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   Every year the seasonal flu kills about 36,000 people and sends 200,000 to the hospital, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every year during "flu season" (typically starting around Thanksgiving and peaking around Christmas) there's a rush to get flu shots, especially among the elderly, the ill, and the very young.

   The most common symptoms of the flu are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pain, severe headache, coughing, weakness, and fatigue. Many of the symptoms are similar to other illnesses such as the common cold and people usually confuse the two sicknesses.  But they are not the same and should be treated separately. In more serious cases, influenza can cause pneumonia, which can be fatal. 

   Viruses are the invading organisms responsible for most epidemic illnesses. Virus-caused illnesses range from the common cold to cold sores, warts, measles and chicken pox, hepatitis, West Nile virus, the "ordinary" flu, and AIDS. The most recent virus is the Avian flu that has people on edge.

We can help prevent the passage of viruses from person to person by avoiding large indoor gatherings of people and exercising good sanitary practices - washing hands often, using tissues, ventilation of rooms, etc. people who have the flu are most infectious the 2nd and 3rd day after symptoms appear. Therefore it is important to avoid people who are showing signs of the flu. Influenza spreads through three main ways, direct transmission, airborne and hand contact.

Viruses are known to be resistant to pharmaceutical antibiotics. Although flu shots are available for those who want to be resistant to catching the flu, new strains are emerging all the time. The virus mutates frequently, therefore new strains are constantly being discovered, which people are not immune too.

   One naturally occuring substance that has started to receive much recognition in helping with the flu symptoms is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has various uses in medical treatments because of its triple antibiotic features, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal. Tea tree oil has been used in Australia for hundreds of years but was only really tested for its medicinal properties in the 1920’s. Further research about tea tree oil has prompted its recent popularity.

   Tea tree oil is a valuable alternative to pharmaceutical medicine. Its complex chemical composition makes it extremely difficult for germs to develop resistance. Traditional antibiotics possess more simple chemical structures to which germs can easily develop immunity. Tea tree oil is readily absorbed and it continues to block germ growth at the site for several days after the initial application. The oil is a proven immuno-stimulant and anti-viral agent.

  You should apply a small test amount to the skin before using it for the first time, as with any product, there is always the chance of sensitivity in any particular individual. Adding a couple drops to a vaporizer and inhaling the steam helps to freshen and disinfect the air, killing germs that infect the sinuses and lungs, and opening clogged respiratory passages. The oil can be rubbed into the skin at full strength, or mixed with a carrier oil or lotion. The oil can also be added to a hot bath and is then assimilated both through the skin and the nasal passages.

  Personal use of tea tree oil is not to be substituted for advice from your family doctor. It is, however, useful in prevention and as a first aid treatment. And there is anecdotal and scientific evidence of truly amazing results using this phenomenal substance.