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How to be the flu fighter this Winter

By Vera Martins, PhD ,Naturopath

The Flu Fighter – for the first signs of infection

The Flu Fighter is a powerful recipe to naturally fight the common cold and the flu as soon as you get the first signs. Its key ingredients are garlic and ginger, which have powerful anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties, fighting off bacteria and viruses (also promises to keep vampires away!). Garlic has been shown to enhance immune cell function which may reduce severity and duration of colds and flu in clinical trials, and research on ginger demonstrates it is an effective anti-microbial and anti-viral agent.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium to large piece of fresh ginger root, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 500 ml of water
  • 1 teaspoon of raw honey (optional)

Method:

In a saucepan, add the finely chopped garlic and the fresh ginger to 500 ml of water. Bring it to a boil, cover, reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, let it cool down and add the lemon juice and honey (optional). If you do not mind the garlic taste, I recommend drinking with the garlic bits in for a more powerful antibiotic effect. Drink a shot (approximately 30 ml), warm or at room temperature, three times daily. It can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Note that people with gastric disorders (such as nausea, heartburn or bloating) can be sensitive to garlic. Also, if you suffer from a bleeding disorder or take blood-thinning medications, take garlic with caution.

The Yarrow Hot Drink – to sweat a fever away

A fever can be a common symptom of infection, particularly if you get the flu. It is your body’s natural defence mechanism. Studies have shown that an increase in body temperature actually helps to fight infections by making it more difficult for pathogens to get into cells and by helping immune cells travel to sites of infection. Therefore, if a serious infection has been ruled out, it may be a good idea to resist reaching out to your medicine’s cabinet, and instead manage the fever whilst making sure it remains at an acceptable level (below 39°C). A great tip to manage the fever is to take Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), a herb that opens the pores to induce perspiration. In this way, it helps to control and reduce body temperature.

Ingredients:

For 1 serving

  • 1 teaspoon of dried yarrow herb
  • 250-300 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon of dried elderberries (optional– for an extra anti-viral boost)

Method:

Add the dried yarrow (and dried elderberries, if using them) to a mug and cover with boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes, strain, and drink while it is still warm. It should be drunk two to three times daily, ideally while covered in bed.

These drinks will not only give your body a hand in fighting the infection, but will also keep you hydrated, which is key for a speedy recovery. Also remember to top it up with plenty of water to prevent dehydration (aim for 1.5 L daily), rest as much as possible (take time off work if possible) and get a good night’s sleep. It is also important to look after your diet (avoid refined sugar and prioritise an anti-inflammatory diet with loads of warming soups and stews), and consider high doses of vitamin C and zinc supplements. Happy recovery!

References

Arreola, R. et al. Immunomodulation and anti-inflammatory effects of garlic compounds. Journal of Immunology Research (2015). doi:10.1155/2015/401630
Chrubasik, S., Pittler, M. H. & Roufogalis, B. D. Zingiberis rhizoma: A comprehensive review on the ginger effect and efficacy profiles. Phytomedicine (2005). doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2004.07.009
Lin, C. D. et al. Fever Promotes T Lymphocyte Trafficking via a Thermal Sensory Pathway Involving Heat Shock Protein 90 and α4 Integrins. Immunity (2019). doi:10.1016/j.immuni.2018.11.013
Liu, Q. et al. Antibacterial and antifungal activities of spices. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2017). doi:10.3390/ijms18061283
Mills, S. and Bone K. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy, Modern Herbal Medicine (2008). Churchill Livingstone.
Nantz, M. P. et al. Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. Clin. Nutr. (2012). doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2011.11.019
Papatriantafyllou, M. Heating up T cell activation. Nat. Rev. Immunol. (2012). doi:10.1038/nri3146
Plaza, J. J. G., Hulak, N., Zhumadilov, Z. & Akilzhanova, A. Fever as an important resource for infectious diseases research. Intractable and Rare Diseases Research (2016). doi:10.5582/irdr.2016.01009

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