Every year, around 8% of people in the US get the flu. The numbers may be even higher for people who do not have any symptoms.
Children are more likely to catch the flu virus than adults, but people with weakened immune systems or deficiencies in nutrients may also be more susceptible to the virus. If you’re already feeling sick with the flu, stress, lack of sleep, and exposure to toxins can make your symptoms worse.
There are several flu natural remedies that can help improve your immune system function or relieve symptoms.
What Is the Flu?
The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus that can be passed around easily. These viruses can be spread through the air from person to person.
Signs and symptoms of flu may include:
- Runny nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Sore throat
Young children seem to be affected by the flu virus the most, according to CDC reports. Pregnant women and adults who are 65 years old or older are more likely to develop serious complications from the flu because their immune systems are not as strong.
Flu vs. the Common Cold
The flu and the common cold are similar in that they are both respiratory illnesses; however, they are caused by different viruses. The flu and a cold can sometimes be difficult to tell apart, but usually, the symptoms of influenza are much more severe.
When you have a cold, you may have mild symptoms like a runny nose and congestion. The flu is more likely than the common cold to cause body aches, fever, and headache. It may also cause serious health problems, like bacterial infections, pneumonia, and even hospitalization.
10 Natural Remedies
How can you get rid of the flu naturally? Home remedies for the flu include vitamins C and D, herbal supplements, essential oils, probiotics, and eating healthy. Here are some flu remedies that may help relieve your symptoms.
- Vitamin C (1,000 mg 3–4x daily)
Vitamin C is important for immune function and helps to increase the number of white blood cells. Research has shown that vitamin C can shorten the duration of colds and can decrease the number of colds in people who are physically active.
You should take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily to prevent a cold or the flu, and up to 4,000 milligrams daily when you are experiencing symptoms. Eating whole fruits and vegetables is the best way to get dietary vitamin C.
- Vitamin D3 (2,000 IU daily)
Vitamin D is produced in the body by exposure to sunlight. It regulates the expression of more than 2,000 genes, including those involved in the immune response. Vitamin D deficiency is a big problem, with up to 90 percent of people not getting enough. A recent study found that people with lower levels of vitamin D are more likely to get colds, the flu, and other respiratory infections.
Many physicians believe that the current recommended daily amounts of vitamin D are insufficient, and that a daily intake of 2000 units would be a more suitable amount. You can also get home testing kits to test your vitamin D levels.
- Echinacea (1,000 mg 2–3x daily)
If you start to feel ill, this herb can help fight off infections.
An extract of echinacea was tested in a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial in 2013 to see if it was effective in treating the common cold. It was found that echinacea was effective in treating respiratory tract infections in both the short and long run. Additionally, echinacea didn’t cause the same resistance as a popular flu medication, oseltamivir, often does when treating this illness.
A study conducted in 2000 showed that drinking echinacea tea five to six times a day when cold or flu symptoms started, and reducing the number of cups to one over a five day period, was successful in relieving symptoms.
The herb echinacea has anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for reducing bronchial symptoms of colds and flu. It directly attacks yeast and other kinds of fungi.
Different preparations have different concentrations of echinacea. Some common preparations and dosages include:
- Tablets containing 6.78 milligrams of echinacea extract, two tablets three times a day
- 900 milligrams of echinacea root tincture daily
- Five to six cups of echinacea tea on the first day of symptoms, and then 1 cup a day thereafter
- Elderberry (10 mL daily)
Some people believe that this herb can stop the flu virus and help the body fight infections. The flowers and berries on an elderberry bush are rumored to have immunity-boosting properties, the ability to treat the flu, and the power to relieve sinus pain.
Elderberry has antiviral properties that may help fight the flu, as well as anti-inflammatory effects that can help relieve bronchial inflammation. A preliminary study has found that taking 15 milliliters of elderberry syrup four times daily for a five-day period can relieve symptoms of influenza an average of four days earlier than those taking a placebo.
- Oregano Oil (500 mg 2x daily)
Oregano oil has a powerful antiviral effect. I like to use oregano oil to fight viral infections because it has powerful antiviral properties. Although there aren’t studies evaluating the efficacy of oregano on influenza specifically, there is research that indicates the powerful antiviral properties of the essential oil.
- Zinc (50–100 mg daily)
Zinc has antiviral effects that help boost immunity. It works best when taken at the very beginning of illness. Zinc may help reduce the symptoms associated with the common cold virus, but taking too much of it can be harmful. Zinc pills and sprays do not appear to work well.
Zinc is effective in treating or preventing cold and flu symptoms when taken in doses of 50-100 milligrams per day.
- Brewer’s Yeast
This popular supplement contains B vitamins, chromium, and protein. The article mentions that eucalyptus oil can be used to treat colds, flu, and respiratory tract infections. In fish, the microbiome is positively influenced by brewer’s yeast, which may also improve digestive function.
A study done at the University of Michigan Medical Center found that taking a yeast supplement can help reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms, and the symptoms will go away sooner.
- Essential Oils for Flu
Essential oils from peppermint and frankincense can help support the body’s natural defenses, according to studies.
I also like to use clove oil to protect my body against infection and help my body recover from the flu faster. The antimicrobial and antioxidant properties of clove oil have been confirmed by research.
- Chiropractic Care for Flu Prevention
Flu patients who received chiropractic care were more likely to survive during the 1918 flu epidemic. Chiropractic care focuses on the nervous system, which can help improve immunity.
Chiropractic adjustments may help to boost immunity, according to a 2011 study.
Beneficial bacteria help keep your gut healthy, which can boost your immune system.
The study found that Bacillus bacteria can completely inhibit the influenza virus.
A systematic review of randomized controlled trials in 2017 showed that probiotics and prebiotics can improve the immune response to influenza vaccinations. The results of the study showed that participants who took probiotics and prebiotics had significantly higher protection rates against the H1N1 and H3N2 strains. This suggests that taking probiotics may elevate your immunity.
More home remedies for colds in babies
A cold can make a baby pretty miserable. There’s not much you can do to speed up your baby’s recovery from a cold, but there are ways to make them more comfortable. Antibiotics won’t help with a cold. Liquids are key when taken orally, in the air, and as a nasal treatment.
drinking plenty of fluids will help your baby feel better by thinning out their nasal secretions. The best way to keep your baby well-hydrated is to breastfeed or formula feed more frequently. If your baby is having trouble feeding from the breast or bottle due to congestion, try suctioning their nose first.
It is advisable to only give babies breast milk or formula unless instructed otherwise by a doctor. Babies that young shouldn’t have water, as it could be harmful for them.
Moist air helps to loosen the mucus in the nasal passages which makes it easier to breath. Place a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier in your baby’s bedroom to help them sleep, rest, or play more comfortably.
Caution: Thoroughly clean and dry your humidifier every day. When you use a humidifier, mold and bacteria can build up inside it and be released into the air.
Instead of using a vaporizer or humidifier, you can fill your little one’s bathroom with steam by running a hot shower. Turn on the shower and let it run for a few minutes before preparations for the bath begin. Let your children play in the bath for as long as they want, but make sure you are supervising them. A bath at a warm temperature can help to relax your baby.
Or, you can create your own steam room:
- Close the bathroom door.
- Use a towel to block the gap under the door.
- Run hot water in the tub or shower for a few minutes.
- Sit in the steamy room with your child for about 15 minutes.
Saline drops and nasal aspirator
If you have a young child who is unable to blow their nose, you can use saline drops and a nasal aspirator to help them out. An aspirator can help to clear mucus from your child’s nose, making it easier for them to nurse or drink from a bottle. Try using it about 15 minutes before feeding.
- A nasal aspirator. This can be a simple rubber bulb syringe or a device with tubing that allows you to suction out the mucus with a mouthpiece.
- Saline (salt water) nose drops or saline spray for infants and children. Both are available at pharmacies without a prescription. You also can prepare saline drops at home. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests mixing 1/2 teaspoon of table salt with 1 cup of warm water.
The FDA recommends only using store-bought distilled or sterile water, or tap water that you’ve boiled for three to five minutes and cooled until lukewarm when making saline drops. pathogens in untreated water can enter your nose and cause serious infections. The solution is only good for 24 hours because bacteria can grow in it.
To use saline drops:
- Tip your child’s head back, or lay them on their back with a rolled-up towel supporting their head.
- Squeeze two or three drops of saline solution into each nostril.
- Gently massage your child’s nostrils. Wait a minute or two for the saline solution to thin and soften the mucus before suctioning.
To suction with a bulb syringe:
- Squeeze the bulb of the syringe, then gently insert the rubber tip into your baby’s nostril. Some doctors recommend also gently closing off the other nostril with your finger to get better suction from the bulb syringe.
- Slowly release the bulb to collect mucus and saline solution.
- Remove the syringe and squeeze the bulb to expel the mucus into a tissue.
- Wipe the syringe and repeat with the other nostril.
- Repeat if necessary.
- Clean the device with warm, soapy water.
To suction with a tube-based nasal aspirator:
- Make sure a clean filter is in place. (This prevents you from sucking mucus or bacteria through the tube into your mouth.)
- Place the tube end against your baby’s nostril, creating a seal.
- Place the mouthpiece in your mouth and gently suck out the mucus.
- Clean the device and add a clean filter for next time.
- Don’t suction your child’s nose more than a few times a day or you might irritate the nasal lining.
- Don’t use saline drops for more than four days in a row because they can dry out your baby’s nose over time, making things worse.
- You can also use the bulb syringe or aspirator without saline.
- If your baby gets upset when you use an aspirator, try using just saline drops instead. Squirt a small amount into their nose, then gently massage their nose and use a cotton swab to swipe just within the outer edge of the nostrils. Be careful not to insert the swab inside the nostrils.
- If your child’s nose is irritated from rubbing or blowing, apply a little petroleum jelly or other child-safe ointments on the outside of their nose. Use a wet cotton swab to remove any sticky mucus around the nose.
Warm liquids and chicken soup
Warm liquids can help babies feel better who are 6 months or older and have a congestion problem. The scientists have found that the ingredients in chicken soup may help to ease the symptoms of a cold, such as congestion. If your baby is still getting used to solid foods, broth is a good option. If your baby is older, you can give them warm water, broth, soup, or chamomile tea. Serve liquids warm, not hot.
Lots of rest
Having an infection takes up a lot of energy, which can make babies, toddlers, and children tired. Even adults can get tired from fighting an infection. When your child takes a break, they’re getting better, which is just what they require.
There’s no need to worry if your baby is sleeping more than usual while they’re sick. If you can, make them go to bed earlier or let them sleep in later. Your baby may even want an extra nap.
Meanwhile, it can be a real struggle to get a sick baby who is uncomfortable to fall asleep. Here are some tips that may help them get better sleep:
- Try to stick to your usual routines at nap time and bedtime.
- Get them as comfy as you can before they fall asleep. For example, use a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator if they’re stuffed up, and use a humidifier in their room.
- Give your baby a warm bath. It’s calming and may help relieve congestion, too.