Fighting the Flu Naturally – 15 Top Tips, Herbs, Vitamins and Antiviral Remedies

The United States is getting hit quite hard right now with the flu and flu-like viruses. It seems like a hopeless battle. What can you do to protect yourself? Are natural remedies bunk or beneficial? Here are 15 top natural tips, herbs, vitamins, and antiviral remedies you can take, to help build up your immune system and increase your ability to fight off the flu naturally.
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Natural Home Remedies for Sinusitis

SinusitisWhat is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis afflicts millions of Americans each year. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, sinusitis “simply means your sinuses are inflamed, red and swollen, because of an infection or another problem.”  Sinusitis can be very irritating to deal with and women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with the infection. Sinusitis affects people from the very young to the very old.

Acute sinusitis can last up to 4 weeks and chronic sinusitis can last more than 12 weeks and persist for months or years after the initial symptoms. The illness can be caused by several factors including viruses, bacteria, allergies, airborne chemicals and a weak immune system.

What are the Symptoms of Sinusitis?
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, those diagnosed with sinusitis usually suffer from the following symptoms:

Sinus infection

• Nasal Congestion
• Headaches
• Earaches
• Fever
• Sore throat
• Cough
• Fatigue
• Pain between the eyes
• Post-nasal drip

Why Consider Not Using Antibiotics or Decongestants?
Many people who suffer from acute or chronic sinusitis typically take antibiotics or decongestants to treat and alleviate the symptoms of the illness. Sinus InfectionSince people usually recuperate from acute sinusitis with time, taking antibiotics can be detrimental to their short-term and long-term health. Children and adults who take antibiotics when it is not necessary may suffer stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea. The human body can also become resistant to certain kinds of antibiotics if taken too frequently.


How Can Sinusitis Be Treated Naturally?
Natural home remedies can greatly help alleviate the symptoms associated with sinusitis. Getting an abundance of rest may increase chances of a speedy recovery. Drinking plenty of fluids such as water and juice and avoiding drinking beverages with caffeine and alcohol will boost the immune system.

Neti Pot

The Neti Pot is an effective treatment for preventing and healing sinusitis.

Rinsing out the nasal passages with a neti pot using sterile, distilled warm water will help clear the sinuses. A saline solution should be used.  Saline packets are generally provided with the neti pot if a commercial brand is purchased. If distilled water is unavailable, water should be boiled and then cooled to a comfortable, warm temperature.  Cool or room temperature water should never be used, because this can cause headache pain, and a neti pot should never be used with tap water because of the harmful chemicals.  Care should be taken to tip the head, so that the water drains out safely from the other nostril.  A netipot is very effective in cleaning out the mucous from the nasal passages and removing infection. The netipot also prevents sinus infections and allergic reactions if one has been exposed to allergens.

Steam for Sinusitis

Breathing steam is an effective treatment for sinusitis.

Steam has been used for many years to clear the sinuses.  Boil water, place in a bowl, and create a “tent” with a towel over your head.  You may add essential oils such as mint, lemon, or garlic. Breathe in the steam to loosen the mucous in the nasal passages.  Repeat as often as necessary.

Quercetin for Sinusitis

Quercetin is found naturally in apples, blueberries, red onions and other colorful fruits and vegetables.

Quercitin has been found to be effective in helping to fight sinusitis. According to Deborahann Smith of Gaiam Life, “Quercetin is an anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting bioflavonoid found in the skin of red onions and apples. It helps decrease mucus production and swelling by blocking the release of histamine from immune cells.”Quercetin can be found in many fruits and vegetables such as cranberries, blueberries, kale, watercress and broccoli.”

Vitamin C and Vitamin E supplements will support the enhancement of the immune system. Covering the face with a warm towel will decrease facial pain associated with sinusitis and reduce inflammation in the nasal passages.

Sinus acupressureAcupuncture or acupressure uses pressure points on the body to work with sinusitis.  According to Michael Reed Gach, PhD, “to relieve your upper or frontal sinuses, use B2, located at the bridge of your nose.  This mental stress point is located in the indentation of your upper eye socket, where the bridge of the nose meets the ridge of your eyebrows. To open the maxillary sinuses in the cheek, use the foremost acupressure points for the sinuses: LI20 and St3, underneath your eyes, just below your cheekbones. Use gentle pressure.  These points are safe and useful to teach to people of all ages, children and adults.”  Reflexology sinus points are located at the tips of each finger and toe.  Gently massage the fingertips and toes to relieve sinus pressure and pain.

Sinusitis is a common infection that affects many people. It can be treated with proper treatment at home without having to take unnecessary antibiotics.

Resources
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases – Sinusitis
Center for Disease Control and Prevention – Sinus Infections
Mayo Clinic – Acute Sinusitis
Gaiam Life: Your Guide to Better Living – Natural Remedies for Sinusitis
Acupressure Points for Sinus Infection – Michael Reed Gach, PhD

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Hang Pham, MBHA Health EducatorThis article is written by Hang Pham, Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance Health and Wellness Educator.  Hang Pham was born in Hoc Mon, Vietnam.  She came to America in 1994, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2011. Hang graduated from Seaside High School with diploma and received her AA in General Studies from Monterey Peninsula College in 2011. She received her BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in 2012. In addition to working as a volunteer staff with the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, she currently works as a Clerical Aid in the Human Resources Department of Salinas City Hall. To find out more about our Health Educators, or to apply as a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance writer or volunteer, visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com


DISCLAIMER

The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501 (c) 3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Why Eat Antioxidants? What Are Antioxidants?

Why are antioxidants  important to our health? Which foods are high in antioxidants and what is the latest antioxidant research telling us?


Are All Antioxidants the Same?
No. An antioxidant is something that inhibits or stops the oxidation process, especially one that is used to change the deterioration of stored foods or food products.  Any chemical compound which has been added to certain foods, natural and synthetic rubbers, gasolines, and other products to retard oxidation is considered an anitoxidant. Antioxidants are also aromatic compounds such as amines, phenols, and aminophenols which are used to prevent the loss of elasticity in rubber and in the gummy deposits found in gasoline.  The preservatives  tocopherol (vitamin E), propyl gallate, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) are also antioxidants, which prevent rancidity in fats, oils, and fatty foods, but these are not the antioxidants that we are concerned about.


AntioxidantsWhich Antioxidants are Important?

For health purposes we are interested in antioxidants that stop oxidation caused by free radicals.  The  antioxidants that are important to our health and well-being are substances such as vitamin C or E that remove potentially damaging oxidizing agents in a living organism.  These types of antioxidants are prized for their amazing ability to fight heart disease, cancer, and aging.  There are hundreds, probably thousands, of different substances that can help our bodies, working as antioxidants. In the body, antioxidants such as beta-carotene, other related carotenoids, vitamin C, alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E), and selenium and manganese, can help to reduce oxidation caused by free radicals.   They’re joined by glutathione, coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, flavonoids, phenols, polyphenols, phytoestrogens, and many others.

Which Are the Best Antioxidant Foods?
Everybody has their own ideas of the best antioxidant foods.  The list of top antioxidant foods changes often (remember the excitement over acai fruit?). Surprisingly, many studies show that currently SMALL RED BEANS (they look like tiny kidney beans), sometimes called the Mexican bean, are topping the list, but many foods dark in color are rich in antioxidants. The best way to add a lot of antioxidants into the diet, is eat a large variety of  high antioxidant foods and not focus on only one. You don’t have to have products flown in from Nepal or the Amazon. You can find foods high in antioxidants close to home: pinto beans, blueberries, cranberries, pecans, pomegranate, artichokes, blackberries, raw spinach, prunes, raspberries, red grapes, pecans, Granny Smith apples, black beans and more.  Many antioxidant foods are a rich, dark color, raw, and whole (peeling and seeds included)! And remember, while blueberry pie is tempting, it doesn’t compare with a bowl of fresh blueberries. Living, raw, organic, non-GMO foods are always the best choice over packaged, dried, chemically-treated or frozen foods.


What Does Antioxidant Research  Show?

Results of research studies vary dramatically.  More long-term studies are needed.  A six-year trial, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS), published in theNational Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine, in the Archives of Opthamology, found that a combination of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc helped to prevent the development of advanced age-related macular degeneration (but not cataract development) in high-risk patients.  Lutein is a a naturally occurring carotenoid found in dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.  It was concluded that lutein may help to protect vision.

Other studies such as the lung cancer study by Omenn and other researchers, concluded that after an average of four years of supplementation, “the combination of beta carotene and vitamin A had no benefit and may have had an adverse effect on the incidence of lung cancer.”    Studies by Hercberg, and others, and Cook, and others, using randomized trials of antioxidant vitamins and supplements, showed insignificant results. The Hercberg study showed lower incidence of cancer in men, but not women.   The Cook study showed no significant effects of antioxidants ascorbic acid, vitamin E, or beta carotene on cardiovascular events among women at high risk for cardiovascular disease.  Beta-carotene was reported in the Physicians’ Health Follow-up Study to be beneficial on cognitive function,  after 18 years of follow-up.

“Existing biological and epidemiologic data, in combination with findings from this randomized trial, indicate that long-term beta carotene supplementation may provide cognitive benefits. The extent of benefits that we found for long-term beta carotene use appeared modest, but the mean differences in cognitive performance we observed were substantially greater compared with those in a trial of donepezil among nondemented subjects”

Results from research studies are inconclusive and conflicting. More research is needed for longer periods of time in order to scientifically determine the benefits of antioxidants.


Is it Good or Not?  What Should we Do?

It is well-known that free radicals contribute to many chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer,  vision loss, and  Alzheimer’s disease. Even though more research is needed,  abundant evidence suggests that eating whole foods rich in antioxidants and their helper molecules, such as dark berries, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can be of some help to  provide us with  protection against many of these diseases and to combat the effects of aging.