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Protect Yourself: Natural Cold & Flu Fighters

Benefits of green tea

Natural immune boosters such
as green tea can help you fight
off cold & flu symptoms.

Why should anyone worry about fighting the flu with natural methods when all you have to do is get a flu shot and be safe?

It may be fear of needles, allergies or just widespread anecdotal evidence that very often, flu shots just don't work. Fact is, with or without the annual flu shot many of us may still come down with typical symptoms each winter.

Flu vaccines are created to protect you from the type of flu that researchers think will be active. If they guess wrong, or if the flu strain mutates, the vaccination won't do much good. All flu strains are viruses, so also don't count on an antibiotic shot to help.

Cold or flu - what's the difference?

While the flu and the common cold share common characteristics, there are ways to tell them apart.

A cold usually brings on sniffles, chest congestion and a sore throat The flu may bring on the same but more severe symptoms that are longer lasting. In addition, colds may sometimes result in a low grade fever, but a flu fever may literally sweep you off your feet and into bed. Joint aches are another major flu symptom, and often in children the flu virus may invade the intestinal tract causing nausea and vomiting.

Boosting your immune system

Take a tip from those who have allergies to the traditional flu shot, or who have relied on alternate means to help boost the immune system: green tea, garlic, black elderberry, and Vitamin C are just some of the more easily available choices indicated in recent studies as either protecting against aches, fever and congestion, or reducing overall symptoms of common Influenza A and B as well as the swine or bird flu virus.

In addition, a lesson you probably learned as a child also seems to reduce risk — that is, washing your hands. It's an old preventative that also guards against spreading the flu.

Proper nutrition, exercise, and adequate sleep are also highly recommended as important habits to cultivate for warding off general illness and for maintaining optimum health.

But if you do get the flu, here's more you can do.

Green tea - Shown in studies as natural anti-viral and antibacterial remedy, it is also recommended by some doctors and medical nutritionists in capsule form as a supplement to your daily vitamin regimen. No matter what the source, green tea is a natural immune system booster that may help you get you through the worst of winter season symptoms.

Black elderberry extract - Indicated as a strong remedy for colds and flu, black elderberry is a natural anti-viral agent. Look for it in capsules, lozenges, or syrup form at your local health food store where it is also generally available in sugar-free formulations for diabetics.

Olive leaf extract - Also known as oleuropein, olive leaf extract is converted into elonolic acid within the body, a process the drug companies cannot patent. Along with its antiviral and antibiotic indications, in some studies the extract has been shown to lower blood pressure and control sugar levels. Look for it at your local health food store in in capsule or liquid form. The typical recommended daily dose is 500 - 1000 milligrams. Consult with your doctor if you are already taking antibiotics, or if you are on a blood pressure or diabetes medication regimen.

hot toddy
A hot toddy works just like Nyquil to
dry a runny nose, ease congestion, and
lets you get some much-needed rest.

Garlic - Used for centuries as a natural antibiotic and antiviral, modern formulations are now available in pill form. Odorless garlic remedies also are available, but some nutritionists recommend that in odorless form the essential ingredient has been removed, and so recommend enteric-coated garlic. The enteric coating helps the pill dissolve deeper in your digestive track to directly combat the flu virus...and doesn't result in garlic breath.

NOTE: Since garlic is a blood thinner, consult your doctor if you are currently on an aspirin or prescription blood thinner regimen.

Hot toddy - Yes, the age-old remedy your maiden aunt prescribed actually works! Just add a shot of your favorite booze to hot tea and lemon for an extra "kick" for drying up your nose and easing congestion. The alcohol will also help you get some much-needed rest, which also helps your immune system better prepare to fight back the flu. Only don't overdo it -- one before bedtime and no more. Too much alcohol will make you feel worse, not better.

Vitamin C - Popularly known as an immune booster, many studies have shown Vitamin C to have marked beneficial effects for people who are malnourished and/or under stress - the perfect description for those of us during the winter holiday rush. Increase your chances of avoiding the bug with maintenance daily doses and increase the dose when you feel the first signs of cold or flu coming on.

Zinc - Homeopaths usually prescribe zinc supplements for colds and flu for its beneficial action in helping to strengthen your body's defenses against cold and flu viruses.

Along with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, be sure to get enough rest - and avoid stress whenever possible - and you'll naturally have a good shot at fighting off colds or flu this winter and in every flu season to come ...

also see in Health -> Alternative Medicine | Myths & Facts About the Flu

More about natural flu remedies around the Web:

Flu Treatment and Care- WebMD

How to Boost Your Immune System - Harvard Health


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