Nature also comes to our aid against influenza and upper respiratory tract viruses. Recent research has analyzed and compared data from previous studies in order to understand which natural remedies can be more useful than others in strengthening our defenses. The study was published in the Journal of Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (Mousa et al, J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med, 2017).
Flu, how to prevent it and combat it with natural remedies
As regards herbal medicine, research identifies some natural remedies that are particularly effective in combating viruses of the upper respiratory tract. Licorice, thanks to its active ingredient glycyrrhizin, is anti-inflammatory, regulates the action of the immune system and is able to stimulate the production of substances that in turn protect the lungs.
Then, the natural remedy par excellence against the flu is echinacea, also consumed in the form of herbal tea, which can easily be purchased in pharmacies, herbalist's shops and online. Echinacea helps as a prevention but also as a treatment, if taken at the first symptoms, reducing the duration of the disease and the risk of complications. Worthy of note is carnosic acid, which is the active ingredient of aromatic plants such as rosemary and sage and which helps to inhibit the proliferation of the human respiratory syncytial virus. Finally, guava tea should also be mentioned, which has been shown in the laboratory to inhibit the influenza A virus.
Nutrition that fights the flu
Nutrition also helps when it comes to strengthening the body and its natural defenses against respiratory viruses. A diet aimed at strengthening defenses should be rich in fruits and vegetables, while at the same time it should include in limited quantities foods such as meat, sugary drinks, refined grains and dairy products. Among the foods to take into consideration, elderberries stand out, which can be taken as juice, since they have an antiviral action and help reduce flu symptoms. Not only that, berries and pomegranates, thanks to their richness in polyphenols, also contribute to inhibiting the infection of the influenza virus. For example, cranberry juice has been shown to improve the functionality of the immune system with a consequent reduction in flu symptoms. Some nutrients have also shown a particular antiviral action. For example, zinc, contained in foods such as shellfish, wheat germ and yeast, or taken as a supplement under medical advice, has been shown to reduce the duration and degree of severity of colds. Vitamin C, taken as a supplement or through foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, kiwis and green leafy vegetables, if introduced into the body regularly has not been shown to reduce the number of colds during the year but certainly the duration and severity of the cold. Probiotics are also useful for increasing defenses against the influenza virus and reducing cold and flu episodes throughout the year. Selenium, contained mainly in Brazil nuts, increases defenses against flu, in particular influenza A virus.
Flu, small tips and conclusions
As we have seen, nutrition and herbal medicine can help when it comes to strengthening defenses and reducing both the probability of falling ill with colds and flu and the symptoms associated with these diseases. However, diet and natural remedies are just two of our allies to strengthen defenses and combat upper respiratory tract viruses. It is also important to maintain hand hygiene and avoid crowding, or if this is necessary protect yourself adequately.
Then a clarification must be made, if the doctor has prescribed a therapy it is important to follow it and not abandon it for a natural remedy.