With flu season upon us, you may be wondering how to completely avoid its unpleasantries altogether. Or if you’ve already caught it – how you can quickly remedy it. Either way, this post is for you.
For those that are unfamiliar, the flu (influenza) is an infection caused by a virus that affects the nose, throat and lungs. Every year, 10-20% of the United States population gets the flu!
What is the flu?
People often wonder whether they have a cold or the flu. Both diseases are caused by viruses that infect the respiratory system, and both the cold and flu include symptoms like:
- Chest congestion
However, flu symptoms are more severe and also include:
- Muscle aches
- High Fever
- Severe fatigue
Flu symptoms can develop quickly and may make it impossible to get out of bed for days. While colds rarely have severe complications, the flu can have potentially deadly complications such as pneumonia.
Furthermore, according to the Center for Disease Control, the flu is extremely contagious. When someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes, microscopic droplets can travel up to six feet and be inhaled by another person. Talk about nasty!
Plus, most people spread it before they experience symptoms. So it’s important to remember that a healthy immune system can fight off and prevent the flu virus from affecting you. Having a depressed immune system can lead to the flu.
Luckily, if you do happen to succumb to it – natural remedies can help! But first, we’ll talk about common conventional flu remedies and their effects.
Common Conventional Flu Remedies
The most common way to combat the flu is to get vaccinated every year before the flu season begins. And yet, millions of people still come down with the flu every year.
How effective are vaccines?
FluMist, a nasal spray vaccine brand, shared 2015 to 2016 company results from their influenza vaccine effectiveness study and found FluMist was 46 percent effective, compared with the flu shot’s 65 percent effectiveness (of preventing the flu). Additional stats confirm vaccine effectiveness typically range between 40% and 60%.
If you ask me, those numbers don’t inspire confidence in their ability to prevent the flu!
Yet, organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which people turn to to make important health decisions, still support the use of vaccinations.
Except for one small recommendation change for the 2016-2017 season, where the CDC actually recommended against the use of the nasal spray vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) after claiming it was safe and effective for years. *The page citing that has now been conveniently removed from the CDC site. Unfortunately, they still recommend the use of injectable influenza vaccines (including inactivated influenza vaccines and recombinant influenza vaccines).
In addition to low effectiveness, vaccines have large potential for side effects. Minor side effects include soreness, fever, aches, cough, wheezing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting headache, and fatigue. While more serious side effects like an increased risk for Guillain-Barre syndrome (rapid onset of muscle soreness caused by the immune system), seizures and even life-threatening anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction that may cause death) can occur.
Vaccinations aren’t the only conventional treatment option for the flu, there are also antiviral medications available, including Tamiflu, zanamivir and peramivir. These medications are used to prevent and treat the flu and reduce the severity of the symptoms by preventing the viruses from reproducing.
These prescription medications (also called neuraminidase inhibitors) can cause side effects, like nausea, vomiting, dizziness and behavioral side effects like confusion, hallucinations, and delirium. Some doctors argue that when you consider the side effects, the drugs cause more harm than good.
So after all of that, you may be wondering what you can do naturally to get rid of your flu.
Fortunately, there are many drug-free home remedies that can provide symptom relief and also provide the immune system support you need to fight off all sicknesses.
12 Natural Flu Remedies
My number one natural flu remedy is Wellness ImmuNow. It is composed of something called humic acid, which “is an organic substance derived from natural compounds found in humus soil.” They have conducted preliminary research that is quite promising and shows that it may support immune function and overall health and wellness.
There have been dozens of times that I have been coming down with the flu or a cold and if I take 2 tablets right away, it never develops. Sometimes, if I’m not aware of how I’m feeling and take it too late, then it lasts for just a few days. But this stuff really works!
This is not an affiliate link and I’m in no way compensated for promoting this product! I just truly believe in Wellness ImmuNow, take it myself and want to share with you.
When you’re sick, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water. But it helps.
Water flushes viruses, bacteria and other harmful toxins from your body. It oxygenates your blood, which means that your red blood cells will carry all that oxygen to your lungs, brain, and muscles so that you can have more energy. Even when you don’t have the flu, being dehydrated can cause muscle aches, fever, and headache. Drinking enough water is the first step to feeling better.
3. Hot Liquids
A tall glass of cold water can feel good when you have a sore throat. But here is something that will make you feel even better…mix honey and lemon into a cup of hot water.
Warm liquids can also be very soothing when you’ve got muscle aches and chills. Tea, lemon and honey water, broth, and ginger water can prevent mucus buildup and also give you some antioxidant boosts.
Drinking warm liquids will also help you stay hydrated. When you have the flu you often lose a lot of liquid through sweating, and even when your nose runs. The more you drink the better. Just be sure to avoid drinks that cause dehydration, like caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
Try our Caffeine-Free Hibiscus Tea recipe. The fresh lemon version is a personal favorite of mine.
4. Raw Garlic
My mom and dad have an amazing organic garden at their house and my dad’s hallmark is his huge Russian red garlic. Eating a raw clove has helped me avert the flu many times.
Over 5,000 studies have shown that eating garlic can bring about health benefits. It naturally helps your body recover from a variety of illnesses and ailments.
Garlic doesn’t just boost your immune system. It actively kills a broad spectrum of viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi, and is more effective than prescription drugs. It contains a powerful antioxidant called Allicin that is released when you cut into the garlic.
Garlic contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6, as well as folate vitamin C and zinc, which all boost your immune system. The sulphur in garlic flushes toxins from your system. The garlic must be eaten or applied while it is raw in order to get the benefits, though!
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is well known for its immune boosting properties. However, many people don’t start taking it until they’re already feeling sick, but it may be more effective to use it as a prevention. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, people who don’t get enough Vitamin C are less able to fight off infections like the flu.
But what if you already have the flu?
Studies show that Vitamin C is more effective than pain relievers and decongestants. Researchers conducted a study to find out if taking a megadose of vitamin C would relieve cold and flu symptoms. The control group was made up of 463, 18-32 year-old students. When students in the control group reported cold or flu symptoms they were given decongestants and pain relievers. The experimental test group included 252 students, aged 18-30. When they reported cold or flu symptoms they were given 1,000 mg of vitamin C every hour for six hours and then three times a day after that.
The results were that the students in the test group, who took Vitamin C, had their symptoms reduced 85% more than the control group.
6. Vitamin D
Most outbreaks of influenza happen in the fall or winter, which is also when your vitamin D levels drop.
Dr. Gerry Schwalfenberg, MD. was alarmed by the side effects that his elderly patients were experiencing when they took antiviral drugs and so he turned his focus to vitamin D. Nursing home residents, in particular, can have very low levels of vitamin D, and when he started to give his patients vitamin D supplements he saw fewer cases of the flu.
“We now see very few patients in our clinics with the flu,” Dr. Schwalfenberg wrote. “In those patients who do have influenza, we have treated them with the vitamin D hammer, as coined by my colleague.”
The Vitamin D hammer is a 1-time megadose of vitamin D (50,000 IU) taken for 2 to 3 days. Patients who had this treatment saw their symptoms resolved in 48 to 72 hours. Dr. Schwalfenberg added, “We urgently need a study of this intervention. The cost of vitamin D is about a penny for 1000 IU, so this treatment costs less than a dollar.”
Vitamin D boosts your immune system, reduces inflammation and helps your body absorb calcium. It can be found in foods like fish, cheese, egg yolks, beef liver, and in vitamin D fortified dairy products in small amounts. But for adequate amounts, you need sunshine on skin or supplements. I always recommend getting a circulating vitamin D test so you know how much you should be supplementing with regularly. This test is the gold standard in vitamin D status testing as it tests your blood levels of 25(OH)D, which is the major form of vitamin D that circulates in your bloodstream! Your vitmain D needs may also change throughout the year depending on your sun exposure, so getting this test done in the fall and spring may also be something to consider.
Ginger has a zippy and festive flavor that goes well with many delicious cuisines, and it also offers many health benefits. It strengthens your immune systems and fights off infection with its anti-microbial properties. (It even kills the germs that cause bad breath!)
If you have the flu, make a lemon ginger tea by adding a slice of lemon and a slice of ginger root to a cup of hot water. Are you seeing the theme with liquids yet? 🙂
Clinical trials have shown that zinc can may reduce symptoms and help you heal faster – if it is taken within the first 24 hours of catching a cold. It has anti-viral properties and the mineral plays a role in forming the cells that make up your immune system. However, studies have mixed results on whether it is as effective for the flu.
It can be taken orally, as a lozenge or tablet. It can also be taken as a gel. Zinc should be eaten with food since it can cause nausea if taken on an empty stomach. While zinc can bolster an immune system, it shouldn’t be taken in high doses for longer than seven days because that can depress the immune system. Foods high in zinc are pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, chickpeas, cashews, and kefir.
When you’re feeling sick, eating a hot and steamy bowl of soup can be so comforting. But soup is so much more than just a comfort food. The steam from hot soup can open up congested sinuses by increasing the blood flow, which helps to ease congestion.
It’s also light and easy to digest. Most soups have some salt, which means that they will help keep you hydrated. And many soups, especially chicken soup, have anti-inflammatory properties. Soups that have fruits or vegetables may have vitamins and antioxidants that can help your immune system.
While soup won’t heal your flu, it is an excellent choice because it will make you feel better.
Echinacea is a popular flowering plant used to prevent illness and reduce the symptoms. However, clinical trials have been mixed on its effectiveness. A 2008 study looked at the effectiveness of Echinacea for cold and flu symptoms vs. a placebo. Results showed that Echinacea did not significantly alleviate or alter symptoms. While another study showed that Echinacea can reduce and alleviate inflammation caused by the flu.
So I’d like to hear from you on this one. Do you take Echinacea when you have the flu and if so, does it work for you? Please share your experience with me in the comments below.
For centuries, people have used elderberry to treat the flu and to boost their immune system.
In 1999, Norwegian researchers did conducated a study to find out whether it was more than just a folk remedy. Sixty patients were given either elderberry or a placebo and asked to record the severity of their symptoms. The patients who used elderberry felt better and reported symptom relief on average four days earlier than the placebo group!
12. Fresh Air
Many people believe that being exposed to cold weather will cause you to get the flu, but the truth is that people get it because they are cooped up inside. The flu is highly contagious and spread through pathogens that travel through the air. Inside germs and toxins remain concentrated. Get outside where there is plenty of fresh air and get some exercise and a little sun if you can.
Natural Remedies Can Bring Relief!
10-20% of Americans get the flu every year, but natural flu remedies can bring relief.
Armed with the list we covered today, I’m confident you’re prepared to take the steps to minimize your chances of getting the flu this season. And if you do happen to get the flu, these natural remedies will also help you combat it head on and get over it faster.
Do you have any tried and true natural remedies you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below!