Winter time equals potential flu time. The annual influenza wave usually begins in January and lasts three to four months. How can you prevent the spread of influenza or protect yourself against it? Is flu vaccination actually the only valid option or are there other alternatives?
We took the liberty of compiling a list of nine holistic measures that may help you prevent flu without subjecting yourself to side-effects.
Ideally, people need to learn how to conduct their busy lifestyles in a manner that would allow enjoying a healthy nutrient-rich diet, getting plenty of exercise in fresh air, adequate sleep schedules, sunlight for supplying vitamin D and thus, they would have an easier time keeping infections at bay. But what if the diet is not quite as optimal and all other aspects of a healthy lifestyle cannot always be implemented? Well then, try the following:
These are the basis of any influenza prevention – because they interact directly with the immune system, strengthen and activate it. The flu is an infectious disease caused by viruses of the genes influenza virus A or B. The task of the immune system is to ward off those infectious pathogens. Large parts (70 to 80%) of the immune system are localized in the intestine – on the one hand, in the form of intestinal flora, on the other hand in the form of intestinal mucosa, in which there are training centers for white blood cells (defense cells). If the intestinal flora is disturbed and the intestinal mucosa is damaged, the performance of the immune system also suffers.
Probiotics are living microorganisms (e.g. lacto- and bifido-bacteria), which are best taken in capsule form (gastric juice-resistant capsules). They bring the intestinal flora back to a healthy balance. A healthy intestinal flora in turn provides the necessary protection and also the regeneration of the intestinal mucosa. A balanced intestinal flora also has the ability to directly kill harmful microorganisms in the intestine so that they do not enter the blood circulation; Some lactic acid bacteria even have an antiviral effect.
For the prevention of influenza, it is first and foremost important to place the intestinal flora and the intestinal mucosa in an 1A state, thus significantly increasing the capacities of the immune system. This is achieved by taking high-quality probiotics (e.g. combiflora).
Fermented foods such as pickled cabbage or miso also contain high-quality probiotic bacterial strains. What is crucial here is that you eat the pickled cabbage raw, because probiotics are destroyed by heat.
A clinical study commissioned by Chr. Hansen and conducted in collaboration with a hospital and the University of Milan shows that certain bifido and lactobacteria can improve the resistance of the body to general infections such as influenza. Probiotics stimulate the goblet cells in the intestine, so that more protective mucus is formed and strengthen the connections between the cells of the intestinal wall, which prevents unwanted particles, including viruses, from entering the blood circulation.
At the same time, the production of immunoglobulin A is stimulated in the defense cells of the intestinal mucosa. This antibody combats pathogens – especially viruses.
2. Vitamin D
A study by Norwegian scientists on influenza epidemics has shown that there is a relevant link between low vitamin D levels and flu fluids. According to this study, a sharp increase in influenza infections is observed whenever the exposure to sunlight (and thus the formation of vitamin D) is reduced. In the first randomized and controlled study, they investigated bone-protection effect of vitamin D in women after menopause. It turned out that those women who took 800 IU vitamin D daily were three times better protected from influenza than the women from the placebo group.
Of the women who took higher doses of vitamin D for a whole year (2000 IU per day), only a single one fell sick during this period. Vitamin D plays an essential role in the immune system. A deficiency increases the susceptibility to infections.
3. Colloidal silver
Colloidal silver (Argentum colloidale) is by no means a new fashionable trend, but has been used medically from antiquity to the first half of the 20th century for combat against infection. Then the antibiotics were developed, which are much cheaper regarding production and have pushed away the colloidal silver from the market and also from the consciousness of many doctors.
Some scientific investigations have already been carried out, which prove that colloidal silver is already rendering a series of bacteria and fungi harmless while being used in a very small concentration. In vitro, colloidal silver also acts against viruses, as the nanosilver particles bind to their surface and thereby prevent the binding of viruses to host cells. The internal application of colloidal silver should be economical, so it is advisable to consult with an experienced curative surgeon regarding the dosage.
In order to prevent a flu in the winter, you could, for example, take 1 to 2 times a TL colloidal silver (e.g. 5 to 25 ppm) daily.
4. Antiviral effective herbal teas
There are a lot of medicinal plants which have an antiviral effect and are suitable for preventing the flu. One of the most famous herbal viral killers is the Red Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), which has been shown to increase resistance to viruses. In 2007, scientists from the University of Connecticut (USA) analyzed 14 studies on the topic and concluded that the risk of flu infection by echinacea could be reduced by 60 percent.
The following anti-viral active tea mixture can be used therapeutically or prophylactically:
Ingredients: 40 g sunflower root, 20 g of rosehip peels, 10 g of thyme leaves, 10 g of ginseng root, 10 g of Zistrose herb, 10 g elderberry blossoms. Pour a teaspoon of the tea mixture per cup of boiling water. Let the tea pull for 10-15 minutes, then filter. Drink three cups of this tea daily.
The mineral earth bentonite also helps prevent flu, as it is highly detoxifying because it binds toxins to itself. This way, it cleans the intestine and protects the entire body from all kinds of toxins, since these no longer get a chance to enter the blood circulation. As a result, bentonite relieves the immune system enormously. Additionally, bentonite can also bind viruses and bacteria and bring them out with the stool. This mineral can be used in the form of a cure, but in small quantities it can also be utilized for daily detoxification in order to prevent a flu.
When purchasing, make sure that the bentonite has food and medicinal quality, meaning it’s also suitable for internal use. You’ll find it available in the form of powder, liquid or capsules. Dissolve half a teaspoon of bentonite in a glass of water (about 200-300 ml) and drink it on an empty stomach, twice a day, or one and a half hours before meals or two hours after a light meal – e.g. before breakfast and before going to bed.
Free radicals are highly reactive oxygen compounds. They are formed in the body and are sometimes caused by pollutants in the air and by chemicals. If they occur excessively, oxidative stress happens, causing cell damage and a number of diseases. The body's natural defense system provides protection against the harmful effects of free radicals.
The most important allies in the fight against free radicals are antioxidants, which act as free-radical scavengers. The most important natural antioxidants are the vitamins A, C and E, but also selenium as well as secondary element groups such as polyphenols and flavonoids.
Vegetables and fruits, herbs, wild plants, sprouts and seeds are particularly rich in antioxidants, so during their peak season, be sure to include garlic, cabbage, broccoli, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, linseed, sprouts, and wheat germ oil (the vitamin E richest oil) in your diet plan. Season with fresh or dried herbs such as chervil, parsley, rosemary, basil and mint.
Don’t forget that antioxidants can be absorbed not only in the form of food, but also through beverages. Therefore, especially during the cold season, drink a lot of herbal tea or green tea. Green tea is particularly important in the prevention of influenza, since it has antiviral and antimicrobial properties in addition to highly effective antioxidants. If green tea does not appeal to you, then give sweet wood and ginger a chance, because they serve as excellent antioxidant suppliers, sweetwood in particular as it acts as an antiviral as well as an inflammation-inhibiting element.
Of course, antioxidants can also be taken in the form of food supplements such as astaxanthin, OPC, aronia products, etc.
Or “Curcuma longa” is a plant species within the family of ginger plants. In India, the use of curcuma as a spice and remedy has been documented for 4000 years. In traditional Indian Ayurveda healing, curcuma is used against stomach cramping and bloating, but also against poisoning and infections. The "magic root" also promotes blood circulation, cleans the blood and – which is particularly helpful for flu prevention – eliminates viruses and bacteria. It also helps the body to form specific T cells (T-lymphocytes) that are essential for disease control.
Scientists at Oregon State University have found in their study that the protein cathelicidin in the human organism increases with the intake of curcuma and defends itself when the immune system goes against bacteria. Because of this remarkable ability, it not only prevents infections, but also chronic diseases.
If you are exposed to stress, feel weak and a flu wave is present, an extra portion of curcuma can stabilize your immune system. Note, however, that curcuma and its main active ingredient curcumin, which is also responsible for the intense orange-yellow color, is poorly water-soluble. But fear not, you can ingest it alongside some kind of oil (e.g. linseed oil).
8. Natural remedies
Let’s talk about the medicinal plant Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), which is staple of Asian folk medicine. It was first analyzed scientifically in 1978 and is mainly used in the Asian region as tea, salad or spice. Jiaogulan activates the production of a certain enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD), which is naturally produced by the body. This helps track free radicals and excrete them from the body.
Jiaogulan also strengthens the immune system by stimulating lymphocyte formation. Lymphocytes are white blood corpuscles and thus the defense of the body. Dr. Liu, a professor at the Guiyang Medical Center in China, gave Jiaogulan to 610 healthy people aged 50 to 90 years for a month. Among subjects aged 70-90, Jiaogulan showed a 21.4% decrease in oxidative stress and a 282.8% increase in SOD production. Among participants between 50 and 69 years, the free radicals decreased by 15.6 percent and the SOD increase was 116 percent.
You can make tea from the Jiaogulan leaves, which taste a bit similar to liquorice. Place a teaspoon of Jiaogulan herb into a cup of boiling water and let the tea stay for ten minutes. If you want to prevent a flu, you can drink 1 to 3 cups of tea per day, for 5 to 6 weeks. Jiaogulan capsules are a sensible alternative if you do not swoon over the flavour.
Secondly, let’s mention Umckaloabo, a root extract partaining to a geranium species (Pelargonium sidoides) native to South Africa. This root has an immunomodulatory effect. This means that the immune system is strengthened and diseases, such as flu, can be averted or weakened. Clinical studies have shown that the plant extract works in acute and chronic upper respiratory tract infections and neck-nose-ear infections.
The antiviral effect of Umckaloabo can be attributed to the stimulation of the body's interferon formation, which occurs in the case of an infection. Interferon is a group of proteins that can limit the spread of viral infections. On the other hand, it prevents the multiplication of the viruses that have already migrated into the tissue, and the viruses’ adherence to the cells of the mucous membranes.
Umckaloabo is commercially available in the form of drops, tablets and – for children – alcohol-free juice. Read the manufacturer's instructions for dosing.
We must mention another miraculous root with healing properties – ginseng root (Panax ginseng) has been medically used in Asian medicine for thousands of years. A team of scientists led by Professor Sang-Moo Kang from George State University has demonstrated that the medicinal plant can also be used to treat and prevent influenza. The researchers tested how red ginseng extract works when infected with the influenza A virus and found that the defense function and antibody formation is stimulated. Moreover, it was found that ginseng slowed the proliferation of viruses in the cells.
9. Oregano oil
This typical Mediterranean plant has been used for a very long time as a spice and a medical recourse. The essential oils of oregano have a very high content of phenols and act effectively against bacteria, which is why it is also defined as a natural antibiotic. In a study, scientists found that oregano oil has a more significant effect on infections with MRSA staphylococci than all current antibiotics. The MRSA staphylococci are multi-resistant bacteria which have already developed resistance to the available antibiotics. But not against the polyphenols of the oregano.
Oregano oil is also effective against viruses. A study has shown that the essential oregano oil can destroy various types of viruses by attacking their outer coating. For internal use, it is important to ensure that the oregano oil is not diluted but mixed with a vegetable oil (e.g. virgin olive oil). One drop per application is sufficient. Oregano oil is also available in the capsule form but please adhere to the dosage given on the package leaflet.
With all these tips available, you will certainly not have a hard time fighting the flu and successfully preventing it. Ideally, try to combine three to four of the proposed measures to ensure the desired preventive effect. Good luck and stay healthy!