Just six weeks into the official flu season, Australia has already reported 8914 cases of laboratory confirmed influenza – up 25 per cent on this time last year.
The number of laboratory confirmed cases in May has increased by 134% over last year. April's influenza statistics were more than double that of 2014.
The World Health Organisation International Influenza Report said Australia's influenza activity continued to increase and surpassed the seasonal threshold.
Nutritional Consultant with Australis Natural Health College, Stephen Eddey said the influenza season is expected to peak in August so we may be in store for a bad season.
In the USA, influenza reached epidemic levels during the Northern Hemisphere winter. The H3N2 strain of influenza was linked to a significant increase in influenza cases, particularly amongst children and teenagers.
But it's not too late boost your immunity to defend against the dreaded flu.
Mr Eddey said olive leaf extract could be your secret weapon to help build a strong front-line winter defense with Comvita's Fresh-Picked™ Olive Leaf Extract, shown to have five times more antioxidant power than the equivalent amount of Vitamin C according to a scientific study.
Research suggests that olive leaf compounds may enhance the body's efforts to fight invading organisms via two different processes. Firstly, olive leaf compounds appear to stimulate our immune cells to engulf and destroy invading organisms. Secondly, they interfere with the ability of bacteria and viruses to replicate themselves and cause infection.
Research conducted at Australia's Southern Cross University and published in The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine (2007) showed the olive leaf as the most powerful, free-radical-scavenging antioxidant of 55 medicinal herbs.
Mr Eddey said olive leaf extract has traditionally been used as a strong antimicrobial agent proving beneficial for supporting the immune system.
'Research shows that fresh-picked olive leaf extract may provide powerful immune system support and relief of symptoms of the common cold and flu, coughs and fever
'Antioxidants act as -free-radical scavengers, helping to quench free radical activity which are the cause of a weaker immune system and inflammation," Mr Eddey said.
Research indicates that olive leaf extract contains a strong broad spectrum of over 20 antioxidants including Oleuropein, a polyphenol compound, which has been shown to be one of the most powerful antioxidants.
'Studies show that Oleuropein has higher antioxidant activity than vitamin C and E because of the unique way it works in synergy with the other antioxidants found in olive leaves". Mr Eddey said
'Olive leaf extract is also naturally rich in the nutrients selenium, zinc, iron, vitamin C and betacarotene. These nutrients are important for the healthy functioning of the immune system and general good health".
Influenza is a highly contagious that can be spread through coughing and sneezing.
In Australia, influenza causes 18,000 hospitalisations and 300,000 GP consultations on average every year.
Influenza is caused by a virus and causes more severe illness than the common cold. It can cause serious and debilitating complications, including pneumonia, especially in people that are vulnerable such as the elderly and other in the "at risk" group.
Comvita's Fresh-Picked™ Olive Leaf Extract is uniquely produced using fresh-picked leaves with extraction taking place before noon to ensure the very freshest olive leaf extract is bottled. Comvita's fresh-picked, fresh-processed system keeps their olive leaf extract as close to nature as possible by retaining all of the plant polyphenols that occur naturally in the olive leaf.
The olive trees cultivated on Comvita's Queensland plantations are from a carefully selected species, identified from years of rigorous research to have the highest antioxidant yield.
The Comvita Fresh-Picked™ Olive Leaf Extract product range is available in four sizes including a 30 day supply 500ml bottle (RRP $40.50), a 200ml Mixed Berry flavoured extract for children (RRP $33.75).
Comvita's Fresh-Picked™ Olive Leaf Extract is available at most pharmacies and health food stores nationwide. Contact 1800 466 392 or visit www.olea.com.au.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, please see your health professional.
Question: Why do you believe the number of flu patients in Australia are up by over 50% this year compared to the same time in 2014?
Stephen Eddey: There are several factors. The most important one being the cyclic changes in the weather patterns. This winter has been a bit colder than last year and the dropping temperatures stimulates the growth of some viruses in the body. Along with the colder weather, our habits change, including our attraction to the couch and maybe fast food. r
Question: What are the flu symptoms?
Stephen Eddey: The Flu is much more severe than the common cold that has mild symptoms and lasts a few days. The flu symptoms include:
A 38C or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
A cough and/or sore throat.
A runny or stuffy nose.
Headaches and/or body aches.
Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhoea (most common in children)
Question: How can we prevent the flu?
Stephen Eddey: Good hygiene, such as hand washing, is the first step to preventing the flu. Another vital way we can prevent the flu is to keep our immune system strong by consuming a healthy dies full of vegies, salads, fruit, good quality proteins, while avoiding junk foods. A good multivitamin will also help with immunity.
Question: Is it important to get the flu vaccination?
Stephen Eddey: For certain individuals it is, such as the elderly and frail and the flu can be fatal in this group. Please speak to your Doctor about whether the flu shot is important for you.
Question: If we do believe we've come in contact with the flu; what should we do?
Stephen Eddey: Start taking immune boosting supplements straight away (see the top 5 supplements below). Also, drink plenty of fluids and rest up.
Question: How can we protect ourselves against the expected flu peak in August?
Stephen Eddey: I take supplements, such as Fresh-Picked olive leaf extract by Comvita daily to keep my immune system strong and, touch wood, since taking it, I haven't even caught a sniffle.
Question: What are your top five natural tips to strengthen our immunity?
Stephen Eddey: Fresh-Picked olive leaf extract
Consuming a healthy diet
Taking a multivitamin
Try to reduce stress by relaxation techniques.
Question: What is olive leaf extract and why is it beneficial to our health?
Stephen Eddey: Olive Leaf Extract is a potent herbal medicine used to boost the immune system. The best form of olive leaf to take is when the plant is picked first thing in the morning and extracted on the same day. By doing this, you preserve the potent phytochemicals found in the leaves, which are responsible for its antioxidant and immune boosting properties.
Question: How much and how often should we take olive leaf extract?
Stephen Eddey: Fresh-Picked Olive Leaf Extract should be taken daily at a dosage of 5-10ml to prevent colds and flu. If you do catch a flu or cold, you can increase the dose to 15ml per day.
Interview by Brooke Hunter