So you have the flu…. You feel horrible and miserable; you’re full of snot and aching and tearful… what is this germ?
Would it surprise you to hear that it is NOT the germ that’s making you sick? It’s actually your body’s biological response to the germ – your immune system is making you sick…
Germs attack us everyday, through our skin, nose mouth and other orifices, and our macrophages, the little pac-man molecules of white blood cells, see them, recognise them and chomp them up without us ever knowing. But sometimes a big germ or a cluster of germs invade and our body requires more than just a macrophage response; it has to call on the heavy artillery, and so begins and immune cascade of fever (to increase the body temp to kill the invader), mucous (to protect sensitive membranes and trap the germs), inflammation (lots of pac-man macrophages to a specific area, like the throat, to attack with a vengeance and fatigue (all the previous mechanisms require a lot of energy, so there’s not much left to keep you doing your day-to-day activities).
Taking drugs to dry mucous or decrease fever and inflammation are, as you can now see, totally working against what your body is working so hard to achieve. That’s why, once you’re ‘feeling better’ you are left to deal with residual post-nasal drip, running tummy, headaches or other hangover symptoms.
What you really need to do is recognise and honour the process! Your body knows what to do and, given the correct tools, will do it well and swiftly. What are those tools?
- Rest! Let all your energy be diverted to the healing process
- Eat small meals – don’t let your digestive system rob resources from your immune system
- Keep well hydrated, more so than usual. A fever can easily dehydrate you, and fluids keep mucous thin
- Use vitamin c, olive leaf, grape seed, Echinacea, goldenseal – herbs are multi-faceted and support immune function while still being anti-microbial (able to isolate and kill an invader
- TAKE a PROBIOTIC – the bulk of your immunity is generated by the microflora in your intestines
- Be Patient! Once the process has begun it takes about 7 days to resolve, with or without intervention. That’s how the process works. Understand it and go with it
When to see a doctor? If the mucous in you nose and throat is green, this is a sign of secondary infection. If ‘natural antibiotics’ have not resolved the issue in 7 days, or if the fever does not break, or if you actually cannot breathe or are having heart palpitations, seek medical assistance
Remember that most of these germs are viruses and do not need (or respond to) antibiotic intervention. (when you take an antibiotic you get better because you would have got better anyway, remember? 7 days…). Antibiotics interfere with the gut’s microflora for up to 1 year, so don’t do it unless it’s absolutely essential!!