Help for the flu season, Part 5

Now, last week, I mentioned tips on how to stay healthy. IF we do get sick, here are some of the natural remedies we use to get better.

For general sickness (a combination of the illnesses for which specific remedies are listed below):

  • Take Echinacea and Astragalus pills (2-3 each, each meal). Both of these are anti-viral herbs.
  • Drink grapefruit seed extract (10 to 15 drops for adults – much less for kids) in a cup of orange juice. (This stuff is incredibly bitter by itself). I think you are supposed to take it with food, too, otherwise I hear it’s hard on tummies. 
  • Increase consumption of garlic. I usually make a strong soup with fresh garlic in it. We do veggie-chicken noodle and REALLY add a lot of garlic to it.
  • Depending on if the bug is the flu or a cold, we take Boiron’s Oscillococcinum or ColdCalm.

For sore throat:

  • Lick salt or gargle with salt water. 
  • Suck on activated charcoal tablets. (Which, by the way, are REALLY good to take if you get the stomach flu or food poisoning, especially. Just keep a bucket handy because it really makes a mess if it comes back up again.)
  • Drink lemon juice.
  • Do a throat heating compress (at night). Wrap a thin piece of cotton (thin like a handkerchief, only 1 piece of cloth thick) that has been wet in cold water (and rung out well) around the neck. Cover this with a 100% wool sock or another piece of wool (a scarf would probably be too thick) and pin with a safety pin. It should start heating up in moments. I sleep like this and when I wake up my sore throat is frequently better.

For a cold:

  • If you’re congested, inhale steam. I bought a steam inhaler at Rite Aid. I just pour water in it and inhale the steam. I guess you could add some Eucalyptus oil to it if desired. You can also use a hot pot of water that you plug into the wall, but be careful not to burn your face/ nose by inhaling the steam too closely. This really helps to decongest your sinuses.
  • Sinusalia from Boiron is a small naturopathic pill thing that you have to dissolve under your tongue. It helped last time I was sick.

And… we’ll pick up here next week. Or maybe the next. We are getting ready to leave to go on vacation next week!

This is what Works for Me. For more Works for Me tips, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Published in: on December 9, 2008 at 9:08 pm  Comments (1)  
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Help for the flu season, part 3

OK, here are some things that work for us to keep us healthier during flu season. I’m not saying that we don’t get sick at all, BUT these things help.

  1. Limit sugar intake – see my previous flu season post. (And you wonder why people get sick with all the sweets that are given out at Christmastime.)
  2. Get plenty of sleep before midnight. Melatonin, a chemical that your body naturally produces, is produced during the dark hours of night. Melatonin helps your immunity levels. Usually if I get sick, I can trace it back to not getting enough sleep.
  3. Wash your hands well! And don’t touch contaminated surfaces. (Such as public restroom doorknobs or even light switches – use a paper towel or something.) In addition, I carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse. This helps if I shake hands with somebody who has sneezed at church or something gross like that. It’s also great to use when we eat out. My favorite kind of hand sanitizer is from Bath and Body Works. It is wonderful because it doesn’t dry out your hands, and it can smell good (depending on the scent that you use.) I also keep a pump bottle of Hand Sanitizer in my office. When coworkers are sick, I use that several times a day.
  4. Partake in immunity helps. I usually carry a container of Airborne in my purse and if I feel the slightest bit like I am coming down with something, I take some. Or if my coworkers are sick, I take a a couple of cups of that throughout the day as prevention. I also carry Boiron’s Coldcalm and take that if I feel like I’m coming down with a cold. I’ve found that if I wait until I’ve come down with a bug before taking Airborne, it’s not effective. I know there was debatability about whether it cures a cold, but I think Airborne’s greatest strength is if it’s taken at the onset of any symptoms.
  5. My husband usually gets a flu shot. He works at the hospital and is around sick people all the time. The thing about the flu shot is that flu viruses morph into various types and shapes and the folk who make the flu vaccines just guess which strains of the virus will come around this season. And sometimes the vaccine doesn’t contain the same strains and the virus makes people sick anyway. In my opinion, it’s a hit-and-miss thing. I haven’t gotten the flu vaccine before. I haven’t decided if I will, either.
  6. If we feel like we’re on the edge of getting sick, we try hot-and-cold showers. I do my showers for 3 minutes hot, 30 seconds cold, for 3-5 times and then end on cold. Then I go to bed for a bit.

Now, I have to say, I don’t have kids so I don’t know, you’ll have to modify these to fit your own family and your own needs. We’re just a young couple. So, likely scenario, we’ll deal with kid modifications later…

Finally, if all else fails and one of us gets sick, well, you’ll have to come back and see what we do! I’ll give you a hint: we take herbs, we occasionally use charcoal, we drink certain types of tea, and we do hydrotherapy. 

This is what works for me this week! Check out Rocks in My Dryer for more great tips.

Published in: on November 25, 2008 at 8:42 pm  Comments (5)  
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Help for the upcoming flu season – part 2

Your friends, the white blood cells

White blood cells… they’re our friends. They kill germs. They clear our bloodstream from clutter. They provide that wonderful thing called immunity (that we say fights off disease). They make helpful chemicals. 

There are a couple types of white blood cells (also known as phagocytes). Neutrophils are the most numerous, and are the mobile “soldiers” in our bloodstream. They attack bacteria, viruses, and fungi (and they’re our first line of defense). They kill up to 20 bacteria and these poor guys die in the fight. Then we have the macrophages – the “big eaters”. They line important tissues in our lungs, liver, spleen and lymph nodes. These guys live for months. 

White blood cells work by coming to the area of infection (the germ and inflamed tissue release substances that attract them to the region), they stick to the surface of the germ, surround the germ, engulf it, and eat it. Then they destroy the germ. That’s the story in lay-woman’s terms. I’m not a medical professional. I’m a writer. But that’s the way it works, in plain English. 

Where does a fever come from?

A fever is not necessarily a bad thing. The infected tissue signals the brain that there’s a fight going on, and the brain raises the temperature to stimulate white blood cells. Of course, fevers are not pleasant. They’re not supposed to be! A fever is your cue that your body is trying to get help from its white blood cells. (Note: Some fevers are dangerous, especially very high fevers for childen. We’ll talk about dealing with fever in another post.)

Helping or hurting your white blood cells

  • Moderate exercise helps your white blood cells get movin’. Two-thirds of your mobile white blood cells cling to the blood vessels. Exercise gets them to actively circulate. 
  • High-intensity exercise, on the other hand, reduces the gobbling-up action (a big long word called phagocytosis) and reduces their killing ability. 
  • Alcohol consumption makes white blood cells lazy. So if you want to get them to work for you, avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Smoking at first stimulates the neutrophils, but then it reduces their ability to capture and kill germs. 
  • Sugar (sucrose – refined sugar) suppresses the immune system. 
  • Echinacea is an herb that is known to promote white blood cell’s action against germs.
  • Moderate amounts of vitamin C and E supplements improves the white blood cells’ killing action. 
Sugar, your immune system’s enemy
I don’t think people realize how much their immune systems are compromised by eating sugar, especially during flu season. Here’s a chart comparing the teaspoons of sugar and the number of bacteria that’s killed by white blood cells. 
Teaspoons of Sugar Number of bacteria killed by white blood cell
0 14.0
6 10.0
12 5.5
18 2.0
24 1.0

That said, let’s look at the sugar content of some of favorite American treats. Here’s a neat trick that I learned in nutrition class: 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon sugar. So let’s read some labels! 

  • A Starbuck’s caramel frappuccino, grande sized, with no whipped cream, contains 45 grams of sugar. That is 11 1/4 teaspoons sugar! Our white blood cells would be chugging along at a little over 5.5 bacteria…
  • Nabisco’s Oreo cookies – one serving, 29 grams – contains 13 grams of sugar. That’s a little under 4 teaspoons of sugar. 
  • Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch – 1 cup – contains 20 grams of sugar. That’s 5 teaspoons of sugar per serving!
  • Kellogg’s Fruit Loops – 1 cup – 14.5 grams of sugar. That’s about 3 1/2 teaspoons of sugar per serving.
Let’s think about this… do we want to serve our families sugar-full foods which will hurt their immune systems? 
I, for one, try to cut down on serving foods with lots of sugar when bugs are going around. (This does not mean that we do not get sick. But I hope it helps to aid in a faster recovery, and fewer bouts with the flu!) I try to serve cereals with low sugar content, or make my own cereal at home. Lately, I’ve been serving hot cereal made out of whole grains cooked in a crockpot, and flavored mainly with dates blended with milk, stirred into the grains at the end of their cooking. I also add all-natural dried fruit.
Let’s be careful about how much sugar we serve our families!
Published in: on September 27, 2008 at 10:15 pm  Comments (4)  
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