What to do when you’re in the grips of the flu

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By Dr. Lydia Thurton

We’ve all been there. Aching body, cold sweats and hot flashes, splitting headaches and sniveling noses. Last issue, we talked about whether or not one should get the flu shot. For some of us that article simply came too late. We were reduced to shells of our former selves, bedridden and ill. Nobody has time for that! Nurse yourself back to tip top form and kick that flu to the curb.

By the time you actually feel sick, you have had the influenza virus for two days. Most people are infectious one day before they have symptoms and will continue to be infectious until day five. This is the time when you are a contagious menace to the general public. Healthy, happy people everywhere urge you to stay home.

So, you are quarantined at home and you have a fever. This is a critical decision making point. Do you take something to reduce the fever or do you sweat it out? Fever is an ancient bodily response. Many types of animals use an increase in body temperature to fight off infection. Fever can activate immune cells and make it uncomfortable for nasty bugs to survive. New research from McMaster University noted that almost 1,000 lives per year, in North America, would be saved if we nursed a fever properly.

A fever is not dangerous. However, infants are an exception. Keep their temperatures down. Children are fine with fevers under 39°C and adults up to 40°C. Use your instincts with children, if they are acting very lethargic or fussy it is worth consulting with a physician.

There are a number of wonderful herbs that have anti-viral effects. They are safe and can be used on the whole family. One of my favorites is elderberry syrup. This is a pressed juice of the sambucus berry. It is quite tasty and can be given to children. Juicing fruits and vegetables in general is very nutritious when sick. It provides the body with a tremendous about of vitamin C and antioxidants.

Echinacea purpurea is a well-known herb that can shorten the duration of your influenza infection by beefing up your immunity. The best researched Echinacea product is Vogels Echinaceaforce. Look for that brand at a health food store near you and follow the directions on the label. There are a number of more rare herbs, elecampagne, euphrasia, yarrow and old man’s beard that have been traditionally used for influenza infections. A naturopathic doctor or herbalist can help you use them properly.

Optimizing your vitamin D status is critical. There are numerous studies that show that people with low vitamin D are more susceptible to influenza infection. Vitamin D is an affordable vitamin, and the drop form is very easy to take. Adults should take at least 1000iu daily.

Getting the flu can really zap your vitality. Use sick time to rest, eat soup, drink fluids and be thankful for your health when it returns.

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