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General characteristics

General characteristics

Flu, or influenza, is a viral infection belonging to the Orthomyxoviridae family of viruses (classified as types A, B or C), an infectious type of disease with a variety of different strains. Once infected with a particular strain of flu, it is thought unlikely to become re-infected with the same (or very similar) strain in the future.

Symptoms of flu include headache, fever, chills, body and muscle aches, sleep disturbance, watery red eyes, gastrointestinal disturbance, stuffy or runny nose, chest pains, cough and extreme fatigue and can present for several days. It should be treated with herbs and natural remedies to speed up the healing and reduce the risk of secondary complications such a pneumonia or a worsening of an existing condition, especially in the very young, elderly or infirm.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

During the first few days of influenza it is better to avoid solid foods and consume fresh fruit or vegetable juices ( especially citrus fruits) mixed with water to thin them down and make digestion easier since the entire body is preoccupied with dealing with the effects of infection. Homemade soups that have been liquidised and thinned with extra water are also nutritious and warming.

Include garlic, onions, ginger, horseradish, mustard, black pepper and chilli in your juices, herb teas or soups for their warming and immune enhancing properties.

Drink plenty of fluids to stay well hydrated.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

A tea made from dried yarrow, boneset, peppermint, thyme, elderberry and elderflower will help ease many symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches and headache. Use equal parts of each and add a teaspoon of manuka honey, a squeeze of fresh citrus juice and a pinch of ginger root and drink at least 3 cups daily.

Ground ivy could be added to the above forumula for an additional decongestant effect.

Echinacea tincture can be useful to boost the body's natural defences so take a teaspoon 4 times a day in some water or juice.

Star anise is a herb that has been shown to have good effects against flu as has angelica root and lemon balm. Use equal parts of the dried herbs and perhaps alternate between the above tea recipe and this one throughout the period of infection.

Dandelion root can be taken in a tea to help prevent flu.

Taking capsules of medicinal mushrooms such as reishi over the winter months can boost the immune system and may prevent future infections.

Burdock root can help to improve the immunity by feeding beneficial bowel bacteria. Use regularly as a tea throughout the Autumn and Winter if you are prone to infections like flu. Add some elecampagne root for its warming and anticatarrhal actions.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Get plenty of rest and keep warm but allow good ventilation in your sick room.
Make an inhalation to relieve blocked nose or sinuses using olbas oil or other essential oil mixes containing peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree etc.
Take warm soothing baths with essential oils such as lavender to relax and comfort you. You can make the bath a more cleansing one by adding a tablespoon of ginger (powdered or freshly crushed) to the bath in a fabric bag. This will encourage the skin pores to open and expel toxins via the sweat glands.

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