Thursday, December 15, 2011

Flu, prevention and traditional cures

THERE is almost no one who has not had flu at sometime in their life. Yes, flu is one of the most common contagious diseases. Although often regarded as a mild illness it is unpleasant. Flu has many names. Indonesians call it masuk angin, while even Americans lack a common definition of flu and colds. “We call a lot of things ‘flu’ out there”, said one doctor.

However one thing is certain. Whatever the name the symptoms are similar: high temperature, sore and painful muscles (usually the back and legs), a feeling of extreme exhaustion and an annoying headache. The fever, sometimes accompanied by chills usually occurs suddenly.

Flu is a viral respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. Flu spreads to another person in two ways: breathing in particles containing the viruses, such as the airborne droplets produced by coughing and sneezing, or by direct contact with aflu infected person. Although flu is used generically it is a different illness from the common cold.

Some other diseases have similar symptoms to flu, such as strep throat, measles and chicken pox. Flu cannot be cured by taking antibiotics. Antiviral medication can be taken but a cure is not guaranteed and the medicine is costly.

Before the development of modern medicines our ancestors had effective methods to fight flu using traditional medicine. In fact there are many natural ingredients that can fight various diseases. Many people are not aware that natural herbal cures can be just as effective and cost very little as the ingredients are readily available.

The following are considered effective in preventing flu: 1) Yoghurt, rich in nutrients including vitamin B, calcium and protein; 2) Garlic, its allicin content is effective against flu; 3) Dates, rich in potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants make the pH level balanced making it difficult for pathogens to attack our immune system; 4) Mushrooms, also rich with an antioxidant called ergothioneine that can prevent the abnormal growth of cells; 5) Zinc that contains metalloenzime plays a major role in enhancing immunity; 6) Spirulina, is a high source of protein. Spirulina is full of B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron and gamma linoleic acid, all of which also boost immunity; and 7) Ginger, a traditional Chinese cure for flu symptoms.

According to Dr Michael Grossman, M.D. and Jodi Jones in The Vitality Connection: Ten Practical Ways to Optimize Your Health and Reverse the Aging Process, actually one can prevent flu and colds by strengthening one’s immunity in a natural way without taking medicines.

Jones writes that there is no magical pill to prevent a disease, because the best way is a healthy lifestyle, while Grossman said the best defense against this seasonal virus is by strengthening one’s immune system.

The following are 25 ways which according to Dr Michael Grossman, M.D. and Jodi Jones will enhance our natural defense system against flu and colds:
  1. Eat one orange per day as it contains vitamin C which will help fight colds.
  2. Have sufficient sleep so that your body recharges to fight disease.
  3. Reduce stress especially emotional stress as it can weaken your immunity system.
  4. Eat garlic every day because it can strengthen your immune system and fight bacteria.
  5. Drink a lot of water.
  6. Use ginger in your cooking and drinks as apart from giving warmth to your body it also provides additional immunity.
  7. Consume lots of food that contains vitamin E, such as nuts, beans and whole grains.
  8. Consume food high in zinc like gour seeds and wheat.
  9. Echinacea herbal drink also prevents colds and flu and minimizes the effects.
  10. Wash your hands frequently with soap to wash off any germs and bacteria.
  11. Keep your throat in a moist condition. A study in England indicated that sucking zinc lozenges reduces colds.
  12. Light sports, like walking for 30 minutes, can help improve your immune system.
  13. Avoid places that are crowded with people suffering from colds and flu especially in humid and cold weather, because the diseases are contagious.
  14. Consume chicken soup with garlic and shallots as this can decongest mucus and get rid of the germs/bacteria.
  15. Keep your body warm as cold and wet weather can make you sick. If you feel cold take a hot bath and wear warm clothes.
  16. Ensure you have sufficient humidity in your house by using a humidifier.
  17. Drink carrot and other vegetables juice to boost your immunity.
  18. Eat a minimum of one cup of yogurt every day to keep ‘good bacteria’ in your gut.
  19. Add chili to your food as it helps clear out the mucous membrane in the sinuses.
  20. Drink pineapple juice as it contains the enzyme bromelaine, which is good for your health.
  21. Consume a flu preventing concoction: brew one spoonful of horseradish or ginger slices in a cup of hot water, add one spoon of honey and two cloves.
  22. Eat onion often because it has quercetin which fights bacteria.
  23. If you have nasal congestion put a few drops of eucalyptus oil into a pot of boiling water, remove from the stove, cover your head with a towel and breathe in the vapor.
  24. Stop smoking as it distresses your respiratory system.
  25. Maintain a positive attitude. Research indicates that being in high spirits is the key to good health and happiness.

(Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, December 16, 2011

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