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05 September 2009

If You Get the Flu. . .

I'd like to go over a few wonderful herbs to help you recover if you get the flu. For the purposes of this discussion, I'm suggesting using only tinctures in 100 proof alcohol - no capsules.

Elecampane (Inula Helenium)

You'll need to keep a moderate amount of Elecampane tincture around. It's easy to make your own by the way, but you can also purchase it. Elecampane is the ultimate lung ally! Use this herb when you feel the lung congestion associated with the flu (that tightness gripping your chest); many of the people who die from the flu, die from the infection moving into their lungs; they literally drown from not being able to breathe; Elecampane is the life guard coming to rescue the drowning person - and she can swim fast, too. For adults, I'd suggest using about one dropper full, that's about 25 drops, in a glass of water as many times as needed during the day, up to 4 to 6, but only when your lungs are suffering - you can adjust that dosage for younger folks. I wouldn't take it if your lungs are clear or after they clear, only take it when there is a problem. Seems to work best when not over-used. Elecampane is soothing and a gentle expectorant.

Echinacea Angustifolia

Keep large amounts of Echinacea tincture around - you use it a lot, especially if you have a family. The dose is to use 1 drop for each 2 pounds of body weight, so I weigh 200 lbs, and my dose is 100 drops (4 droppers full) in water. I can take that dose as many times a day as needed, every few hours if necessary. As I start to recover, I want to lessen the frequency of the dose but keep the dose the same. Echinacea will also help prevent the life threatening secondary infections that complicate matters with the flu, especially lung infections. You may not need the Elecampane if you use the Echinacea. You go to the Elecampane when the Echinacea does not seem to be strong or effective enough.

St. John's Wort

You'll probably use very large amounts of this herb so keep a lot on hand! I may use from four to six (or many more) droppers full several times a day if I've got the flu; St. John's Wort will ease our body aches as it keeps the virus at bay. You'll know you've used enough when the body aches lessen; when they come back, you need to use more or more frequently. This herb is especially useful before bed; you'll sleep much better without those aches and pains. Unlike Elecampane or Echinacea, St. John's Wort can be used as a preventative as well as after you've gotten sick and St. John's Wort can and should be used afterwards for a few days, whereas you'd stop the Elecampane as soon as your lungs clear and the Echinacea a day or two after you're feeling better, you could still take a preventative dose of St. John's Wort a week or so afterwards.

Think of your body as a beautiful palace. Surrounding the palace are lush tropical gardens. Around the gardens is a stone wall, covered with ivy. On the outside of the wall is a river flowing around the palace walls. Outside of the river is sandy soil with a few plants here and there. The flu virus could be pictured as invaders who approach the river, advancing slowly at first, leaving footprints in the mud. If you don't stop them at the river, they cross the river and get to the wall. If you don't stop them at the wall, they climb over and enter the gardens. If they should get past the gardens and enter the palace, you've got a real problem! The St. John's Wort will keep them from crossing the river. The Echinacea will strive to boot them out once they try to scale the wall, and the Elecampane will repel them once they cross the wall and try to enter the gardens. It is a multi-layered defense system. You employ the herbs at each level, changing the defense as needed if one herb is or isn't successful at protecting your body.

So an herbal prescription might look like this. St. John's Wort: four to six droppers full, 100-150 drops, 1X a day to prevent flu or 1 or 2X per day if you think you've been exposed. Once you know you've got the virus, take as often as needed, maybe up to four or more times a day. Echinacea: 1 drop per 2 pounds of body weight, only take when you're sick and for a short while thereafter, several times a day, increasing the frequency until you start to feel better; gradually taper down the frequency when you are feeling better but don't stop all at once; even take for a few days after you feel all better. Elecampane: around 25 drops, only when active lung congestion/infection is present. You should feel immediate relief after taking the Elecampane. If you don't, take another dose. Stop taking when your lungs clear.

Remember, these are guidelines, not hard and fast rules. Adjust them and work with your body's natural rhythms and always be flexible.

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