Using Antioxidants to Treat Mono
What Are Free Radicals?
When your body breaks down food, molecules are produced from the process called free radicals. Free radicals are also caused by environmental substances like tobacco smoke and radiation, and they have an adverse effect upon your health. They can damage cells and have been found to play a role in serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Your body utilizes oxygen to break down food and for myriad other processes. Unfortunately, the same oxygen that is so beneficial also has harmful side effects, especially the production of oxidants.
Oxidants, commonly called free radicals, are the result of oxidation inside the body. Just as oxidation creates rust that breaks down the surface of metals, oxidation inside the body causes the breakdown of cells. The DNA, proteins and fats are attacked by free radicals and this chain of events leads to a weakening of the immune system. This of course leads to all kinds of infections and illnesses, many of them chronic conditions.
Antioxidants to Fight the Free Radicals
Antioxidants are obtained through our food and through supplementation and they are able to slow down or prevent the oxidative damage to our bodies. Antioxidants are like Pac Man, gobbling up free radicals and repairing the damage that is caused by them. Antioxidants enhance the immune system and lower the risk of serious infections. They bind together with the harmful molecules and reduce their destructive ability allowing for cell repair and healing.
Compromised Immune System and EBV
A compromised immune system is fair game for the Epstein-Barr virus, a member of the herpes family of viruses. Most people worldwide have been exposed to this virus, and some end up with a manifestation of infectious mononucleosis as a result. The symptoms of mono include fever, swollen lymph nodes, chronic fatigue, night sweats and loss of appetite. Generally these symptoms abate after a few weeks. There is no commonly accepted medication protocol for mono other than rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain killers. However, many people have benefitted greatly by including antioxidant supplements as part of the healing process.
Vitamins that are Antioxidants
There are several different vitamins that are effective in boosting the immune system. Vitamins A and C along with selenium and zinc may be helpful in strengthening the immune system in order to fight the virus. They help reduce the severity and duration of the mono symptoms, although adding additional supplements with these vitamins have not been shown to help with mono treatment.
Echinacea and Astralagus
A very common supplemental antioxidant that has consistently been shown to be effective is Echinacea. Often used to help the immune system fight infections, Echinacea supplements come in tablet form, teas, and tinctures. Unless a person is allergic to members of the daisy family (ragweed, daisies and marigolds), Echinacea is considered safe to use.
Another herbal supplement which may be effective in the treatment of mononucleosis is astralagus. The University of Maryland Medical Center explains that the properties of astralagus seem to have antiviral and immune-boosting value that can be effective for the treatment of illnesses that are viral. Taken orally in tablet or tincture form, astralagus is able to work as an antioxidant freeing the immune system to fight viral infections like mono.
One of the best known antioxidants is green tea, which also happens to be the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Green tea comes from the same plant as black tea, but since it is not processed as much as black tea, it retains more of the healthy plant substances. High levels of polyphenols, which are very strong antioxidants, are found in green tea leaves. One of the polyphenols in green tea is more than 200 times more powerful than Vitamin E when it comes to fighting free radicals. Green tea extract helps reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Although it can be taken in tablet form, a nice cup of hot green tea may be just the thing to soothe and heal a sore throat due to mono.
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