Flu bugs always find us …
… no matter how far they have to travel. Notorious ones tend to originate from somewhere exotic like Beijing. Yet, for all we know, people on the other side of the world could be dropping like flies to a strain from Wivelsfield…
Black Elderberry is one of the best protective agents against influenza and has been used for centuries for its health giving properties. Dr Madeleine Mumcuoglu from Jerusalem has studied its effects on several different viruses. Unlike bacteria, a virus cannot replicate on its own and invades a healthy cell to produce new copies of itself. Black Elderberry contains active components which prevents an invasion of the virus and stops it from multiplying.
If you are lucky enough to have an Elder tree in your garden, play hunter gatherer and pick the tiny black-purple elderberries. Boil and strain them to make a soothing cordial for colds and coughs this autumn. If, on the other hand, you are somewhat pressed for time, you can get Black Elderberry in a liquid tincture. As soon as you feel the first symptoms of a cold virus coming on, take 20-30 drops of the tincture in a glass of water twice or three times a day for a few days until symptoms subside. However, if you already have a cold, it’s too late for this remedy.
The stronger your immune defences, the less likely you are to become victim to the flu or cold virus. Imagine your body is Fort Knox and that precautionary measures are required to keep intruders out:
• Make sure your entry points are impenetrable. Vitamin A helps by maintaining the integrity of the mucus membranes inside your nose, mouth and GI tract. Vitamin A is also a potent antioxidant and protects your immune cells. Beta carotene, an active precursor of vitamin A, is found in all colourful fruit and vegetables.
• Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly being linked to many diverse diseases, including poor immune responses. Most people in the UK do not have adequate levels of vitamin D. Food sources are oily fish, eggs and fortified foods. In addition expose your skin to sunlight as the body can produce a form of vitamin D itself.
• Vitamin C is your master immune-booster – call him 007 you like. As soon as you feel a cold coming on, saturate your body cells with vitamin C to shorten its duration and lessen symptoms. Other useful nutrients include the B vitamins, vitamin E, selenium and zinc. In order to accommodate all of them, take a high strength multivitamin and mineral daily if prone to coughs and colds.
• Beware of treacherous double-agents called anti-nutrients. These might make you feel better short-term, but deplete your nutrient and organ reserves in the long-run. The worst offenders are sugar, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. After the battle is won, you can always indulge yourself again (just don’t tell your nutritionist!).
• Eat lightly during an infection – the body is fighting hard to get rid of the waste products of war. Avoid excess salt, fatty and mucus-forming foods (meat, dairy, wheat) and drink plenty of water to detox.
As far as viral infections go, the best form of defence is prevention – check out your local grocer and health store for natural infection fighters!
© 2011 Martina Watts MSc Nut Med, First Published Brighton Argus 2005