12 Flu Natural Remedies

This article was originally published by our friend Dr. Axe

People with a depressed immune system or nutrient deficiencies may be more prone to catching the flu or a cold. Stress, lack of sleep and exposure to toxins can worsen flu symptoms.

According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on December 8, 2017, flu activity has been increasing in the U.S. since early November. Based on data from October 1 to November 25, 2017, researchers found Influenza A viruses predominated in all age groups and Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Oklahoma all had widespread flu activity. (1)

Luckily, there are flu natural remedies that can help.


What Is the Flu?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. These viruses spread through the air from person to person.

Download 12 natural flu remedies here.

Signs and symptoms of flu may include:

  • fever
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Although anyone can get the flu, young children, pregnant women and adults 65 years old and older are at greater risk of developing serious flu-related complications. (2)


Conventional Treatment

Conventional flu treatment includes antiviral drugs and vaccines. As I’m sure you know, I do not recommend you get a flu shot as a preventative measure for the flu. These vaccines can cause side effects and often contain dangerous chemicals and preservatives. On rare occasions, they may even cause severe allergic reactions.

The CDC recently made some additions to the 2007 guidelines on nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to protect oneself and others against the flu. Some of the recommendations for personal NPIs include: (3)

  • Staying home when you’re sick.
  • Staying home if you’ve been exposed to a sick family or household member.
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer.
  • Covering your nose or mouth with a mask or cloth if you are sick and have to be around others at a community gathering of people.

Implementing these behaviors can help stop the spread of flu. You may be wondering how to get rid of the flu in 24 hours without medicine. If you or a loved one already has the flu, read on below for some home flu natural remedies you can use to find relief from your symptoms.


12 Flu Natural Remedies

So, how do you get rid of the flu naturally? Home remedies for the flu include vitamins C and D, herbal supplements, essential oils, probiotics and eating healthy. Try these flu natural remedies to help relieve your symptoms.

1. Vitamin C (1,000 mg 3–4x daily)

  • Vitamin C helps with immune system function and boosts white blood cells.
  • Take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily to ward off a cold or the flu and up to 4,000 milligrams daily when you are experiencing symptoms.
  • Eat whole fruits and vegetables.

2. Vitamin D (2,000 IU daily)

  • Vitamin D is produced in the body by sunlight and regulates the expression of over 2,000 genes, including those of the immune system. Recent research shows that low vitamin D levels are linked to higher rates of cold, flu and respiratory infections. (4)
  • Many physicians believe that current recommended daily amounts of vitamin D are far too low, and that 2,000 rather than 200-400 units per day is a better choice.
  • To treat cold or flu, take 2,000 units per kilogram of body weight once a day for three days.
  • You can also order home testing kits to test your vitamin D levels.

3. Echinacea (1,000 mg 2–3x daily)

  • This herb can help your body fight off infections, but it is best to take it at the first sign of illness.
  • Researchers have proven it to be as effective, if not more so, as oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) at fighting respiratory infections. (5)
  • Echinacea acts as an anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce bronchial symptoms of cold and flu.
  • Echinacea directly attacks yeast and other kinds of fungus.
  • Different preparations have different concentrations of echinacea. Some common preparations and dosages include:
  • Tablets containing 6.78 milligrams of echinacea extract, two tablets three times a day.
  • 900 milligrams of Echinacea root tincture daily.
  • Five to six cups of echinacea tea on the first day of symptoms, and then 1 cup a day thereafter.

4. Elderberry (10 mL daily)

  • It is believed that this herb can deactivate the flu virus and naturally boost immunity.
  • The flowers and berries of elderberry are said to boost the immune system, treat flu and relieve sinus pain.
  • Elderberry does seem to attack flu viruses and reduce bronchial inflammation. A preliminary study found that it reduced severity and length of flu symptoms when given at the first signs of symptoms.

5. Oregano Oil (500 mg 2x daily)

6. Zinc (50–100 mg daily)

  • Zinc supports immune function and has an antiviral effect. (6) It works best when taken at the first sign of illness.
  • Zinc may lessen the symptoms of the cold virus but excessive amounts aren’t good for you. Zinc pills and sprays do not seem to be effective.
  • Take 50–100 milligrams of zinc daily to ward off or treat cold and flu symptoms.

7. Brewer’s Yeast

  • Brewer’s yeast contains B vitamins, chromium and protein. It is used for cold, flu and other respiratory tract infections.
  • Brewer’s yeast stimulates intestinal enzymes to help relieve diarrhea, fights bacteria in the intestines and improves immune response to viruses that infect the lungs.
  • Research has found that Brewer’s yeast reduces the risk of getting a cold or the flu and helps symptoms dissipate more quickly.

8. Essential Oils for Flu

  • Rubbing peppermint and frankincense essential oil into the neck and bottoms of the feet can naturally support the immune system.  Also, clove oil can protect the body against infection and can speed recovery from the flu.

9. Chiropractic Care for Flu Prevention

  • During the 1918 flu epidemic, flu patients that received chiropractic care survived much more readily than those that didn’t. (7)
  • A 2011 study showed some promise for chiropractic care and its potential to help boost the immune system. (8)

10. Probiotics 

  • Restoring the beneficial bacteria in your gut can help boost your immune system considerably.

11. Get Fresh Air

  • Indoor winter environments can be a source of concentrated toxins and germs. The dry air we inhale as we heat our homes during the winter makes airways more reactive and sensitive to viruses.
  • An added bonus to time spent outdoors in the winter is the extra bit of sunlight you receive.

12. Top Foods for Flu Recovery:

  • Light, easy to digest foods: Include soups with bone broth, cooked vegetables or herbal teas to help with digestion. Don’t force yourself to eat.
  • Water: Adequate hydration is the key to flushing out the virus from your system. Fluid helps your body to flush bacteria and viruses from your system. Drink approximately half your body weight in ounces daily of either spring water or reverse osmosis filtered water. Green and black teas are potent immune system-boosters and antioxidants. Try to drink at least 8 ounces every two hours.
  • Hot water with lemon, honey, and cinnamon:  Honey and cinnamon helps prevent mucus buildup and keeps you hydrated.
  • Ginger: Make a ginger tea and add raw honey.
  • Garlic and onions: Both of these vegetable help boost immune function.


7 Real Life Steps to Stay Cold & Flu-Free All Year Long

Step 1: Eat Real Food

Now if you’ve been a regular reader on my site, you’ll know what I mean by “real” food. But for those of you who don’t, let me explain. Real food is the food that is most natural, found in nature with the least amount of processing involved before it reaches your table.

This is the food that is provided by our Maker to keep us healthy and alive without debilitating diseases. Foods like apples, carrots, raw nuts and seeds. Foods that haven’t been loaded with hormones, pesticides and other unnatural chemicals. These are the foods you can grow (or raise) in your own backyard in an organic garden or by raising your own chickens for example.

The other foods that many Americans consume on a daily basis are what I like to call “fake” foods. These are the foods you’ll find on shelf after shelf, aisle after aisle at the grocery store. Foods that have been highly processed, modified and so transformed from their original state that they hardly resemble the original food at all.

Think Doritos, soda, fruit snacks, microwave meals, etc.

Eating a variety of real foods provides your body with all the nutrients it needs to function and stay healthy. This should be your first food choice on a daily basis.

Step 2: Exercise

Although when you think of preventing a cold you don’t necessarily think “I’d better exercise if I don’t want to get sick,” this is one of the best ways to improve your overall health and stay healthy during cold and flu season.

According to researcher Michael Flynn who studies the impact of exercise on the immune system at Purdue University, 30 minutes of exercise, three or four times a week, is the best way to boost your immune system. Any more will actually begin to have the reverse effect. (9)

Flynn explained that one study found running 10 miles a week boosted the immune system but raise that to 20 miles a week and you increase the risk for infections.

This is why I recommend burst training as opposed to long distance cardiovascular exercise.

Step 3: Get Plenty of Sleep

Now this old wives’ tale still holds true today. When you’re sick you need to get plenty of rest, but you can’t really “catch up” on sleep or make up for weeks or months of too little sleep.

Getting enough sleep on a regular basis is key to maintaining good health. Studies show that lack of sleep is associated with health problems and the inability to lose weight. According to the Harvard Women’s Health Watch, one adverse effect of not getting enough sleep is a compromised immune system. (10)

Step 4: Enjoy Life!

There’s nothing like stress to bring on all sorts of physical ailments including colds and flus. According to Laurel Mellin, associate clinical professor at the University of California in San Francisco and founder of  EBT Inc., 80 percent of health problems are stress-induced.

Mellin has developed a new approach for dealing with stress. It involves using the tools already in place in your brain to move through stress and quickly get to feeling peaceful and balanced. (11)

One of the best ways to beat stress is to balance your life with fun. Remember the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? Well, no play will make Jack a miserable and dull boy. Take time to enjoy life and build joy everyday. Whether it’s taking time to listen to your favorite music, or going to the movies or theater, or playing sports with your family or friends, it’s vital to include fun in your day — especially when it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

Step 5: Get Plenty of Vitamin D

More and more is being revealed lately about the vast health benefits of vitamin D. Previously known to impact bone health, vitamin D deficiency is now implicated in many health issues.

According to long time vitamin D researcher, Dr. Michael Holick, the best way to obtain vitamin D is through safe sun exposure. That’s right, he advises you to get sun – but safely. In his book entitled “The Vitamin D Solution,” Holick says that a lack of vitamin D (that many Westerners are unknowingly suffering from) can wreak havoc on the body, including the immune system.

To beat a cold or flu make sure you get plenty of safe sun exposure on a regular basis. If you live somewhere that only gets sun seasonally it’s a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement until your levels are adequate enough to take you through these sunless seasons.

Step 6: Take a Whole Food Multivitamin

Taking a multi-vitamin is a great step towards protecting your health. But not all multi-vitamins are good for you. It’s vital that you choose a whole food multi-vitamin, not a synthetic one. Whole food multi-vitamins are as close to the real source of the vitamins and minerals that you can get. In fact, your body will be better able to recognize it, digest it and absorb the nutrients in it. Be sure the multi-vitamin you choose has the ISO certification on it. This ensures that you are getting a high-quality vitamin.

Step 7: Avoid Sugar

Sugar is one of the worst things to consume, especially if you’re trying to stay healthy — and who isn’t? Sugars weaken the immune system and help bacteria to grow. Avoiding sugars is key to staying healthy, particularly when you’re under stress or in the middle of cold and flu season.

There are great, all-natural sweeteners on the market so you don’t have to go without. Try stevia or raw honey in moderation. (And avoid artificial sweeteners — they’re fake foods!) Be sure to check labels of the foods you’re eating and avoid sugars here too.

No one wants to come down with a cold or the flu anytime. When you take the above seven steps to stay healthy, you’ll not only beat colds and the flu, you’ll also be protecting your body from other more serious chronic diseases that could really compromise your health down the road.


Precautions

If you  or a loved one experience complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, or have a high fever that won’t go down, see your healthcare provider right away. If you catch the flu and you have a chronic condition, such as asthma, or you are pregnant, see your doctor.


Key Points

  • The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.
  • Conventional flu treatment includes antiviral drugs and vaccines.
  • Try  flu natural remedies to help relieve your symptoms.
  • See your doctor right away if you get the flu and you have a chronic medical condition or you are pregnant. Also, get medical care if you experience flu complications, such as pneumonia.


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Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine and operates one of the world's largest natural health websites: www.DrAxe.com. He is the author of the groundbreaking health book Eat Dirt, which uncovers the hidden causes and cures of leaky gut syndrome. Dr. Axe is an expert in digestive health, functional medicine, natural remedies and dietary strategies for healing. He has been featured on many television shows, including the Dr. Oz Show, CBS and NBC, and has his own Eat Dirt program running on select PBS TV stations. Dr. Axe founded one of the largest functional medicine clinics in the world, in Nashville, TN, and has been a physician for many professional athletes. DrAxe.com is one of the most visited websites worldwide for healthy recipes, herbal remedies, nutrition and fitness advice, essential oils, and natural supplements.