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Flu Busters

The flu is a very common virus which can strike us down at any time, without any warning, and usually at the most inopportune time. Factors such as stress, fatigue, an unhealthy diet, etc can have an effect on the immune system and make us more susceptible.

What is the Flu?

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There are four different varieties of flu – influenza A, B, C & D. It is types A & B which cause the seasonal outbreak, although the symptoms of type B are generally less severe. Influenza C has very mild symptoms, and Influenza D primarily affects cattle. Type A can affect animals and humans, whereas type B is confined to humans only. Since it is constantly changing and mutating, epidemics and pandemics are always caused by Type A. 

In a normal year (ie non-pandemic), flu affects approximately 9% of the world’s population, namely around 1 billion people, resulting in 300.000 – 500.000 deaths each year.  The elderly, the very young, and those suffering from autoimmune diseases are the most at risk.

Symptoms of flu involve muscle aches and soreness, headache, fever, usually between 100-103 degrees Fahrenheit in adults, and for children this can be even higher, chills, a stuffy or runny nose, cough, and fatigue, often extreme. PIC2 7Occasionally it can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea. 

The flu virus is highly contagious. You catch it from another person already infected with the virus, either from droplets in the air, caused by coughing and sneezing, or from touching something that they have touched and infected, such as a door knob, and transferring the virus to your eyes, mouth or nose. You usually become infected within 24-72 hours after exposure and are contagious from then on, although the symptoms may still not have presented. 

The flu infects the respiratory system, including the throat, nose, bronchial tubes, and sometimes even the lungs, whereas the common cold virus only affects the upper respiratory system. The symptoms are usually at their worst for 3-4 days, although the cough may linger way past this, and the feeling of fatigue for even longer. 

Although as a viral infection, it is possible to catch flu at any time of the year, epidemics are worse during the winter months as it lives longer inside in the winter, and thus is able to infect more people while its airborne, in addition to people invariably spending more time inside during the winter with closer contact to each other.

There is no quick cure for the flu, it’s viral and therefore unresponsive to antibiotics. The symptoms are the body’s reaction to fighting the virus. However you can boost the immune system to make it react quicker and more efficiently to fight off the threat, in addition to finding relief from some of the symptoms, and reducing the duration of the virus. 

Our suggestions have been especially selected to help support your health and minimize symptoms, so you can get back on your feet quickly. Why use artificial products to cover symptoms, when you can eradicate them naturally and healthily. 

PIC3 8Black Seed Oil
Contains thymoquinone, thymohydroquinone, and thymol – powerful phytochemicals to boost the immune system. With antibacterial, antiviral, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s the perfect tool to help fight the symptoms of the flu, plus ensuring that a secondary viral or bacterial infection, such as pneumonia, does not take hold while the immune system is compromised. 

Studies have confirmed that Black Seed Oil can inhibit inflammation of the respiratory airways and sinuses, reducing nasal and chest congestion, and with its analgesic effect, reducing associated pain such as headache, earache and neck pain. Black Seed Oil also contains plenty of nutrients, including vitamins A, B, C, E, in addition to calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, flavonoids, essential oils, essential amino acids, and omega-3, 6 and 9 – all essential to equip the body to fight off infections and viruses. 

Illness can also play havoc with the skin, so let’s not forget that this oil is cited as being the secret to the legendary beauty of Nefertiti and Cleopatra. 

How to use
Orally: Take 1 teaspoon every morning (may be added to honey to improve taste) and soothe a sore throat. Do not mix with hot water to preserve the nutrients.  
Topically: Apply a few drops directly to the skin to reduce redness and inflammation and soothe that red nose and dry cracked lips, or as a chest and throat rub.
Steam inhalation: Add 1 teaspoon to a bowl of steaming water. Steam with a towel over your head for 2 to 5 minutes to clear a stuffy nose and help break up chest and nasal congestion. Take care not to place your face too close to the steaming water as it can scald you.

Note: Not recommended for pregnant women, or after an organ transplant. Breastfeeding mothers can take this oil up to 2 months after giving birth.

PIC4 7Peppermint Oil
Nature’s own cold and flu treatment, possessing antiviral, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. As a natural decongestant, it will provide effective relief in case of flu, sinusitis, cough, nasal and chest congestion. Contains menthol, a compound long recognised in the process of treating flu, since it has a positive effect on mucus receptors in the nasal cavity, helping to lessen mucus, reduce irritation, open the airways and promote easier breathing. 

Peppermint also has a positive effect on coughing, loosening chest congestion and breaking up phlegm. Plus its antibacterial activity can fight infection which is one of the known triggers for sinus congestion. Peppermint’s natural cooling effect will help to cool the body in case of fever. As a muscle relaxant it can help to counteract a stiff neck, and relieve a tension or sinus headache.

How to use
As a rub: On the chest and back to help reduce fever. Under the nose to clear a stuffy nose and reduce a cough. On the forehead to reduce a headache and relieve tension. For better results add to a carrier oil or Aloe Vera.
Steam inhalation: Add 1 drop to a bowl of steaming water. Steam with a towel over your head for 2 to 5 minutes to clear a stuffy nose and help break up chest and nasal congestion. Take care not to place your face too close to the steaming water as it can scald you.
Massage: Add a few drops to a carrier oil, to cool the body, alleviate stiffness and fatigue, and relax the mind.
Humidifier/diffuser: Add a few drops to your humidifier or diffuser and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

PIC5 7Marjoram Oil
Contains eucalyptol, an excellent aroma to relieve congestion and clear airways for easier breathing, and relieve associated symptoms such as a headache or cough. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties to help prevent secondary infections and deter sinus congestion which is often triggered by bacteria. The aroma of Marjoram Oil is known to calm and relax, and aid sleep.

How to use
Steam inhalation: Add 1 drop to a bowl of steaming water. Steam with a towel over your head for 2 to 5 minutes to clear a stuffy nose and help break up chest and nasal congestion. Take care not to place your face too close to the steaming water as it can scald you.
Humidifier/diffuser: Add a few drops to your humidifier or diffuser and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
In the bath: Add a few drops to warm running water to enjoy the aromatherapy effects. The steam will also help to clear a stuffy nose and break up nasal and chest congestion.
Unblock sinuses: Add a drop to a handkerchief and inhale when your nose starts to feel stuffy.
To aid sleep: Add a drop to your bedsheets or pillow to keep the nasal passage clear, and induce calmness and aid sleep. 

Note: Marjoram Oil should not be applied topically without the addition of a carrier oil.

PIC6 7Lemon Oil
Contains limonene, with anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally Lemon Oil is known to be antiseptic, antiviral, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, antibacterial, carminative, depurative, diaphoretic, and febrifuge which make it a great tool to support the body against the flu. With its ability to benefit the lymphatic system it can further aid the body to fight the virus. 

Lemon Oil is also a great non-toxic cleaner to disinfect surfaces and protect others from catching the virus, and yourself from becoming reinfected, without inflaming the respiratory tract further with irritating chemicals. Lemon Oil is also a great oil to diffuse in the sick room or family room to counteract any airborne viruses or bacteria, and can also help to boost the mood.

How to use
As a cleaner: Add a few drops to a spray bottle mixed with water, and a little vinegar if you wish.
Humidifier/diffuser: Add a few drops to your humidifier or diffuser and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

PIC7 7Lemongrass Tea
Lemongrass Tea with its citrusy aroma and hint of sweet lemon taste, is refreshingly healthy and promotes clear thinking, reduces stress and is a mood booster. It contains vitamins A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (Folate), C, plus manganese, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, selenium, flavonoids, essential oils and phenolic compounds, and so is full of nutrients to help promote health. 

Antiviral and antibacterial, this tea is a perfect beverage for those suffering from chest and sinus congestion and inflammation. It is also believed to be effective against staphylococci bacteria, more commonly known as strep throat. Lemongrass works as an expectorant, thereby loosening mucus in the throat and respiratory system and allowing it to be dispelled, whilst also reducing pain. Muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory properties will relax the trachea, protecting against a cough and irritated throat. Lemongrass can also reduce fever which may be beneficial for the flu virus. ‘

Steam from the tea is also a strategic weapon for the sinuses, improving the flow of air within the nasal cavity. Antioxidants allow the white blood cells to travel through the body quicker to fight infection, whilst essential vitamins and nutrients boost the immune system. 

Sleep is essential for recovery from sickness, as it helps boost your immune system. This tea is an exceptional aid to sleep as it promotes the release of the hormone serotonin, and has a sedative effect, eliciting a sense of calm and well being, and inducing a great night’s sleep.
How to Make Lemongrass Tea
Add 1 teaspoon of Lemongrass Tea to a cup of boiling water and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Strain and add sugar or honey to sweeten as required.
Note: Not recommended for pregnant or nursing mothers.

How to feel better

There is no quick fix, but the important thing to do is to rest, eat healthily, drink plenty of fluids and keep the air moist. Remember to wash your hands frequently so that you can protect others and yourself (it is possible to re-infect yourself!). It’s important to let the virus run its course and not try to stop it with medication as this will invariably lengthen the time of sickness. The symptoms are your body’s reaction to destroying the virus and allowing the virus fighting proteins to circulate more efficiently. 

You can try to ease a fever but should never attempt to suppress it as the body heats to “cook” the virus since it can only survive in normal body temperatures. However there are certain things that you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable, ease the symptoms and reduce the duration of the cold naturally:

PIC8 6Rest more: When you’re sick your body needs more sleep to build up its immune system, and since it’s using more energy to fight off the sickness it can save energy from moving you around, etc. So if you’re feeling  constantly tired, don’t worry about it. It’s also your body’s way of protecting itself – as you will be less likely to participate in things that could introduce more germs which your body is ill equipped to deal with at this time.  

A good night’s sleep: At all times it is recommended that you have between 7-9 hours sleep per night but this is particularly vital when fighting the flu. Certain proteins called cytokines, which target infections, are produced and released during sleep. 

Your body also has better fever control whilst you are sleeping, which is another way of the body to fight infections (by raising the body temperature and ‘cooking’ the virus which can only survive in normal body temperatures). However, you may find it harder to have a full night’s comfortable sleep as the flu makes you feel sicker during the night. This is caused by the fact that there is less cortisol in your blood at night, therefore the white cells detect and fight infection during this time, bringing the symptoms to the surface, including congestion and fever. 

Adjust the room temperature, it should be warm but not hot. You need to avoid getting chilled or overheated so that the body does not need to waste energy on maintaining body temperature and can concentrate on fighting the infection. You can further assist the body by sleeping with layers of bedding so that you can add or remove as your temperature fluctuates. 

For a better night’s sleep you can also add an extra pillow to keep your head higher and reduce sinus pressure, but make sure it’s not so high that it hurts your neck, or try adding a few drops of essential oil (such as Marjoram) to the sheets or pillow to keep the airways open. Have a sleep inducing hot drink, such as Lemongrass Tea, about one hour before bed to avoid broken sleep caused by needing to use the bathroom.

Eat healthily: Even though you’re feeling ill and may not have much of an appetite, it’s important to provide your body with the correct nutrients to provide energy and help your body get well. Try to have a low-fat, high fibre diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and protein. You may find it beneficial to try to eat foods high in vitamin C (such as fruit and vegetables) and vitamin D (such as salmon and oily fish, egg yolks and mushrooms). 

Spicy foods can help to open up the sinus passages and break up mucus. Chicken soup is an excellent source of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals, and is great for relieving congestion with its hot steam, and is known to help relieve inflammation.PIC9 6Warm broth can also help to clear the sinus congestion. Oatmeal can help to stimulate the immune system, add some honey to sweeten since honey is also very therapeutic. Like honey, chocolate also desensitizes aggravated nerves in the throat, so pick up some 70%+ cacao content chocolate to get the benefit of the ingredient theobromide, which scientists have discovered blocks the cough reflex. 

Yoghurt is soothing on the throat and contains probiotics which is supported by evidence to help the body recover quicker from sickness. Avoid high sugar foods and simple carb foods, such as pasta and toast, which can inhibit the white blood cells which fight infection, and can also cause inflammation. Fatty foods similarly may also increase inflammation. 

Obviously avoid rough or jagged foods which can aggravate the throat or cough, and stick to foods which can be easily swallowed, or better still, coat and soothe the throat. Supplement your daily diet with a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil for vitamin C and D plus minerals and nutrients.

Keep hydrated: it is vital to stay hydrated when you have the flu. Fever can dehydrate you quickly.  Drinking plenty of fluids will help to thin out the mucus and help to break up congestion, in addition to preventing the lining of the nose and throat from drying out.

Limit caffeine and alcohol which can add to dehydration, and avoid sugary sodas which can weaken the effectiveness of white blood cells and cause inflammation. Orange juice should also be avoided as the acids can irritate a sensitised throat and also make the cough worse. 

Water, and herbal teas, such as Lemongrass Tea are highly recommended. Add honey to sweeten as it can help to soothe a sore throat.

Take a warm bath: Taking a warm bath can help in two ways. Firstly it can increase the body’s core temperature and help boost the immune system to stop the virus from reproducing. Secondly, the steam can help to calm inflammation in the sinuses, loosen mucus and relieve a stuffy nose. 

For optimum effect add a drop of essential oil, such as Peppermint or Marjoram, to the water to make the steam more effective at battling the congestion. A warm bath before bed can also help to relax and induce sleep.

PIC10 5Steam inhalation: Fill a large bowl with hot water, position your face several inches over the bowl and place a towel over your head and bowl. Inhale the steam to calm inflammation in the sinuses, loosen mucus and relieve a stuffy nose. 

Add a drop of essential oil such as Peppermint or Marjoram to optimise the steams effect at reducing congestion. Take care not to place your face too close to the steaming water as it can scald you.

Use a humidifier: Use a humidifier to keep the air moist, loosen congestion and prevent the nose and throat from drying out and becoming inflamed and irritated. Add a few drops of essential oil such as Peppermint or Marjoram for optimum effect.

Soothe a sore throat: Gargle with warm salt water (half teaspoon salt to 100ml warm water) or an apple cider vinegar and salt water mix (half teaspoon salt, one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to 100ml warm water) to soothe a sore throat. Tilt head back, pour solution to back of throat and gargle for 60 seconds before spitting solution out. Take care not to swallow any salt water as this can aggravate the stomach.  

Blow your nose frequently: Constant sniffing causes the mucus to trickle down your throat to your chest and should be avoided as much as possible. To blow your nose correctly you should cover one nostril and blow out gently with the other into a tissue to clear the excess mucus. It is essential that this is done gently as blowing too hard can damage the nasal passages, or push the mucus further into the sinuses or into the ear passages. Dispose of the tissue and wash your hands afterwards. 

Constant blowing of the nose, although necessary, can irritate the skin or chap the skin around the nose. Counteract this with some petroleum jelly, or use a naturally moisturising and anti-inflammatory essential oil, such as Black Seed Oil. 

PIC11 2Wash your hands frequently: Everytime you blow your nose, wash your hands well afterwards to ensure that you are not spreading the virus elsewhere.  If the hands start to become dry or sore from too much washing, treat them to some soothing Black Seed Oil which also has antiviral properties to prevent the spread of the virus. Don’t forget to keep surfaces clean with a natural antiviral spray, such as Orange Oil, which will not irritate the respiratory tract further.

Avoid stress: Stress hormones, such as cortisol, play havoc with your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness such as the flu, and make it harder to get rid of it. Reduce cortisol levels by doing something that relaxes you – listen to music, practise meditation, try some aromatherapy with oils which can promote a sense of calmness, relaxation and well-being, such as Marjoram or Peppermint, which can also help to reduce nasal congestion at the same time.

Gentle exercise and fresh air: If you are not feeling too fatigued and do not have a fever, a little gentle exercise can help to make you feel better. Whatsmore it can also help to open the nasal passage and bring temporary relief of nasal congestion.  Just taking a gentle walk for 10-15 minutes can boost your intake of the “sunshine vitamin” otherwise known as vitamin D, a necessary factor for the immune system.

When to visit a doctor
Usually with the flu there is no need to visit the doctor. Antibiotics cannot help with a viral infection, and misuse can minimise their effect at a time when they are needed. It is best to use natural products as much as possible to treat the symptoms and let the cold run its course. However if your symptoms suddenly become severe, or the flu lasts longer than ten days, you may have developed a secondary bacterial infection or have a different medical condition which may need additional care.

Just remember that old adage that “prevention is better than cure”, so ensure that your immune system is always at its optimum by adding a dietary supplement such as Black Seed Oil into your daily routine.  

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