Influenza can make you feel as though you’ve been hit by a truck. Headaches, chills, fever and a body that hurts all over are tell tale signs that you’ve been struck. But don’t resort to the flu shot to avoid the flu’s wrath. Homeopathy can provide the answer to prevent or fight this debilitating sickness. In fact Europeans have been successfully using homeopathic remedies to fight the flu for over 60 years.
A recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study by researchers at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany showed that when flu sufferers took a certain homeopathic remedy at the first sign of illness, they were 63 percent more likely to recover within 48 hours.
"Exactly how it boosts the immune system is undetermined," says Nicole Moulin, MD, of New York’s Montefiore Einstein Hospital. "But it reduces the length of time you’re sick with the flu by up to 75 percent."
Homeopathic medicine is the best selling flu remedy in France. Oscillococcinum, the number one over-the-counter flu medication, has been used for over 60 years. It’s believed to indirectly stimulate the body’s immune system and other defenses. No side effects have been reported, but it contains sugar, so diabetics should be careful. Otherwise it’s safe for adults and children who have underlying health problems.
A study, published in the March 1989 issue of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, reported that 24.6 percent of those with mild to moderate symptoms had recovered by the second day after taking the homeopathic remedy, compared to 11.9 percent of those taking placebos.
Experts say the average North American gets three to four colds every winter and the bugs are becoming more powerful and difficult to quash every year.
"If your immune system isn’t up to snuff, you could be suffering for two weeks straight," says Earl Mindell, PhD, professor of nutrition at Pacific Western University. However, many people assume that they have the flu when in fact they have a common cold. There are various symptoms to determine whether you’ve got the flu or a nasty cold. For example a flu fever can reach heights of 102 to 104°F (57 to 58°C) degrees and often lasts for up to four days. Although you may feel flushed, a fever is rare when you have a cold. With the flu you can feel fine one minute and have full blown symptoms the next. It is often accompanied with a splitting headache, which is also rare with a cold. Fatigue and weakness can often last for up to three weeks and extreme exhaustion is an early and prominent indicator of the flu. Such symptoms are mild or non-existent with a cold.
During the seven weeks of peak incidence during the 1999 to 2000 flu season, it’s estimated that 77 percent of households in North America were affected by the flu. Typical features of the flu include fever (usually 38°C to 39.5°C in adults, but higher in children) and respiratory symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, as well as headache, muscle aches and often extreme fatigue.
The virus latches onto a cell in your nose or throat. It takes over the cell, tricking it into producing new virus particles. Your body’s immune system detects the virus particles and fights back, producing flu symptoms. The incubation period usually lasts for two days (this can vary from one to five days). A person is contagious one to two days before the onset of symptoms and for four to five days after symptoms begin.
Influenza viruses are divided into three types, designated A, B and C. Types A and B are responsible for the epidemics of respiratory illness that occur almost every winter and are often associated with increased rates for hospitalization and death. Type C does not cause epidemics, often sparking no symptoms or just very mild respiratory ones.
The dreaded flu is not necessarily a winter illness. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the drop in temperature has nothing directly to do with contracting the bug. Rather, it’s because the cold weather forces us to stay indoors with other members of our sniffling family and co-workers. Close proximity ups the ante of virus transmission, either by physical contact or vaporized droplets which are jettisoned forth by coughing and sneezing. There are ways of protecting yourself against the flu virus. Take extra amounts of vitamin C. Insist that your colleagues and family members cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze or cough. Wash your hands frequently and try not to touch your nose. Viruses can be easily transmitted via a handshake or through contact with doorknobs, telephones and the like.
If you’re unfortunate enough to contact the bug you should drink plenty of nonalcoholic, decaffeinated liquids to keep your airways moistened and to help your immune system better fight the good fight. Take the herbal supplement echinacea with homeopathic flu medicine. Your health food store carries a number of different brands. Ask for assistance in choosing the best one for you. Also, a homeopathic practitioner can determine whihc formula is the right one for you. Finally rest, stay warm and let yourself be pampered by loved ones. It might be their turn next week.