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Natural Remedies for Flu

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As the world prepares for a possible near-term avian flu pandemic, people everywhere are wondering what they can do to protect themselves. As we all saw with the New Orleans flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina, we cannot expect the government to effectively manage a widespread emergency. Tamiflu is only available in small quantities and its effectiveness during an avian flu pandemic is questionable. While mainstream medicine doesn’t offer many options for treating viruses, certain natural remedies are known to have antiviral effects. These remedies have often been used for centuries with little or no side effects. There are means we can learn about now to strengthen ourselves in the event of an epidemic. These remedies can also be useful for the common flu we deal with every year.

During the last flu pandemic in 1918, 18 million people died from the flu in India. The herb credited with ending the epidemic in India at the time was Andrographis paniculata. Andrographis is traditionally used in China and India for viral and respiratory infections. Its effectiveness is confirmed by modern research. The andrographolides in this herb can improve immune system function. It can increase white blood cell production, activate the lymphatic system, and stimulate body cells to produce interferon. Interferon kills viruses and also stops their growth. This herb can help our own immune system fight viruses more effectively. Andrographis is often combined with Siberian ginseng to enhance its immune-boosting effects. This herb has been shown to be effective in fighting bacterial and viral pneumonia, which are complications that often follow the flu or cold.

Another herb traditionally used to treat viral diseases is isatis. It was recently used extensively in Asia during the SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak they were experiencing. It is also used for people with other viral diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis C.

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A herb commonly used here in the United States, elderberry has antiviral effects, making it useful for treating colds and flu. Elderberry prevents viruses from taking root in the cells of our body, making it difficult for them to enter and multiply.

The Chinese herbal formula Gan Mao Ling is widely used to prevent colds and flu at the first sign. It is most useful when taken directly when a person begins to feel cold and feverish. It has also been shown to shorten the duration of the flu if the person is already sick. Yinchiao San is another formula that can help at the onset of a cold or flu, right when a person is starting to have a fever with a sore throat.

Many essential oils used in aromatherapy have antiviral effects. Eucalyptus oil, lemon oil, ravensara oil, geranium oil, and thyme oil all have antiviral properties. These oils can be used in a massage blend diluted with a carrier oil or diffused in an oil burner, allowing us to inhale the oils’ antiviral properties through our lungs. A few drops can also be added to the bath water. Essential oils are among the most effective natural remedies for fighting infection. Don’t neglect their powers just because they smell nice.

Digestive enzymes, when taken between meals, are absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestines. These enzymes can help break down the proteins that make up viruses, destroying or inactivating them.

As you can see, there are many natural methods to increase our resistance and help in everyday life against flu and other viral diseases, for common ailments and also in the case of a pandemic emergency.

Thanks to Farah Khan

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