Thursday, February 7, 2013

A New Twist on an Old Flu Remedy

Influenza is particularly hard on the very young and the very old, and most of us know to take whatever preventative measures we can, such as getting a flu shot (or nasal spray if you qualify).

Every few years, a strain of the flu hits the U.S. hard, and this year is one of those years. While California initially was the exception to a nationwide outbreak, it's since racked up enough cases to be a highly impacted state. Flu can be especially hard on both caregivers and their loved ones with dementia. Keeping food and liquids down becomes more difficult, and fevers can bring on delirium if they last too long. The requisite quartantine to stop the contagion just adds to the misery.

Recently Time magazine wrote about a novel approach to dealing with the flu - an "Influenza Sorbet" that left doctors dubious about its claims. They admit though, that some ingrediants can help alleviate some symptoms.

Here's what they had to say about some of the more common ones we associate with flu remedies:

Orange and Lemon Juice. Both juices are high in vitamin C, but data does not confirm that consuming a lot of vitamin C will make a difference when you are actually sick. You need to drink your juice before the germs invade.

Cayenne and Ginger. These spices have anti-inflammatory properties that may make you feel less feverish and reduce the joint pain, headache, and muscle aches that accompany the flu — especially the ingredient capsaicin in pepper. They also help you clear your sinuses ... or at least feel like you have.

Honey and Pectin. “Honey and pectin both provide a coating over the mucous membrane of the throat to soothe any irritation and inflammation,” says Dr. Malcolm Taw, an Assistant Clinical Professor at the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. Honey has anti-bacterial properties and has been used as an antiseptic. Pectin is also an ingredient in cough drops.

Alcohol. Maybe because it's an ingredient in over-the-counter remedies, people think a shot is worth a shot. Um, no. You may be able to fall asleep sooner, but it's also a diuretic that will make it even harder to stay hydrated.

Chicken Soup. It's the warmth of the soup that makes you feel better, helping to warm the body and, based on a wildly popular book series, the soul. But chicken soup is more for cold sufferers, not those battling influenza, though some doctors believe chicken soup contains an amino acid that is similar to a drug used to treat some respiratory infections."

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