The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently revealed that last year’s flu season was a record breaker, killing 80,000 Americans.
It was a particularly nasty flu, a strain that tends to put more people in hospital and cause more deaths, particularly among the most vulnerable population: young children and the elderly. Additionally, the flu vaccine provided wasn’t very effective. Experts at the CDC say that this year’s vaccines will be a better match.
Even though it is strongly recommended that we all get vaccinated against the flu as season begins in October, some folks choose to opt out. In fact, the CDC reports that only 44 percent of adults received a flu vaccination last year.
While getting a seasonal flu shot is the single best way to protect against the flu, you can boost your immune system naturally to prevent getting ill.
“Many people choose to get a flu shot while others prefer to review the data to see if that is the best decision for them,” Dr. Ellen Kamhi PhD., R.N., author of the Natural Medicine Chest and a medical school instructor, tells Newsmax.
Kamhi says that whether or not you decide that the flu vaccine is right for you in terms of protection, there are natural ways to help build your own immunity to reduce the chance of getting sick or make the illness less severe.
Here are some suggestions on natural flu fighters and remedies:
*Wash your hands frequently. This the number one way to protect yourself. Plain soap and water is the best, but if that’s not available use an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Antibacterial soaps offer little protection, particularly against viruses.
*Take echinacea. This well researched herb increases the motility of white blood cells, the body’s soldiers that guard the immune system. You can find echinacea in many forms.
*Try goldenseal. When paired with echinacea, it helps curtail flu, colds and other respiratory infections. Goldenseal also soothes mucous membranes and when used as a tea, relieves sore throats.
*Eat maitake mushrooms. They are well recognized for their immune enhancing benefits. These mushrooms contain a wealth of beta-glucans, the mushroom’s active ingredient, which provides the extra protection the body needs during the peak cold and flu season.
*Get black elderberry. Bryce Wylde, BSc, an associate medical director at P3 Health in Toronto tells Newsmax that he uses this effective product for his own family and patients to prevent colds and flu. “Black elderberry contains flavonoids and anthocyanins which have a remarkable ability to stimulate the body’s immune system,” he says. A leading brand called Sambucol makes elderberry gummies which are great for kids and tablets that can be easily dissolved in water.
*Use salt water to treat that stuffy nose. Salt water rinsing helps break up nasal congestion while removing virus and bacteria particles. Mix ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon baking soda in 8 ounces of warm water. Use a bulb syringe or nasal irrigation kit to squirt the water up your nose, one nostril at a time.
*Take a steamy shower. Hot, steamy showers moisturize your nasal passages and may help you relax. If you are dizzy from the flu, run the steamy shower but sit on a chair nearby and inhale the vapor.
*Use a salve under your nose. A small dab of mentholated salve or breathing eucalyptus oil can help open the breathing passages and soothe irritated skin. Put the product on the outside, under your nose, not inside the nostril.
*Sleep with an extra pillow under your head. Elevating your head can help relieve congested nasal passages.
*Eat infection fighting foods. These include bananas and rice to curb diarrhea and soothe an upset stomach, blueberries which are high in natural aspirin to lower fever, chili peppers to open nasal passages, cranberries to prevent bacteria from sticking to cells in the urinary tract, and green tea that contains catechin, a phytochemical that may have natural antibacterial and anti-diarrhea properties. And don’t’ forget chicken soup! The warmth of the liquid combined with the nourishing broth can help you fight off infections and help you feel better when you are ill. Add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic into the soup for extra antibacterial and antiviral fighting power.
Remember, if your symptoms are severe and don’t appear to be getting better within a week or two, call your doctor.
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