Preventing and healing from the flu, naturally

Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER
Jimmy Lai/HIGHLANDER

As the weather gets colder and the nights get longer, all of us face the possibility of catching a nasty sickness, but have no fear: There are plenty of preventative measures one can take to ensure this doesn’t happen. However, in the case that it does happen, there are natural and efficient treatments one can do at home to make sure you get well, fast.

According to pioneering neurosurgeon C. Norman Shealy’s, “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Healing Remedies,” the “flu is a viral disease of the upper respiratory tract, spread by the contaminated droplets (via coughing and sneezing) of other sufferers.” Now, that in itself is startling because like so many others, I see students coming to school coughing, sneezing, blowing their nose, etc. while in class. Not only is it distracting, but it puts students and teachers at risk.

The first important measure to take when looking to prevent the spread of any illness is to wash your hands as often as possible, especially if you’re working or going to school with people that may possibly be sick. This small but crucial step can help in the process of staying well. If you’re starting to feel symptoms like a fever, sore throat, dry cough, runny nose, sneezing, headache, stiff and aching joints, muscular pain or nausea, please grab your favorite pillow and get some serious rest and relaxation. There’s no reason to put yourself and the people around you at risk of catching the common flu.

Traditional home remedies call for sufferers to drink hot lemon and honey in a cup of warm water to ease inflammation and fever. Not only is this mixture insanely good for you, but it’s tasty too! Another alternative comes from Ayurveda medicine, which suggests to crush ginger root, add to it a little honey and lime and drink as needed. If that sounds too spicy, gargling with lemon juice helps to kill germs and stop the spread of the virus. Warmed apple juice (preferably fresh) will also ease the fever.

As far as vitamins for both prevention and treatment, foods or supplements rich in vitamin C, bioflavonoids and zinc encourage healing, help to fight infection and boost the immune system. Aromatherapy would encourage gargling tea tree oil as a method to help fight the spread of infection.

If the sinuses are blocked, apply and inhale eucalyptus or peppermint oil on the upper chest to unblock sinuses. Did your parents or loved ones ever put Vicks VapoRub on your chest when you were sick? Well, a major ingredient in Vicks is eucalyptus oil. The oil is extremely effective in treating illness and infections and is non-irritating toward the skin. However, if you’re going to apply it, make sure you apply some barrier lotion to soften its powerful effects, like  coconut oil, olive oil or an unscented lotion lying around. Effects are felt immediately when inhaled and are also very long-lasting when applied topically. Aromatherapy oils are easy to find in local health food stores and can also be ordered online.

Be sure to stay warm this winter and drink lots of water and beverages full of electrolytes and if possible, stay away from heavily sugared drinks and drinks that will weaken your immune system like alcohol and caffeine.

The winter time is here to teach us to slow down, bundle up and stay close to people we love. It’s okay to stay in over the weekends and throw those thick socks on and sip a cup of tea. Maybe that’s what the weather is telling us to do: To hibernate and take care of ourselves.

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