Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tackling the Flu Naturally

I have not been sick in about five years.

Exactly to what I owe this blessing, I'm not sure, but I've enjoyed my long string of wellness very much!

For the past couple of days, however, I have been flat on my back in bed with a serious case of what I presume is the flu, which has been plaguing our community for the past month or so and which many of my friends, colleagues, and students have had.

I am so much better today that I feel compelled to share here what we did--there are three of us sick in our household right now--that has caused such a serious turn-around for us.

First, the progression of my sickness (if you're interested in knowing what it might look like early on so you don't miss it, like I did):

Two weekends ago I went to a movie night for our ASL club at a home with cats.  I am allergic to cats, but sometimes I can handle it, so we took separate cars and I decided to give it a go.  I stayed the entire time and paid the price for it for several days following with an irritated respiratory tract and difficult breathing.  However, it got better without my becoming terribly sick.  I assume that was simply the cat-ness.

This past weekend (Friday and Saturday), I again had difficulty breathing and a sore chest.  I assumed this was the result of some residual irritation of my respiratory tract from the cat-ness, made worse by some sanding I had been doing in the bathroom we're re-doing.  Looking back now, I assume that this was actually the start of this sickness.  Since I didn't recognize it as such, I did not do any of the usual "immune boosting" things we do when we feel like an illness might be coming on.

Sunday, I started with some other mild symptoms: fever of 100 or so, slight headache, coughing, irritated airway.  I did take it easy all day and took one dose of "immune stuff" (see below), but since I didn't feel all that bad and had few symptoms other than fever to indicate that I might be getting really sick, I failed miserably with the rules regarding staving off an illness naturally.  I stayed up late and watched the Superbowl.  I ate all the junky food we had planned to serve at the gathering we had canceled (chicken wings, Mexican dip, chips, soda).  I felt pretty bad by bedtime, so I took some Nyquil before bed and figured I'd "sleep it off."

Sunday night things took a serious turn for the worse.  I awoke with 102 degree fever; a deep, painful cough; a severe headache; aching in every joint and muscle in my body; a sore throat; a stuffy nose; dizziness; and eyes that hurt if I rubbed them.  I have not been so miserably sick in many, many years.  (I remember a stomach virus one particular Christmas during which I lay on the bathroom floor, unable to move, convinced I was going to die.  But not since then have I been that sick.)  It was a long, miserable day yesterday, and I felt absolutely awful.

I am rather shocked (and pleased) that today the fever is broken and I feel much, much better.  Since the friends who responded on Facebook told me to expect five days at least, and that I needed Tamiflu to get through it, I figured I'd share all the "wacky" natural things we did to knock this thing out fast.  Since I don't know which things helped and which didn't, and since I pulled out my entire knowledge of every natural remedy I'd ever heard of, I share here a pretty long list of "kooky" natural remedies.  Something worked!

Here's what we who were actually sick did: (For preventive measures, see below.)

* prayed  for healing
* stayed in bed all day resting/sleeping

* took "immune stuff" every hour or two all day (never on a totally empty stomach!):
- 1,000 mg vitamin C (I took 2,000 since I had a fever, and I never got diarrhea, the sign of too much)
- echinacea/goldenseal combination tablets
- garlic tablets
- acidophilus tablets
- zinc lozenges

* drank Vitamix shakes made with whatever whole fruits and vegetables we had:
- carrots & mixed greens
- strawberries, kiwis, pears, apples, cranberries, black currants
- homemade yogurt
- kombucha tea

* drank kefir and kefir d'uva
* drank hot tea (for me it was vanilla Sleepytime)

* ate chicken soup made with homemade chicken stock
* ate nothing else (especially no junk or sugar!)

* took a hot bath with Epsom salts and breathed deeply of the steam
* used the Neti pot
* covered our chests with Vicks Vapo-Rub

* gargled with Listerine mixture (half water, half blue Listerine)
* soaked inside of our ears with hydrogen peroxide

* took no drugs to lower the fever, since fever helps the immune system function better

I'm quite sure that many of you are totally wigged out by this list.  But I felt so absolutely terrible yesterday, and feel so much better today, that I felt compelled to share.  My friends who are trying Tamiflu and are still suffering after five days might just be miserable enough to try it!  I hope none of the rest of you need it, but I would highly recommend it if you find yourself coming down with it!

As for prevention, I'll let you know how it worked ultimately, but here's what the not-sick-yet members of our family are doing to try to stave it off:

* pray (for health, for wellness, for a strong immune system, for mercy)

* take "immune stuff" several times a day (never on an empty stomach!)
- 1,000 mg vitamin C
- garlic tablets
- acidophilus tablets
- zinc lozenges
- NOT echinachea/goldenseal, which your body develops a resistance to if taken too long

* eat only healthy food
* eat NO SUGAR, which suppresses the immune system significantly for several hours after consumption

* get plenty of sleep

I don't know if they'll successfully keep from getting it, but they are ahead of the game from me, who totally missed the symptoms when they were coming on.  I'll let you know!


Laurie said...

Well, one day later, I still feel about the same. I am still coughing and having some irritation with my breathing, and my energy level and stamina are way down from my usual level. So, slow and steady...

Laurie said...

It is now Friday. The other three still remain symptom-free. For me, the cough and weakness still linger.

Laurie said...

Now it is Sunday, and I feel fine in terms of strength and stamina. The cough still lingers... (The other three have still never gotten sick!)