Wouldn’t it be great to avoid the flu, and treat it when it strikes, without having to get a shot or visit a doctor? Not to bash the “flu shot,” but there is increasing evidence that it doesn’t work for huge sections of the population. That’s where herbs, vitamins and flu-fighting foods come in handy.
Ever since a flu epidemic struck Italy in 1743 and killed thousands of people, the word “influenza,” which means “influence” or “a visit from a bad thing,” has become a part of the international lexicon. In fact, in modern English we still use a form of this term when we say things like, “I was visited by a terrible illness.”
History aside, how is it that modern people can avoid and treat the common, pernicious flu bug with natural things like garlic, vitamins and even specific activities (regular sleep and exercise, for example)?
Figure 1: Mug shot of a very dangerous criminal, the flu virus
Figure 2: The most common symptoms of the flu
Herbs, Vitamins, Foods, and Activities That Fight the Flu
Fortunately, there are hundreds of natural remedies, vitamins and lifestyle changes that can help prevent or even treat the flu virus. Note that nutritional gaps and a weak immune system can contribute a lot to a person’s susceptibility for the virus. Things like poor sleep habits, high stress levels, and exposure to chemicals can make the body weak and vulnerable.
Here are some of the most effective weapons in the natural battle against this dangerous and despised virus, which is medically described as a highly-contagious illness of the human respiratory system. Because it’s respiratory-related, the virus can travel from person to person in the air, making it extremely dangerous in large, physically dense population centers:
Echinacea: The most commonly used herbal defense for the flu is the common herb known as Echinacea. It helps the body ward off many different infectious illnesses, but is most effective when taken as soon as flu symptoms arrive. Waiting even a day or two greatly cuts down on the herb’s power to fight influenza symptoms. Echinacea has been shown in lab studies to be an effective remedy for a wide range of air-passage infections. Because it can help destroy fungus and acts as a general anti-inflammatory agent, Echinacea can be highly effective for flu sufferers.
Most people who use Echinacea for flu treatment take about 40 milligrams of extract in tablet form each day. This is typically broken up in several doses that equal a grand total of 40 milligrams for the whole day’s allotment.
There are high-quality teas that contain Echinacea extract. Drinking several cups of the tea on the first day symptoms appear can help diminish the strength of the virus. After that first day, only consume a single cup of Echinacea tea per day thereafter.
Vitamins C and D: This age-old treatment was in use even before medical science knew what a “vitamin” was. There is evidence that people in the Middle Ages treated a variety of illnesses with foods that contained high doses of vitamin C and D. Perhaps they were linking cause and effect and happened to hit on the remedy, but no one is sure. The fact remains that these two vitamins can help boost the human immune system quickly and effectively in nearly everyone.
Taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C every day is one method for warding off the common flu bug. If you develop symptoms, a higher dose, about 4,000 milligrams per day, can work to ease the pain and perhaps lessen the length of the infection. Of course, consuming vegetables and fruits is a smart way to get natural doses of the vitamins, but it’s also effective to take them in tablet form.
Sunlight helps the body produce vitamin D naturally, but most experts say that we need about 2,000 milligrams per day to effectively ward off viruses like the flu.
Elderberry: Not as well-known as its “cousin,” Echinacea, elderberry has been shown to be a potent flu-fighter, with the apparent ability to increase immune-system strength and weaken the flu virus directly. If you suffer from bronchial swelling and inflammation as a result of the flu, elderberry can relieve these symptoms quickly. There is also evidence that the herb can shorter the life of the virus. That’s good news for anyone hit by bronchial pain and swelling.
Brewer’s yeast: Because it contains high doses of the B-vitamins, as well as a decent amount of protein, brewer’s yeast has been used for more than 100 years in the fight against all sorts of respiratory infections like the flu, the common cold, and bronchitis.
One of the wonderful powers of brewer’s yeast is its ability to boost intestinal strength and help alleviate common diarrhea, one of the more annoying flu symptoms. Because the natural yeast also can destroy “bad” bacteria in the stomach and intestines, it is one of the go-to natural remedies for many flu sufferers. Early settlers in the U.S. colonies were known to use brewer’s yeast as a medicine to treat a number of debilitating viruses and other diseases.
Foods that fight the flu: Simple water is one of the best ways to lessen flu symptoms for most sufferers because it helps “flush” dangerous viruses and toxins from the body. Some evidence shows that RO (reverse osmosis) or spring water works best. For “dosage,” you can use a simple formula. Multiply your body weight in pounds by one-half. Drink that number of ounces of water daily while you have the flu.
For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your magic number is 75. So, drink 75 ounces of water, or more if you feel the need, each day and watch the flu virus disappear faster than it would if you weren’t so hydrated.
Cinnamon, lemon, honey, and ginger: Mixing any or all of these common herbs and foods with hot water can do wonders for flu symptoms. The cinnamon and honey act to cut down on the buildup of mucous and maintain proper hydration levels.
Onions with garlic: Yes, “yuck” is the common response here, but if you’re suffering, yuckiness is a small price to pay for comfort. These two smelly foods are strong immune system aids and can also (obviously) help clear the sinuses
Foods that digest easily: When you have the flu, be sure to consume things like cooked vegetables, soups and different kinds of broth to help the body’s digestive system get everything through without too much trouble. There’s no reason to force yourself if you don’t feel hungry, but if your appetite is still in place, opt for foods that are easy on the digestive tract.
Clove, frankincense, and peppermint oils: These natural, essential oils can simply be rubbed into the skin, gently of course, to help support the immune system. The clove oil has the ability to lessen the length and severity of a bout of the flu, while also helping to ward off future infections when used regularly. Most users who prefer essential oils for flu treatment choose to rub them directly into the bottoms of the feet and the back of the neck.
Fast Flu Facts to Know and Share
Know your flu stats to better fight against this airborne evil-doer. Here are some of the latest (as of 2017) stats about the bug that has been bugging humanity for centuries:
To Your (Natural) Health
You don’t need to be a health expert to decrease your chances of getting the flu. And if you are unlucky, and end up contracting the virus, there’s still plenty you can do without having to take over-the-counter drugs. Always be sure to discuss any illness with your doctor and make sure that whatever remedies you try are safe for you.
The information in this report is intended only for educational purposes and should not be taken as “medical advice.” Speak with a healthcare professional if you are ill or need any type of treatment for the flu.
Let us know, in the comment section below or on our Facebook page, how you deal with the flu. Do you use natural methods not listed above? If so, share your knowledge with others so we can improve the arsenal. Take care and do your best to avoid getting the flu this winter.