8 Natural Flu Fighting Remedies are sure to keep your immune system functioning optimally during flu season. Read on for my favorite natural remedies.
Last year, my sister came down with Influenza very suddenly. It may not have been so bad, but in the setting of asthma, she started to go downhill quickly. A 104 fever, wheezing, shortness of breath… it took her weeks to recover. Fortunately, the rest of my family stayed healthy during flu season.
I often see patients who ask me what I recommend to prevent Influenza aside from the yearly flu vaccine, and I think I’ve got some great natural flu fighting remedies!
Influenza can be a very serious, even deadly, virus. It’s particularly threatening for those age 65 and older and children age 5 and younger. The flu vaccine isn’t always the best defense either.
Influenza has a very sudden, acute onset. Most patients will tell me they feel like they’ve been hit by a truck. Body aches and myalgias, high fevers, and a deep, throaty cough predominate. For those who are elderly, very young, or immune-compromised, a diagnosis of Influenza A or B can turn the corner very quickly. We recommend starting Tamiflu, an antiviral drug, within 1-2 days of symptom onset. So be sure to get evaluated if you suspect Influenza!
It’s extremely important to optimize your health during the winter months when the flu is so readily transmitted. You’ll want all the immune sytsem support you can get! This includes a colorful diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, grass-fed and free range meat and eggs, nuts, seeds, and other healthy fats.
For some great immune-boosting recipes, check out…
- Golden Coconut Lentil Soup
- Paleo Curried Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
- Sweet Potato Korma Curry
- Sheet Pan Tandoori Chicken
- Paleo Miso “Ramen” Noodle Bowls
I also recommend incorporating supplements to boost your immune system, especially during the winter!
Here are my favorite 8 Natural Flu Fighting Remedies!
- Vitamin C. High doses of Vitamin C can give your immune system a good boost. In very high doses, Vitamin C can have a laxative effect, so start with 2 grams daily and back off a little if it gives you diarrhea.
- Vitamin D. Much of America is deficient in Vitamin D, so this supplement can really be taken year-round. Ask your healthcare provider to draw blood levels. Optimal Vitamin D levels are between 40-70 (depending on who you ask!). Vitamin D is extremely important for immune defense; when levels drop, you could be more susceptible to influenza. Vitamin D shouldn’t be taken in high doses for long periods of time, but during acute influenza, it’s fine to supplement with 10,000 IU or higher. I generally recommend this Vitamin D + K2 liquid as it’s more readily absorbed.
- Echinacea. Echinacea does have antiviral properties and can inhibit receptor binding of the influenza virus. It can help interfere with influenza’s entry into the cells, limiting its replication.
- Elderberry. Multiple studies have proven that Elderberry extract is an effective antiviral supplement and can actually inhibit replication of the human influenza virus. It’s also been shown to cut the duration of symptoms in half! This supplement is one of the best during flu season, and I’d recommend beginning it at symptom onset. It’s also perfect for prophylaxis for the rest of your household.
- Probiotics. A healthy gut microbiome is essentialstudy in 2015, and not just for digestion. If you’ve been around here for a while, then you know how much I’m always talking about good gut balance. A showed that Bifidobacterium probiotic strains in particular were effective for fending off influenza. A healthy gut microflora boosts the immune system, too, packing a double punch. I recommend high-dose probiotics, 25 billion colonies and higher, twice a day during flu season.
- Garlic. Garlic has been used an antimicrobial for thousands of years. Not only is it an antibacterial agent, but it’s also antiviral and provides immune system support. It’s antiviral effects are due to allicin, and it tends to be more potent raw vs. cooked. Garlic can be found in capsule form and used both prophylactically and at high doses of symptom onset.
- Ginger. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties make it a staple during flu season. It’s active compound is allicin, the same as garlic. Allicin has been reported to have activity against influenza. Try it in this ginger turmeric tonic!
- Zinc. Although the evidence for zinc isn’t as strong, it’s definitely not going to hurt to take it. Zinc can help support the immune system, so it’s a good one to have on hand. Zinc comes in lozenges which seem to be more effective.
pin these natural flu fighting remedies for later!
So there you have it: 8 natural flu fighting remedies to get you through the rest of the winter. While we tend to do more cooking with things like garlic and ginger, the rest of these supplements are always in our cupboards!
First-line defense against the flu includes good hand hygiene, getting adequate amounts of sleep, reducing stress, and avoiding sugar and alcohol. All of these things have an impact on the immune system. As above, eat a colorful diet, avoiding sugar, alcohol, and dairy. Be sure to stay well-hydrated with water, tea, and bone broth.
What are your favorite natural flu fighting remedies?