Looking to nature for help
It’s been a rough flu season in Edgar County and East Central Illinois — and it’s still going strong.
According to public health officials, the number of influenza cases in the U.S. increased by 23 percent last week and may include as many as 5 percent of the population. There were 16 flu-related deaths reported this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bringing the total of flu-related deaths to 53 for the season beginning in October, 2017.
"We have not hit our peak yet, unfortunately," said Kristen Nordlund, a spokeswoman for the CDC. "It is not going down yet. Really, the bottom line is there is still likely many more weeks to go."
Caused by viruses, flu is a contagious, respiratory illness with mild to severe symptoms that can sometimes lead to death.
Because influenza is a virus, it’s tough to treat other than letting it run its course. Tamiflu is an antiviral medication your doctor can prescribe to treat or prevent infection from Influenza A and B. This medication works by preventing the spread of the flu virus in your body. Tamiflu comes in either pill or liquid form.
There are natural remedies you can use to help relieve influenza symptoms, according to Josh Axe, a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist.
Vitamin C helps with immune system function and boosts white blood cells. He recommends taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily to ward off a cold or the flu and up to 4,000 milligrams daily when you are experiencing symptoms.
Vitamin D is produced in the body by sunlight and regulates the expression of over 2,000 genes, including those of the immune system. Recent research shows that low vitamin D levels are linked to higher rates of cold, flu and respiratory infections. Many physicians believe that current recommended daily amounts of vitamin D are far too low, and that 2,000 rather than 200-400 units per day is a better choice. To treat cold or flu, take 2,000 units per kilogram of body weight once a day for three days.
Echinacea is a herb can help your body fight off infections, but it is best to take it at the first sign of illness. Researchers found echinacea effectively treats respiratory tract infections in the short- and long-term. Echinacea acts as an anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce bronchial symptoms of cold and flu. Among the recommendations include taking tablets containing 6.78 milligrams of echinacea extract, two tablets three times a day or 900 milligrams of Echinacea root tincture daily or five to six cups of echinacea tea on the first day of symptoms, and then 1 cup a day thereafter.
Elderberry is an herb that some believe can deactivate the flu virus and naturally boost immunity. The flowers and berries of elderberry are said to boost the immune system, treat flu and relieve sinus pain. Elderberry does seem to attack flu viruses and reduce bronchial inflammation. A preliminary study found that it reduced severity and length of flu symptoms when given at the first signs of symptoms.
Zinc supports immune function and has an antiviral effect. It works best when taken at the first sign of illness. Zinc may lessen the symptoms of the cold virus but excessive amounts aren’t good for you. Zinc pills and sprays do not seem to be effective. Take 50–100 milligrams of zinc daily to ward off or treat cold and flu symptoms.
Axe also recommends certain foods to aid in recovery. Among those are light, easy to digest foods including soups with bone broth, cooked vegetables as well as herbal teas to help with digestion. It is also important to remain hydrated, he said, which is the key to flushing out the virus from your system. He recommends drinking half your body weight in ounces daily as well as at least 8 ounces of green or black teas every two hours. These contain potent immune system-boosters and antioxidants, he noted.
Hot water with lemon, honey and cinnamon helps prevent mucus buildup, Axe said. He also recommends making a ginger tea and adding raw honey.