A 1892 advert for the amazing Carbolic Smoke Ball, which supposedly cured all manner of ailments (Image: Hulton Archive)

    Five ways to fight the flu – or why you should curl up with hot fruit cordial

    16 October 2014

    No one likes getting the flu and for some people, in particular the sick and elderly, the virus can prove deadly. So it’s worth taking a few simple steps in a bid to stave it off.

    1. Wash your hands. Use soap and water to wash off the germs you pick up on all the surfaces you touch (and make sure you clean them too). Wash hands often and thoroughly – sing “Happy Birthday” or another short song to yourself while you’re doing it. And grasp the tap with a piece of loo paper when you turn it off. Overkill? Maybe. But who wants the flu?

    2. Don’t smoke. You’re more likely to catch the flu if you smoke and the chances are your symptoms will be worse. So faced with that double whammy along with all the other health problems smoking brings, you might as well give up!

    3. Have a flu jab. Flu injections are offered to the over-65s, pregnant women, carers, and adults and babies from six months to two years who have a long-term medical condition, such as heart disease or a weakened immune system. It gives protection against the strains most likely to be circulating. Consider vaccinating the whole family, too – not only because flu is miserable for children, but also to stop the virus spreading.

    4. Dose yourself with elderberry. If you do feel the flu taking a grip, this natural remedy could help. No, we don’t mean eating the dark purple berries you see in the hedgerows, but taking elderberry extract known as Sambucol. Flu sufferers who took it as part in a Norwegian study found that their lurgy cleared up around four days earlier than it did for participants who took a placebo. Why? No one really knows but it’s possible that flavonoids, an antioxidant present in the extract, give the immune system a boost.

    5. Take comfort from hot fruit cordial. There is also evidence that drinking a hot fruit cordial – the study in question carried out by Cardiff’s Common Cold Centre used an apple and blackberry drink – brings relief from the sore throats, coughs, tiredness and chills that are part and parcel of a bout of flu.