Influenza, also known as flu, is the clinical condition that results from infection with influenza virus. The main effects of the influenza virus are on the upper respiratory tract, the nose and throat, with possible spread and involvement of the lungs and bronchi. It is highly contagious and it has a potential to cause widespread epidemics affecting a sizeable portion of a population at any time.
Although the disease is more common during the cold months, it may strike at any time. It affects people of all ages.
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 of influenza, the temperature rises to 102 o F and lasts for two or three days. In severe cases, it may go upto 104 o F and last for four to five days. The weakness and fatigue that follows may continue for several weeks. This may be followed by a deep chest cough due to irritation in the windpipe.
In children the disease may start with a convulsion and a rapid rise in temperature to 105 o F to 106 o F. The patient feels extremely weak.
Influenza is what is known as ‘ germ disease. ‘ It is , however, now caused primarily by the action of the germs and 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, overwork, lack of proper exercise, living in stuffy rooms and keeping late hours. No 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 is passed on with ease from the affected person to many others who are also in an equally low vital state. That is how an epidemic starts.
Influenza, like all other acute diseases, is a natural attempt at self-cleansing and if rightly treated in a natural way, immense good can ensue so far as the future health of the patient is concerned. The treatment of the disease along modern medical lines may bring about many complications such as pneumonia, kidney disorders, ear and chest troubles. This is due to the suppressive nature of the treatment which halts the cleansing process and forces toxic matter deeper into the system again.
In the acute stage of influenza, the patient should abstain from all solid foods and only drink fruit and vegetable juices diluted with water, in the proportion of 50 : 50 for the first three to five days, depending on the severity of the disease. The juice fast should be continued till the temperature comes down to normal. A warm water enema should be taken daily during this period to cleanse the bowels.
After fever subsides, the patient may adopt an all-fruit diet for two or three days. In this regimen, the patient should take three meals a day of fresh juicy fruits such as apples, pears, grapes oranges, pineapples, peaches and melons at five-hourly intervals. Bananas, or dried, stewed or tinned fruits, however, should not be taken. No other foodstuff should be added to the fruit meals, otherwise the value of the treatment will be lost. This may be followed by a further two or three days on fruit and milk diet. Thereafter, the patient may adopt a well-balanced diet of three basic food groups, namely, seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits as outlined in Chapter 1 on Diet in health and disease.
Spices and condiments, and pickles, which make food more palatable and lead to overeating, must be avoided. Lemon juice may be used in salad dressing. Alcohol, tobacco, strong tea and coffee, highly seasoned meats, over-boiled milk, pulses, potatoes, rice, cheese, refined, processed, stale and tinned foods should all be avoided.
Carrot and spinach juices have been found specially beneficial in the treatment of influenza. The juices of these two vegetables may be taken separately or in combination by mixing six ounces of spinach juice with ten ounces of carrot juice. The vegetables should, however, be thoroughly washed with plenty of cold, running water to remove the remnants of insecticide sprays, etc. before juices are extracted. D
uring the course of the fever, the natural way of reducing temperature is by means of cold packs. It is advisable to apply a body pack several times a day, with one to the throat in case of a sore throat. The pack is made by wringing out a sheet or other large square piece of linen material in cold water, wrapping it right around the body and legs of the patient and then covering completely with a blanket. In case of the throat pack, the linen may be covered with a piece of flannel. The packs can be kept for an hour or so. The body should be sponged with tepid water after removing the pack. The patient should be kept in bed and should stay there till he is well again.