It’s that time of year again where colds take hold and fevers run rampant. You can feel it in the sudden achiness of your body, the sudden chill, and the pallor of your complexion…flu season is coming!
As symptoms take over, you grope for more information on this year’s flu strain, what to watch out for, and its treatment. You may even look for this year’s best flu medicines, but I can tell you right now, save your money and your body. Those things aren’t effective anyway.
Maybe you should have looked into preventing the flu, but now it’s too late! You’re starting to feel run down and ragged and it’s happening fast. What’s one to do when the flu takes hold? Well, I’m here to tell you just that.
A Little More About The Flu
The flu, more properly known as good ol’ influenza, is an acute viral infection of the upper respiratory system. It can be difficult to tell the difference between a cold and the flu, but I assure you, they’re quite different.
A cold tends to come on much more gradually and have symptoms that are localized in the chest and head.
The flu, on the other hand, takes hold and spreads swiftly throughout the body producing in its wake a number of body-wide symptoms like fever, aches, and general fatigue.
While most people get over a cold in a few days, the flu can take a few weeks before its last symptoms disappear.
There are actually 3 different classifications of flu virus known as A, B, and C. The most common is flu type A (the Swine Flu and Bird Flu are in this category). This type of flu often occurs as epidemic outbreaks during the fall and winter season especially in school children and in the workplace.
It only takes about 48 hours after initial exposure for you to feel chills, fever, headache, muscular aches, and later a severe cough. The worst symptoms usually lessen after 2-3 days but may last much longer in those with asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions.
The flu virus can be very difficult to track in regards to its strain. The virus is constantly mutating making it difficult to build immunity. This is why flu immunizations are often completely useless because the virus only has to change ever so slightly for the flu vaccine to be ineffective.
The flu is also very contagious and can be spread via coughing, sneezing, or even touching infected surfaces.
As with the common cold, there is no cure for the flu, however, there are many natural alternatives at your disposal that have the potential to eradicate the virus as quickly as possible, especially in its early stages.
My Top 7 All Natural Flu Remedies That Get You Well Fast
When faced with potential exposure to the flu, it’s a good idea to begin strengthening your immune system so that it’s healthy and robust during the winter months. This will reduce the virus’s ability to take root in your body. Eating nutrient dense foods, getting meaningful rest, and keeping your hands clean this time of year will help immensely as well.
As mentioned above, the main symptoms and signs of the flu include:
• Aches and pains in the muscles and joints
• Dry throat and cough
• Fatigue and weakness
• Nausea and vomiting (in some cases)
• Sneezing and runny nose
• Sore throat
• Swollen glands in the neck and throat
The root causes of the flu include:
• Poor diet
• Run down immunity due to another illness
If you experience any of the above, you are more susceptible to catching the flu so keep these in mind during the winter months and take care of yourself!
How long is the flu incubation period?
24 hours to four days.
How long is the flu contagious?
Generally, the flu is contagious one day before your symptoms appear and up to 7 days after the first signs of flu.
How long does the flu last?
Once symptoms appear, the flu can last five to seven days.
What about stomach flu symptoms?
Symptoms of the stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, include:
- Watery diarrhea
- Abdominal cramping and pain
- Muscle aches
- Low-grade fever
- Nausea and or vomiting
How long does the stomach flu last?
The stomach flu can last one to three days with diarrhea symptoms lasting up to ten days. Vomiting usually only lasts one day.
Cold vs. Flu
You can read more about the difference between cold and flu here.
My Top 7 Home Remedies for Flu
1. Eating Light
You will often a very low appetite for the first 2-4 days after catching the flu. During this time, your body is focusing on healing and not on digesting. Listen to your body and allow it to fast as feels comfortable. When you do feel like eating, keep it light and easy on your digestive system like chicken soup, veggie soup, congee, etc. with plenty of fresh ginger, onion, and garlic if you’re able.
Eating citrus is also a great way to get in some natural Vitamin C which will stimulate white blood cell production and offer good hydration.
Once the acute stage has passed, you may move onto adding steamed veggies and whole grains to your diet. These are still light enough for your body to focus on healing but will offer a bit more sustenance.
2. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Especially in the first few days, your body will need the extra fluids to help flush your body. I recommend drinking spring water, green tea, herbal teas, broth, and fresh juice (avoid buying sugar laden processed juices).
Staying hydrated will help keep your respiratory tract from drying out and will also assist your body in detoxing during healing.
3. Take Flu Fighting Herbs
Echinacea stimulates the body to produce and strengthen white blood cells to help fight off the flu. This is what makes it a potent antiviral, especially in combination with goldenseal when there is mucus present. If you don’t have mucus, just use Echinacea.
For adults, take 2-4ml of Echinacea tincture a day.
One of the best herbs for flu is the noble elderberry. This tiny and unassuming berry is effective against 8 strains of flu virus and has the ability to cut the duration of the flu by half. This is because elderberry prevents the flu virus from replicating allowing you to get well in as little as 2-3 days instead of six.
If you currently have the flu, take 4TB of elderberry syrup daily for adults and 1TB daily for children (this is the children’s version). You can use elderberry as a tasty preventative as well by taking 1TB of elderberry syrup a day for adults and 1 tsp for children. Hands down, this is an excellent natural remedy for the flu virus and I use it as a flu preventative every year.
Don’t forget about elderflower tea either! The flowers of the elderberry tree have an affinity for breaking fevers.
If you’re unable to pick up anything else, elderberries are probably one of the best natural remedies for flu you can get!
Making a strong tea with fresh ginger is an excellent natural remedy for reducing chills, sore throat, and body aches. I have an amazing recipe that makes a really potent ginger tea that’s comforting and spicy. Whenever my husband is sick, he always asks for this tea.
Ginger is warming in nature and has anti-inflammatory properties that will help ease aches and pains. If you have a fever, it will help you sweat it out. If you have nausea or other tummy troubles, ginger will soothe the stomach and intestinal tract. This is why drinking Ginger Ale is a well-known remedy for flu!
Drink the fresh hot tea as often as you like during bouts of flu.
If you don’t care for ginger, try chamomile tea instead!
When you feel queasy or have general digestive upset during the flu, peppermint tea can help calm cramping and nausea. It’s also a comforting tea to drink when you have a fever or sore throat. You can gargle peppermint tea the ease sore throat and loosen germs!
This is probably my favorite all-natural flu remedy! Oregano oil has powerful antiviral, antibiotic, and immune stimulating effects. Not only is it great for fighting the flu, it will also help curb a few respiratory symptoms such as stuffy nose and a phlegmy cough. I’ve even used it for sore throat with great results.
You can either rub a few drops on the bottoms of your feet and throw on some thick socks or take it orally every few waking hours for the first few days. I often add it to my wellness shot recipe!
Yarrow Tincture or Tea
4. Homeopathy for The Flu
At the first signs of flu, taking homeopathic remedies can help ease discomfort. What’s nice about these natural medicines is they’re very specific and you can often find exactly what you need. Take a look at a few of the most popular homeopathic remedies for flu and see which descriptions match you best.
Make sure that you’re getting to 30c strength and take as directed.
This remedy is for the flu that comes on suddenly after exposure to dry, cold weather. You will have a dry scratchy throat and thin mucus in the sinuses. You will feel anxious, restless, have chills, and feel dehydrated. It is best to use aconitum napellus within the first 4 hours of initial symptoms.
Arcenicum Album is for those who feel exhausted, anxious, restless, has chills, and thirsts for small sips of warm water. They may also have diarrhea and vomiting.
Belladonna is for a high fever that comes on suddenly. The face is flushed and the body is hot to the touch yet the feet are cold. The pupils are dilated and they may have a throbbing headache.
Byronia is for those with the flu and aching joints that feel worse with even the most minimum movement. They may have a dry, hard cough and they thirst for copious amounts of cold fluid. They may be irritable and will not want to get out of bed.
Eupatorium Perfolatum is for those with a high fever and very achy joints and muscles. Thirsts for cold fluids.
Ferrum Phosphoricum is for those who have a fever but don’t feel or act otherwise sick. They may have a sore throat and will look flushed.
Gelsemium is for those who have chills and muscle aches and is drowsy and fatigues with a headache st the base of the head.
Mercurius Solobulis is for when the person is sensitive to hot and cold temperatures and exhibits profuse sweating. The tongue will have a thick coating and the breath will smell bad. Their throat will often be raw and sore.
Nux Vomica is for those with digestive upset such as cramping and nausea associated with the flu. Strong chills.
5. Essential Oils for the Flu
Using these powerful plant essences will help alleviate flu symptoms and encourage faster healing.
A few of my favorite essential oils to use for flu include:
• Eucalyptus radiata – opens the lungs and sinuses and cuts through mucus. Also helps with body aches.
• Lavender – instills relaxation and improves rest and sleep.
• Peppermint – soothes fever and stomach upset.
• Tea Tree – kills germs when diffused or used to in homemade cleansers to wipe surfaces.
6. Hydrogen Peroxide
Adding a few drops of food grade hydrogen peroxide (3%) to each ear is a great way to fight the flu virus. This can be used for both children and adults a few times per day or until the peroxide no longer bubbles when put into the ears. Using this method is a surprisingly effective way to treat respiratory infections as well!
7. Supplements for the Flu
Taking a few supplements can be beneficial when supporting your body during the flu. Here are a few of my top picks!
Vitamin C has the ability to stimulate the production of white blood cells which is always a good thing while you’re sick! I recommend taking 1,000-2,000mg of Vitamin C 3-4 times a day for adults. If diarrhea occurs, lower the dose.
Research has confirmed that catching a cold or the flu is often a direct result of Vitamin D deficiency. Having good levels of Vitamin D significantly strengthens your immune system against colds, influenza, and other respiratory infections. It is also an excellent antimicrobial agent.
Of course, the best source of Vitamin D is from the sun, but when that isn’t doable, I recommend taking 1,000-2,000 IU daily during flu season. You can up the amount to 5,000 IU during the flu to optimize immunity for adults.
N-acetylcysteine (aka NAC)
This supplement alone has been shown in one study in Italy to virtually eradicate all flu symptoms in those who were tested to currently have the flu virus. NAC is also a powerful antioxidant.
I couldn’t talk about the flu without mentioning zinc now, could I? Sucking on zinc lozenges while sick can help reduce the severity of symptoms and cut the duration of colds and flu.
What have been your favorite natural flu remedies? Please share them below!
Also, don’t forget to check out my other cold and flu articles below:
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