Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Your health: How can I stave off 'man flu'?

20 comments
My boyfriend is completely immobilised when he comes down with the man-flu. Photo / iStock
My boyfriend is completely immobilised when he comes down with the man-flu. Photo / iStock

Hi Sandra, every year, my boyfriend comes down with a nasty case of man-flu. It totally immobilizes him and while I'm more than happy to take care of him, it would be great if this year he doesn't get a glorified case of the sniffles. What can I start incorporating into his routine now to stave the man-flu off?

The man flu is a hotly disputed condition and is never nice for anyone involved. Recent studies have shown that men may experience more severe flu symptoms than women, with testosterone being found to potentially weaken their immune response at a cellular level. So after all, man flu does not seem to be a myth!

However, in all seriousness, in times of colds and flu, you are absolutely correct that prevention is always the best cure.

In preparation for the winter months making sure the immune system is primed and supported can help reduce the likelihood of falling ill. You can do this through a variety of different options; such as incorporating traditional medicinal teas or oral liquids into both yours and your partner's daily regimes.

Depending on what your partner prefers, you can suggest to him to fill his drink bottle with an immune boosting tea he can sip away over the day or, if he's after a quick solution, taking one to three teaspoons of an antiviral oral liquid can help give him a broad protection.

When considering proven traditional plant medicines to incorporate into your daily regime, look for the following plants:

Thyme (Thyme vulgaris) is one of the most well-known plants for respiratory infections. It fights infections whether they are bacterial, viral, or fungal - all common in different phases of respiratory illness.

Thyme relaxes the bronchial tubes to reduce the coughing reflex when it is overactive, and it can act as an expectorant to help bring up stuck phlegm, a breeding ground for bacteria. Due to its far reaching abilities, thyme is used for a wide variety of illnesses - from colds and flus, to bronchitis, tonsillitis, asthma and allergies.

Research that supports the use of thyme in acute bronchitis also found that those who used the plant remedy took less paracetamol and antibiotics than those who took the placebo. This indicates that their infections and symptoms were less severe throughout the duration of their illness.

Thyme has also shown to be effective against some strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and to improve the effectiveness of antibiotics against resistant bacteria such as MRSA.

Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) helps with stimulating the immune system and defending against viruses and infection. It also has antibacterial and antiviral properties, which are essential for combating winter illnesses. It is particularly effective for sinus infections.

Linden blossom (Tilia platyphyllos) has powerful bioactive constituents that can help with head cold prevention and reducing excess mucous, making it a great plant to assist with the recovery from colds and flus.

If he does fall sick, remember to tell him to keep up his liquid intake (this is where medicinal tea is great as you get both the hydration and therapeutic constituents from the tea), and also to rest in order to recuperate better. Stay away from work when sick as you may pass it onto others and no one appreciates that!

Remembering to support your immune system daily will help to reduce the incidence of illnesses this season, and traditional plant medicine is a great way to make sure you are on the right side of man flu. All the best for a healthy winter!

June is Men's Health Month, an international awareness month that aims to raise the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment.

Supported by the not-for-profit Men's Health Trust, the theme for men's health month 2016 is #MenStartTalking. Visit menshealthmonth.co.nz for more information.

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Sandra is a medical herbalist, medical anthropologist, and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Sandra Clair is the founder of Artemis (artemis.co.nz) offering New Zealanders a premium range of traditional plant medicine products. She is one of New Zealand’s most highly qualified health professionals in her field, as a Swiss trained medical herbalist and a medical anthropologist (M.A.). Sandra is currently completing a PhD in health science at the University of Canterbury in collaboration with the Chair for Natural Medicine of the University of Zürich, Switzerland.

Read more by Sandra Clair

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