So, you did everything you could and still came down with the flu. It happens to us all. Including me, I was sidelined last year and it was a tough go. These natural remedies cushioned the blow reduced how much over the counter medication I took.
NSAID medications like advil and naproxen and the cold formulas they come in, can further damage your gut lining that is already struggling with the flu so it’s best to use them sparingly. Furthermore, NSAIDs during the flu may increase heart attack risk. If you take anything for pain and fever reduction during the flu, opt for a product that contains acetaminophen (Tylenol) as it is not an NSAID. Acetaminophen can still damage your gut lining so it is still important to use only when necessary.
Medications to treat symptoms are easy to find and sometimes necessary but they don’t actually help your body fight the flu virus. You feel better when you take them because they block the inflammation that the immune system is using to attack the virus. Luckily, nature is a wonder when it comes to flu remedies. A few basics first!
Flu: sudden onset, very contagious, body aches, chills, profound fatigue, loss of appetite, moderate to high fever, headache, cough, gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting), light sensitivity, may have sinus congestion, sneezing or sore throat. Contagious for 5-7 days after first symptoms – please stay home for everyone’s sake!
Cold: gradual onset, nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, mild fever if any, headache from sinus congestion
Natural Remedies that Fight Flu
The flu often means your gut lining is disrupted and inflamed. This makes it difficult to want to eat. These recommendations are usually tolerable even when you’re feeling at your worst.
Chicken bone broth:
Homemade broth is a completely different product than what you buy in cartons. See my easy chicken broth recipe and benefits of bone broth post for details. I don’t recommend beef broth with a flu as it can be more difficult to tolerate, even in healthy people.
These plants all help reduce inflammation that drives flu symptoms. They are also able to kill viruses and bacteria. Bacterial infections can set in during a viral infection and cause some serious health issues. See this recipe for ginger orange juice that I make when I have the flu. You can also add fresh turmeric to it! You can also find throat formula teas in your grocery stores that often contain licorice. If you have the ingredients on hand, these can also be boiled to make a tea.
Why didn’t I mention echinacea or Elderberry for flu? These herbs are best for prevention at first sign of a cold or flu and in some cases can aggravate an already strong immune response and could make you feel worse. Zinc is also known to improve immune function but can be quite nauseating on an empty or irritated stomach so it’s a tough one to get in once you already have the flu. Vitamin C is more helpful before an illness as well and I don’t recommend it during a flu because it can increase diarrhea and GI discomfort.
Vitamin D on par with flu shot:
Those with severely low vitamin D halve their risk of acute respiratory infection (flu/cold) with regular supplementation. Even if you have adequate levels of vitamin D, supplementation reduced risk by 10%. This benefit impact is similar to having a flu shot.
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Yao-Chun Wen et al. Acute Respiratory Infection and Use of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs on Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction: A Nationwide Case-Crossover Study. Journal of Infectious Diseases, February 2017 DOI: 10.1093/infdis/jiw603
University of Queen Mary London. “Vitamin D protects against colds and flu, finds major global study.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170216110002.htm>.
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Chang JS, Wang KC, Yeh CF, Shieh DE, Chiang LC. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Jan 9;145(1):146-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.10.043. Epub 2012 Nov 1.
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