Preventing the Flu the Natural Way
It seems like each year's flu strain is worse than the last. We all know the basics: wash your hands regularly, get your flu shot if you’re so inclined, stay away from doctor’s offices and busy areas. But what happens when the flu shot runs out or isn’t effective? Many are turning to natural remedies and preventions. Some work, others don’t. Here are my favorite, time-tested methods of staying up and about during flu season.
Thieves' Oil for Flu Prevention and Treatment
What’s in it: Clove, lemon, cinnamon, rosemary, and Eucalyptus.
I like to think Thieves’ Oil is thusly named for its tendency to steal money away from the pharmaceutical industry once people realize how effective it is at combating illness. Not only is it safe to use for young and old alike, but Thieves’ is responsive to mutating strains of the flu, as opposed to the flu vaccine, which is generally not. It can be applied inside the cheek, taken orally with water, on the chest to soothe cough and congestion, or even rubbed into the soles of the feet for flu and cold prevention. This oil is not only effective for preventing and treating flu symptoms, but a myriad of other ailments including headache, toothache, laryngitis and sore throat among others.
Honey is good for you in general, considering that it’s chock full of natural antioxidants and even has antibacterial properties. Those antioxidants will help your immune system stay strong and fight off the flue. Additionally, a spoonful of locally produced honey can prevent allergies by introducing your body’s immune system to the local pollen so that it can build up its defenses. A spoonful of local honey is essentially like giving your antibodies the enemy’s battle plan. It gives them a fighting advantage.
Not only is this stuff delicious on pancakes and homemade crepes, but it can be a powerful flu fighting agent to boot. With loads of vitamins A, B and C, elderberries load up your body’s immune system and help you get back on your feet sooner if and when you do get sick. Sambucol is the primary flu fighting agent within elderberries, but it should be noted that some studies have indicated this extract may actually CAUSE flu in otherwise healthy individuals. Thus, you should only try elderberry syrup once you start exhibiting flu symptoms and NOT before.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These can be found in fish and smelly vitamin capsules, depending on your preference. Omega 3 is not only great for your brain, it devours bacteria within the body, meaning that your immune system has someone to share the burden with. Not only that but it’s proven to aid respiratory function. By far the most lethal component of the flu is pneumonia, so make sure to keep a healthy dosage of Omega 3 to keep your lungs healthy this flu season.
The conventional wisdom to avoid alcohol during flu season is misconstrued when it comes to red wine. Unlike other forms of alcohol, red wine is rich in antioxidants, polyphenols and reservatrol. Reservatrol resists inflammation, polyphenols fight bacterial infections and antioxidants boost the immune system overall. Red wine is also known to be a stress reliever when consumed in moderation, and stress is known for weakening the immune system. Consider unwinding in the evening with a glass of Merlot (assuming you're over 21, of course!). Not only is it relaxing, it could save you a trip to the doctor! Researchers in a French study also found that the reservatrol in red wine prevented the flu from mutating in mice subjects.
Vitamin D boosts the immune system and optimizes respiratory function. Like Omega 3 it can be found in fish, but also in sunlight. Don’t just grab a supplement off the shelf, though. Too much Vitamin D can also cause trouble, so get your levels checked if you think you might be deficient and consult with your doctor about a supplement amount that’s right for your body. Also, limit sun exposure and remember that wearing sunscreen doesn’t impact your body’s ability to benefit from Vitamin D. A tall glass of milk is also a great way to get your daily value of this essential vitamin!
It’s a fancy way of saying, “Eat your vegetables!” If it’s green (and doesn’t come from a box), chances are it’s full of the antioxidants and vitamins you need to not only prevent the flu but get over it faster if you do get sick. Onions, broccoli, carrots, peppers and squash are your best bets for the most nutrients. Don’t forget vitamin and antioxidant rich fruits like blueberries, blackberries, oranges and pomegranates. Flu season is the perfect time to get out the old blender and make those smoothies you had planned. It’s an easy, tasty way to load up on the ammo your body needs to stay healthy when everyone around you is getting sick.
Do you have any other natural remedies and preventative tips? Share them in the comments!