So here we are in January and the ‘flu’ season begins! Is it just a ‘cold’ or is it the ‘flu’ that is making you feel so unwell? Here are a few of the differences to help you decipher:
• Flu symptoms come on very suddenly whereas a cold is more of a gradual onset.
• With a cold you sneeze more
• With flu there is an early onset of a sore throat that continues, but with a cold you have a cough later peaking at day 2-3
• You can have severe muscle aches with flu, a cold may bring slight aches.
• With flu you probably feel very fatigued, with a cold it is mild.
• Flu produces burning chest symptoms, there are none with a cold
• There is a high fever with the flu but none or very mild with a cold
• The flu can last a whole week whereas a cold 3-4 days
• With flu you may suffer vomiting and/or diarrhoea, not so with a cold
• Headaches are more severe with flu
What can you do to help yourself to heal if you have a cold or the flu?
1. The old adage of feeding a cold and starving a fever – is that right?
Obviously you have to eat, but a light diet is best for both colds and flu, and foods that will help to heal. Whenever you eat you take away the resources from you immune system fighting the illness, to fighting instead, other bacteria, viruses and harmful agents that are in your food. This promotes further inflammation that in turn will cause a longer recovery time.
Cut out all processed foods and all sugar, and feed yourself foods that will boost your immune defences. Colourful foods such as berries, citrus fruits and green vegetables to make you more alkaline because viruses cannot exist in an alkaline medium, Bone broth is a wonderful food when you are not feeling good, and eating pre and probiotic rich foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, fermented foods and vegetables help to feed your gut-beneficial bacteria and encourage a strong immune system. 75% of the immune system is in the gut!
2. It is important to stay well hydrated because your immune system relies on a well-hydrated body to stimulate the detoxification pathways needed to encourage enzymes and other biological agents that help flush pathogens from the body and repair damaged tissue.
Polyphenols are compounds found abundantly in plant food sources that have antioxidant properties, Those found in lemons, apple cider vinegar, herbal teas, ginger and anti-oxidant rich broths repair the immune system and help to clear microbes along the digestive tract and help to alleviate sore throats and cough symptoms.
3. Healing herbs with antioxidant and anti inflammatory effects can be powerful weapons to eliminate contaminants in the body including harmful microbes.
European countries effectively treat colds and flu with plants and herbs such as Echinacea, blackcurrant, sea buckthorn fruits, raspberry, oregano, chamomile, ginger, thyme, willowbark, garlic and onion.
Garlic and onion contain a compound called ‘allicin’ that contains sulphur and provides many ways of healing the body from inflammation.
4. Essential oils on the immune system has been well researched, and also their topical use to treat symptoms of cold and flu. They contain antiseptic compounds that fight viruses and reduce inflammation. Essential oils can be indirectly inhaled by a room diffuser, directly inhaled to alleviate sinus pressure, massaged onto the skin or added to a bath or lotion.
Oils such as:
• Eucalyptus oil regulates the immune response and supports cell mediated pathways including their innate attack on pathogens. It’ a great decongestant in a steamy bath and will help you sleep better.
• Frankincense oil contains Boswellic acids that stimulate the immune system and serve as a potent anti-inflammatory compound.
• Oregano oil has great antibacterial properties and inhibits the growth of E Coli and pneumonia causing bacteria.
• Thyme oil has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and when taken orally show significant anti-inflammatory and antibacterial responses in the gut increasing cytokines to help fight infection.
• Citrus oil is great to help fight fatigue, and best inhaled to suppress tissue damage and regulate cytokine activity.
• Clove oil has tremendous ability to destroy bacteria that accumulate in the oral cavity creating inflammation and free radical damage. A great way to help with sore throats is to add a drop of clove oil to your toothpaste when brushing your teeth and reap the benefits of this powerful astringent.
5. Vitamin D3 is essential for the immune system reducing inflammation and autoimmunity. We get our vitamin D from sunlight and so at this time of the year when we seldom see the sun in this country it is very important that we take it in supplement form.
6. Vitamin C is essential for optimising the immune function and destroying pathogens. It stabilises the white blood cell count and prevents the depletion of glutathione, a very important antioxidant in the body. Some of the highest sources of vitamin C are found in spinach, leeks, chives, kale and sweet bell peppers and also lemons and limes. Using these vegetables and fruits in a green smoothie or added to bone broth whilst you are unwell is a great way of increasing your vitamin C levels to fight infections. Taking 2 grams of a vitamin C supplement, every hour that you are awake will help to clear the infection quickly.
7. Zinc is a mineral that is largely depleted due to influences from our lifestyle. An unhealthy diet high in sugars and carbohydrates inhibits zinc absorption as do phytic acids found in grains and legumes. The overuse of medications, especially non steroidal anti-inflammatories, also increase the deficiency of zinc in the body. Zinc increases the performance of the powerful antioxidant Superoxide Dismutase that protects the cells from viral infection and damage. It also increases the immune response against pathogenic activity and reduces inflammation in the body. Foods that contain zinc are cashew nuts, almonds, spinach, asparagus, raw cacoa and wild salmon. In the winter months it is well worth taking a zinc supplement of 50mg to prevent coughs and colds.
8. Blockbuster: a supplement that contains pycnogenol one of the most powerful supplements with a history of well-documented research. It is made from the bark of a white pine and contains strong antioxidants. Research confirms that Pycnogenol is 50 times more powerful than Vitamin E in its antioxidant properties and 20 times more powerful than Vitamin C. It also contains Grapeseed Extract which is a concentrated source of oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC). These anti-oxidants help protect cells from free radical damage and also promote healthy circulation. Blockbuster also contains a powerful collection of enzymes, including Serrapeptase, that work as anti-inflammatories.
9. Hydrosol Silver is a powerful silver solution. Silver has been used for family protection for 2500 years with no known side effects. The active ingredient in Hydrosol Silver is a unique patented silver Technology. It is a strong immune booster and great to help with viruses, bacteria and fungal infections.
10. Homeopathy can be very helpful with colds and flu and here at The Wyndham Centre we use complex homeopathic remedies and have two great adjuncts to try:
• *Throat spray is a combination of homeopathics historically used to fight infection and support the immune system, while providing fast acting or long-term relief for throat irritations.
• *Flu Tone is a homeopathic drainage and tonification remedy designed to uplift and stimulate the immune system, which is essential in the prevention of the cold and flu
*If you require further information or would like to buy the Throat Spray or Flu-Tone please call the clinic on 01462 893586. They cost £19.51 each.