re exposed to a virus, we are more susceptible to it taking a hold.

Interestingly, the infectious flu viruses are more active in the winter and the rhinovirus or common cold is more active in the spring and autumn!

The other reason we seem to get sick more in winter is because the gene responsible for suppressing inflammation is more active in summer. This puts us at greater risk of being susceptible to infection. Inflammation is also the body’s response to a whole host of toher conditions in the body, which is often why winter is so much tougher on our bodies than the warmer months.

Viruses can spread through the air in a typical office, doctor’s surgery, plane or train infecting people after just one hour. Touching a surface that someone has coughed or sneezed on recently and then rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth is another common way a virus will spread. Dry air may also contribute to the spread of the flu virus (indoors as well as outside).

So, why do we feel so terrible when we get the flu?

The flu virus causes symptoms which are the body’s natural attempt to eliminate the infection. For example, the body raises its temperature (i.e., produces a fever) high enough to kill the infecting organism and increases mucus production to attempt to remove the virus (such as blowing the nose and sneezing) and soothe irritated tissues that have become inflamed due to the immune system’s response.
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How do we avoid getting sick in winter?

Stress can have a huge effect on our immune system. Managing how our body responds to stress and reducing it’s effect through regular relaxation, (yoga, meditation) taking regular time out for yourself and dealing with issues as they arise rather than letting them fester;will all help to minimise the damaging effects of stress on our immune systems.

Eating plenty of foods that boost the immune system such as; garlic, onions, leeks, richly coloured foods such as blueberries, beetroot, carrots (especially the purple variety), leafy greens, sprouts, oily fish, green tea, ginger, turmeric and red wine (1 glass only…sorry!) can all help to support and strengthen your immune system.

Other immune boosting foods include soups and casseroles made with a bone broth (check out my recipe for bone broth here;

Drinking plenty of healthy fluids such as; water, herbal teas containing immune stimulating herbs (I have a lovely Immuni-Tea from Health Blends here at Equilibrium Natural Health) and freshly squeezed juices made from vegetable and fruit combo’s.
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Avoiding foods that promote inflammation such as fast foods, processed foods, food additives such as preservatives, flavourings and colourings, sugar and artificial sweeteners, refined carbohydrates (bread, pasta, pastries, biscuits, cakes etc), caffeine and alcohol. These are all foods that can suppress the immune system.

Dietary Supplements & the Flu

  • Betacarotene—200,000 IUs daily
  • Bioflavonoids—1000 mg daily
  • Garlic—3 cloves of garlic per day or 2-3 capsules or tablets 3 times daily
  • Vitamin A—25,000 IUs daily (do not take more than 5000 IU daily if pregnant)
  • Vitamin C—500–1000 mg every 2 hours
  • Zinc—one zinc lozenge containing 23 mg of zinc every 2 hours
Doing a Vitamin C flush may help to reduce the risk of infection or fight the infection if you are already sick. I have vitamin C powder specifically designed for this purpose here at Equilibrium Natural Health.
Here’s how to do it;

Herbal Medicine & the Flu

These herbs are often used to treat flu symptoms:

  • Astragalus (Astragulus membranaceus) – antiviral, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulator and an antioxidant
  • Andrographis (Andrographis Panniculata)  – anti-microbial, immuno-stimulant, particularly for upper respiratory infections and is an anti-inflammatory
  • Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) – antiviral, an anti-inflammatory, and an immunomodulator
  • Elderberry (sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis) – especially effective at stopping the flu virus from replicating, reduces a fever, immune-modulator, anti-microbial
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – antiviral, an anti-inflammatory, and an immunomodulator
  • Oregon Grape (Mahonia spp.) – astringent, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and it supports the immune system.
  • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) – Is a particularly effective antiviral and anti-inflammatory

Call me if you want a herbal mixture, I can design it to deal with specific symptoms you are suffering from. It’s not a good idea to self-medicate with herbs as some can interact with other medications and may not be appropriate when suffering from other conditions or sensitivities.

As with all medications, more is not better and overdosing can lead to serious illness and death.



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