Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a viral infection that targets your respiratory system including your nose, throat and lungs. There are two types of influenza viruses, influenza A and influenza B, that are mainly responsible for the seasonal flu epidemics each year.
The virus is spread from person to person through sputum droplets spray when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
Body aches and pains
Runny or congested nose
Anyone can get influenza and develop mild to severe symptoms. Individuals with a compromised immune system, pregnant women, the elderly and young children are most at risk for developing flu-related complications.
A healthy immune system plays an important role in flu prevention and a fast recovery should you contract the virus.
1. Get enough sleep: 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night is important for maintaining healthy levels of cortisol. Chronic low-levels of cortisol supresses the immune system and can contribute to developing recurrent colds and flu with poor recovery time.
2. Vitamin SUN: Vitamin D is expressed on our immune cells and play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Some studies suggest that most of our population is in fact deficient in Vitamin D. The sun is the best source of Vitamin D, so catch up on some winter sun during the flu season. If a blood test reveals that you are deficient in Vitamin D, then you need to talk to your health care practitioner who can prescribe a suitable supplement.
3. Eat 5-7 servings of vegetables each day: A healthy diet is key to a healthy immune system. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day promotes healthy biological pathways which helps protect us from disease.
4. Maintain a healthy gut: 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. Gut permeability contributes to low level inflammation and supresses our immune system. Avoid foods that can cause inflammation such as sugar, processed foods, additives and preservatives. Include foods rich in pre and probiotics like kefir or kombucha with gut healing bacteria.
5. Stress management: Chronically elevated levels of cortisol contributes to chronic
inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with chronic disease which can put you at risk for developing flu and serious flu related complications.
Natural anti-viral supplements:
1. Vitamin C: Studies suggest that therapeutic doses of Vitamin C assists in alleviating and reducing symptoms of colds and flu.
2. Echinacea root: This herb has immune enhancing and immune modulating activities which can assist in the treatment of acute infections such as cold and flu. It also has anti-inflammatory effects which can alleviate upper and lower respiratory symptoms associated with bronchial inflammation.
3. Sambucus Nigra (Elder Berry): The key indications for this herb is in the treatment of influenza, the common cold and other acute viral infections.
4. Vitamin ACE, Zinc and selenium: Vitamin A, C, E as well as Zinc and selenium plays an important role in a healthy functioning immune system. Talk to your pharmacist or health care provider about an immune boosting multi-vitamin to support your immune system during flu season.
5. Garlic (Allium Sativum): Research studies conducted on aged garlic for the treatment of acute colds and flu found that garlic had positive immune boosting effects and reduced the severity of cold and flu symptoms.
Homeopathy is another safe and effective modality for the treatment of influenza and will be the topic of my next article. Homeopathic remedies for the safe and effective treatment of influenza.
For more information please contact The Naturopathic Health Care Center on 012 460 9216 or
This article in no way serves to diagnose or to treat anyone suffering from influenza. If you suspect you are suffering from influenza, then you should consult with your primary health care physician. Before using a new herb or supplementation,
you should consult with a qualified health care practitioner. The opinions and suggestions in this article are those of Dr. Chantell Groenewald based on her years and experience as a qualified Homeopath and should in no way serve to replace a
physical consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.