As the cold and flu season are quickly approaching, it is important for us to know and understand how viruses affect your body. We should also know the natural precautions that we can take to prevent the misery that accompanies these infections. Viruses, which possess a keen sense of survival, attempts to bypass your body's immune system by growing in areas where the immune system has no access, mutating to alter their identity which results in a delayed immune response, and causing suppression of the immune system. Some good examples of viruses include HIV and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
A viral infection can range from the common cold to something as fatal as ebola. However, the most common viral infections are the common cold and influenza. The common cold, rhinovirus, is made up of a single-stranded RNA nucleic acid molecule and is responsible for approximately fifty percent of common colds. It only infects the upper respiratory tract, but once infected our bodies make a specific antibody to avoid being reinfected by this strain of rhinovirus again. Influenza is classified into three categories: A, B, and C. The flu is most commonly caused by Influenza A, which often occurs in epidemics during the late fall and early winter. The most common victims of this viral infection are school children, leaving them ill for approximately forty-eight hours. Acute symptoms of Influenza A, which include chills, fever, headache, a cough, and muscular aches and pains, usually go away within two or three days. Those with chronic pulmonary disease, valvular heart disease, or heart disease are at risk for serious complications caused by this viral infection.
Thankfully, there are a few medicinal herbs which can assist your immune system, allowing it to fight off unwelcome viruses. Echinacea, astragalus, reishi, lomatium, and licorice root are at the top of the list as the most powerful viral-fighting herbs. Additionally, maitake, elderberry, olive leaf, and St. John's wort also exhibit great anti-viral actions and help to work against flu viruses. It is recommended that patients use a supplement which blends the following five herbs: Echinacea, lomatium, astragalus, reishi, and licorice root. Echinacea, which is one of the most widely studied herbs, has repeatedly demonstrated that it reduces inflammation and fever while boosting cell production in many studies. Echinacea also contains polysaccharides, which speed up production of interferon, which stops the viral invader from spreading into adjacent cells.
Lomatium is a modulator of the immune system and a favorite amongst herbalists for colds, the flu, and other viral infections. Astragalus has been shown to boost the immune system and inhibit certain viruses including Coxsackle B virus. Reishi is a reddish-orange type of mushroom that contains polysaccharides with the highest levels of immune-stimulating properties. Studies involving reishi mushrooms conclude it yields good results especially in treating hepatitis and bronchitis. Licorice root, which has been a key ingredient in most Chinese herbal formulas for over 3,000 years, contains glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhetinic acid which boot production of interferon. It contains active phytochemicals which display antiviral properties that are strong enough to overpower herpes simplex viruses' type 1 and 2, certain flu viruses, and Epstein-Barr.
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