Swine flu has become a buzz-word over the last couple of months as it jumped the borders of the originating country, Mexico, and spread globally like wildfire. Also known as swine influenza virus (SIV), influenza A or by its subtype identifier of H1N1, swine flu refers to any strain of influenza endemic to pigs. Although widespread among pig populations worldwide, the H1N1 strain is not commonly contracted by humans. It can, however, cross species divides and when conditions are favorable lead to the previously experienced pandemic situation.
This is not the first time the H1N1 virus has spread unchecked either. In 1918-1919 an estimated 21 million people died from a swine flu pandemic. Although the influenza virus is virulent, there is much that can be done to protect ones naturally naturally against the virus. Just as in the case of human influenza, contracting swine flu can be checked to a large degree by maintaining high levels of personal hygiene and dietary integrity. All viral infections will find fertile ground in those with compromised immune systems first and in following good basic hygiene practices and ensuring that our diets are geared towards strong, active immune system function can prevent viruses the foot hold they need to thrive and survive.
Good virus busting personal hygiene habits that should make up part of a natural swine flu prevention regimen include regularly washing your hands with a good quality hand sanitizer, using a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and avoiding excessive hand contact with your mouth or nose. These points are of particular importance if you have been in physical contact with fixtures in public facilities, having been working with money or any other items that are exposed to wide public contact. Areas where an outbreak of swine flu has been positively confirmed should naturally be avoided as far as possible. Be particularly cautious of crowed and poorly ventilated locations.
Avoiding exposure to viral infections is not the most effective method of avoiding contracting infections such as swine flu. Our first line of defense should always be the maintenance of a strong, natural immunity. There are many diet and lifestyle standards that can assist our bodies to maintain a vibrant immune system and these should be followed at all times and not just as an attempt to prevent the spread of swine flu. Our modern diets are notoriously deficient in essential nutrients and we need to consciously bias our daily nutritional intake to include foods rich in vitamins, minerals and essential micronutrients. This is made far easier with the widespread availability of nutritional supplements that can be a quick and convenient method of bolstering our immune systems.
If any influenza infection is suspected, a doctor should be consulted immediately. If the infection is positively identified as being due to exposure to the H1N1 virus, specific medical measures will be instituted by your doctor. The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to those of human influenza however, and there are several natural remedies that can relate them. Some old, proven standards are:
Willow bark extracts: A predecessor to aspirin, willow bark contains salicin which is a powerful pain killer and fever buster.
Peppermint: Peppermint sooths coughs and as a mild muscle relaxant helps reduce the cough reflex.
Slippery elm: Contains mucilage which is an effective remedy for sore throats and coughs. Okra also contains mucilage.
Mullein flowers: These can be used in an infusion to make an expectorant and decongestant tea.
Ginger: Ginger is an effective remedy for upset stomachs and nausea.
Echinacea: This is one of the most effective natural remedies for all flu related symptoms. It is also known to shorten the duration of infections.
Watercress: Either dry or fresh, watercress is a good remedy for runny noses and coughs.
Swine flu is certainly not in the same league as the common cold. It is highly contagious and as proven fatal in an alarming number of cases involving individuals with compromised immune system function due to age or pre-exsisting illness. However, it can be invented in many cases by simply following sound common sense practices and a solid immunity boosting diet. As mentioned previously, do not hesitate to seek professional medical advice if you suspect exposure or exhibit any flu like symptoms.