Influenza, also known as flu, is the clinical condition that results from infection by influenza viruses. The main effects of the influenza viruses are on the upper respiratory tract, the nose and throat, with possible spread and involvement of the lungs.
The disease is highly contagious and it has potential to cause widespread epidemics affecting sizeable portion of a population at any time. Although it is more common during the cold months, it may strike at any time. It affects children and adults alike.
Influenza strikes suddenly. It usually begins with chills, fever, headache and severe muscular pains. The patient feels miserable and weak. There is an inflammation in the nose and throat, which may spread down the windpipe to the lungs, resulting in a sore throat, cough, running of the nose and eyes.
In milder cases, the temperature rises to 102 o F and lasts for two or three days. IN severe case, it may go upto 104 o F and last for four or five days. The consequent weakness and fatigue may continue for several weeks. This may be followed by a deep chest cough due to irritation in the windpipe.
Influenza is what is known as germ disease. It is, however, not caused primarily by the action of germs as is generally believed, but develops due to a toxic and run-down condition of the system of the affected person. This condition is brought about by dietetic errors and a faulty style of living such as worry, over work, lack of proper exercise, living in stuffy rooms and keeping late hours. No disease germs can find lodgement and become active in the system of a person who is perfectly healthy in the true sense of the term. Influenza ispased on with ease from the affected person to many others who are also in an equally low vital state. This gives rise to an epidemic.
Influenza, like all other acute diseases, is a natural attempt at self-cleansing and if rightly treated in a natural way, immense good can ensure so far as the future health of the patient is concerned.
In acute stage of influenza, the patient should abstain from all solid foods and take only liquid foods for two or three days. Vegetable and fruit juices will be especially beneficial. These juices can be diluted with water on 50 : 50 basis. The liquid diet should be continued till the temperature comes down to normal. The child-patient should be encouraged to take warm-water enema daily during this period to cleanse his bowels. Hot fomentations may be applied to the spine or back and chest. Simultaneously, cold compresses should be applied on the head. One or two glasses of hot water intake daily during this period will be beneficial.
After fever subsides the patient may adopt a diet of fresh fruits and milk for further two or three days. In this regimen, he should take fresh juicy fruits such as apple, pear, grapes, orange and pineapple, with a cup of milk sweetened with a teaspoon of honey. Thereafter, the patient may adopt a well -balanced diet consisting of seeds, nuts and grais, vegetables and fruits. He should avoid tea, coffee, meat, refined ,processed , stale and tinned foods.
Certain home remedies have been found beneficial in the treatment of influenza. The most important of these is the use of long pepper (pipli). A quarter teaspoon of long pepper powder mixed with a teaspoon of honey and a quarter teaspoon of juice of ginger should be given to the child-patient thrice daily. This will help greatly if taken in the initial stages of the disease. It is especially useful in avoiding complicationwhich follows the onset of the disease, namely, the involvement of the larynx and the bronchial tube.
Garlic (lahasson) is an excellent remedy for influenza. It is useful as a general antiseptic and should be given as much as the patient can bear. The juice of this vegetable may also be inhaled by the patient.
Turmeric (haldi) is valuable in curing influenza. Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder should be mixed in half a cup of warm milk and should be given to the child three times daily. It will prevent complications arising from influenza and also activate the liver which becomes sluggish during the attack.
Onion (piyas) is also an effective remedy for influenza. Equal amounts of onion juice and honey should be mixed and two or three teaspoons of this mixture should be taken daily in the treatment of this disease.
Ginger ( adrak) is an excellent remedy for influenza. Half a teaspoon of fresh ginger juice, mixed with half a cup of fenugreek (methi) decoction and honey to taste may be given to the child- patient. It is an excellent diaphoratic mixture which increases sweating to reduce fever in this disease.
Another effective remedy for this disease is the green leaves of basil (tulsi) plant. About half a gram of these leaves should be boiled along with some ginger in quarter litre of water till about half the water is left. This decoction should be taken as tea. It gives immediate relief.
Fumigation of burnt flour of finger millet (ragi) is useful in influenza. It should be inhaled gently. It will increase the blood circulation in the nasal mucosa, and will reduce the local congestion, and open the stuffy nose.