Flu season is here again…
And it will last from now through early spring.
An average year sees 5% to 20% of our population affected by the flu virus, depending on the severity of the year's strain.
Influenza is caused by a highly contagious virus that typically infects us through the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, or eyes. Exposure to the virus can be airborne from a cough or sneeze — or it can come from touching a contaminated surface, such as a doorknob or telephone, and then touching your nose or mouth.
Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, aches, chills, and tiredness, and possibly a dry cough, sneezing, and sore throat.
If you find yourself sick with the flu, it's important to know your enemy — the influenza virus — so you can defeat it.
Since it is a virus (not bacteria) causing the infection, antibiotics won't work.
Hygiene can play a major role in prevention since the virus spreads through coughing, sneezing, or touching an infected surface. However, antibacterial soap or gels won't work!
The first 3 natural flu remedies are preventative; the second 3 are alternative methods of treatment.
1. Strengthen your immune system.
The flu is very contagious so it is critical to build and support a strong immune system which is better able to fight off the virus.
Be sure you are following a nutrient-dense, clean, real food diet all year long. This will help you get all the vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients you need for a strong immune system.
Some nutrients that play a particularly important role in immune boosting include balanced levels of vitamins D, A, B6, B12, and the minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper.
Bone broth, clean raw milk and cream, grassfed butter, pastured meats, organ meats, fermented foods and beverages, fresh vegetables and eggs from pastured hens are all good sources of the vitamins and minerals your immune system needs to stay strong.
And be sure you're NOT eating processed foods, vegetable oils, and lots of restaurant food because these only compromise your immune system.
Here are 8 more things you can do to boost your immune system.
2. Ditch the sugar.
Reduce or eliminate refined sugars of all kinds and even limit whole sweeteners, especially if you do get sick.
Sugar turns off your immune system for the duration of time it takes to be digested (source).
When you think about the amount of sugar typically eaten from Halloween through Christmas and Valentine's Day right up to Easter, is it any wonder this sugar-laden season parallels flu season?
Check out 7 Tips For Overcoming Sugar Addiction for help kicking your sugar habit.
3. Balance your gut flora.
Eating balanced meals prepared at home using GMO-free ingredients will go a long way to support a strong body and a healthy immune system (source).
The addition of fermented foods and drinks will strengthen gut flora since as much as 80% of the immune system resides in the GI tract.
According to a test done by Dr. Mercola, 1 serving of fermented vegetables has as many beneficial bacteria as an entire bottle of probiotic supplements (source)!
4. Use alternative remedies.
If, in spite of these important lifestyle strategies, someone in your family still catches the flu, there are many home remedies to help your body fight the flu virus.
Elderberry extract is one such powerful remedy. Elderberry prevents the flu virus from invading the membranes of healthy cells.
There have been several studies which prove that elderberry's anti-viral properties are effective against 10 strains of the flu. Also, that it relieves symptoms of fever, aches, and congestion 3 to 4 days earlier in people who used it than in those who didn't. (Source.)
One study showed 90% of elderberry extract users had complete recovery in 2 to 3 days (source). The studies used 15 milliliters of elderberry extract 4 times a day for 4 days. Half that amount was used with children over age 2.
Other effective virus-fighters include raw garlic, fresh ginger, and raw honey. You can make an all-purpose tincture that features both garlic and ginger and keep it on hand during cold and flu season.
A homemade vitamin C powder can be added to smoothies or mixed with a little raw honey for your daily dose. If you like the idea of making your own vitamins, a multi-vitamin tincture that includes C plus several other immune boosters is a great addition to your arsenal.
For even more food-based natural remedies, check out Lindsey's post: A Peek Into Our Medicine Cabinet: Fighting Illness With Food.
5. Try essential oils.
Mix 1/2 cup each distilled water and vodka in a spray bottle, then add 15 to 20 drops each of eucalyptus and thyme essential oils. Label the bottle and shake well before spraying it on doorknobs, counters, and other surfaces.
Or take a hot bath with a couple of drops each of tea tree, lavender, and thyme added to the bath water.
You can also refer to The Ultimate Guide to Essential Oil Properties for more information on anti-viral essential oils.
6. Don't forget homeopathy.
Homeopathy is another effective treatment for the flu.
If you are new to homeopathy, use just 1 or 2 pellets in the 6c, 12c, or 30c strength — then wait to see if there is improvement.
You can repeat the dose in an hour or two or wait several hours.
If there is no improvement, try a different remedy. Always consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
Here are additional remedies that can also be useful:
- Arsenicum album for fevers, influenza, anxiety, exhaustion, and restlessness.
- Bryonia for splitting headaches, influenza, dryness of mouth, excessive thirst, nausea, dizziness, and faintness on rising up.
- Cinchona officinalis for dehydration, influenza, traumatic fever, and pain in limbs and joints.
- Eupatorium perfoliatum for influenza with great soreness of muscles and bones, fever, and thirst.
- Gelsemium sempervirens for colds, aching, tiredness, heaviness, weakness in muscles, sneezing, drowsiness, and pain from throat to ear.
- Influenzinum for fever, headache, weakness and fatigue, general ill feeling with chill, headache, and dry cough.
Challenge Your Thinking
A bout of acute illness should be viewed not as a punishment, but as an exhilarating challenge to our thinking process. The onset of a cold or the flu is actually an opportunity to augment the body’s cleansing process…restoring balance to living organisms…[A]llow the mental body to accept infectious illness for what it is – the body’s demand for a chance to rest and detoxify. Infectious disease is actually illness that leads to health.
from The Fourfold Path to Healing by Thomas S. Cowan, MD
What strategies do you use to make it through flu season? Do you have any tried-and-true natural flu remedies?
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You are responsible for your own health and for the use of any remedies, treatments, or medications you use at home.
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