The flu is a virus that affects people all around the globe from America to Australia and beyond. The typical peak flu season lasts anywhere from November through March, so it is crucial to optimize your health during this time. Getting the flu is no fun, and the sudden onset of this virus will hit you like a truck. Predominately, you’ll experience chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, and fatigue, which can last up to a week. There is no cure for the flu, but there are some natural remedies that can help soothe symptoms or shorten your time with symptoms. Here are ten natural flu-fighting remedies to give your immune system all the support it can get:
1) Raw Garlic
Garlic has been used for thousands of years across different cultures for its antiviral and immune system support. Ancient Egyptians, in particular, were known to use garlic as food flavoring as well as for traditional medicine. There is also some evidence that during the earliest Olympics in Greece, athletes were fed garlic to increase stamina1. Its antimicrobial effects are due to garlic’s composition of allicin that tends to be more potent when eaten raw versus cooked. Try mincing a raw garlic clove into your salad, sandwich, or salad dressing.
2) Lots of Water
Usually, the last thing you want to do during sickness or the winter months is to drink water. However, hydration during this time will be essential for your health. Keep a cup or bottle of water nearby to sip on during the day to support the body’s natural healing process. This seemingly basic tip is significant for the flu.
Low sugar diets have been shown to beneficial to the skin, especially those that are acne-prone. The people of Greece generally eat the “Mediterranean diet” which sticks to nutrient-dense, fresh, seasonal, real foods. Make a conscious effort to reduce refined sugary foods and aim for whole fruits and vegetables.
4) Vitamin D
This vitamin is often deficient in most people, even though it is essential for immune defense. Studies show that one is more susceptible to the flu when vitamin D levels drop3. Foods rich in vitamin D include fatty fish, fortified food products, cheese, or egg yolks. If these foods can’t be eaten regularly, try taking a low-dose vitamin D supplement throughout the year to support your health and wellness.
Elderberry has been used by cultures for centuries to treat the flu for its antiviral activity. Research studies have also found that elderberry extract is effective in cutting the duration of flu symptoms in half. Meaning that it is an efficient and safe natural flu treatment4! Right when signs of the flu start appearing, try taking an elderberry supplement to get ahead of it. Elderberry syrup can also be made at home for a natural and cost-efficient option.
It is incredibly vital to get more sleep when you have the flu. To help the body fight off the flu virus, sleeping is needed for the immune system’s defense. Cancel any plans or work to make sleep a priority. You’ll get better quickly so you can get back into your usual routine!
7) Bone Broth
Try making a warm cup of chicken or beef bone broth to help loosen congestion as well as stay hydrated. Bone broth is also naturally high in protein and minerals that can replenish your body during the flu. Protein is also essential for rebuilding immune cells. Stock up on store-bought varieties or try making your bone broth at home by boiling used chicken or beef bones.
The nutrient zinc is essential for the body to make white blood cells that fight viruses. Research also shows that zinc eases flu symptoms and slows down how fast the flu virus multiplies. Zinc is found in red meat, shellfish, beans, legumes, seeds, dairy, and eggs. Or try taking a multivitamin daily that includes zinc for its health benefits.
9) Herbal Tea
A warm cup of tea will not only feel good on a sore throat, but the herbs in tea have antiviral properties that are effective in fighting some kinds of flu viruses. Some of the best flu-fighting herbal teas are green or black tea, turmeric, ginger, olive leaf, lemon balm, or a combination of these herbs.
10) Face Steam
Inhaling steam from a warm pot of water can help soothe symptoms of the flu. Steam loosens mucus congestion in the nose, sinuses, throat, and lungs. Russia is a country that has been using soothing steam for centuries to ward off illness. Try adding a few drops of essential oil in hot water to add more antioxidant benefits to your steam.
- Bhandari, P. (2012). Garlic (Allium sativum L.): A review of potential therapeutic applications. International Journal of Green Pharmacy, 6(2), 118. doi: 10.4103/0973-8258.102826
- Leyer, G. J., Li, S., Mubasher, M. E., Reifer, C., & Ouwehand, A. C. (2009). Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children. Pediatrics, 124(2). doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-2666
- Cannell, J. J., Vieth, R., Umhau, J. C., Holick, M. F., Grant, W. B., Madronich, S., … Giovannucci, E. (2006). Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiology and infection, 134(6), 1129–1140. doi:10.1017/S0950268806007175
- Zakay-Rones, Z., Thom, E., Wollan, T., & Wadstein, J. (2004). Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of Influenza A and B Virus Infections. Journal of International Medical Research, 32(2), 132–140. doi: 10.1177/147323000403200205