Having just survived a stomach flu, then a bad cold and yet another flu, I have done some serious research on not only how to naturally treat colds and flu symptoms but also how to prevent the illness from happening in the first place. One thing that is always recommended is to get a flu shot – especially for those “at risk”. I am not here to take a stance on whether or not to get the flu vaccine. I am, however, here to tell you what you and your kids or family can do help prevent this annoying life speedbump that won’t cost a fortune. I will also note what to do if you find yourself in need of cold and flu rescue!
So first things first – in order to stay healthy, you need to give your body what it needs – a constant supply of nutrients. Some studies show that “optimizing” vitamin D is a way to help prevent illness and shortening duration if you do get sick. Getting enough sleep is also vital to preventing illness. Even a couple nights of not enough sleep can leave the body worn down and unable to resist illness. (I have a 7 month old – hence my flu-cold-flu pattern!) Regular exercise has also been shown to reduce the number of times a person gets ill per year and the duration.
So that is what to do to “prevent”. But if you are stuck in the depth of flu-hell, prevention can take a hike. So here are some ideas on what you can do if you’re in the thick of it. There are so many natural herbs, oils and remedies out there – it is actually overwhelming! So I have picked my top faves. Some may seem unconventional and some may be “old news” but they are all worth a try for a variety of ailments and symptoms!
Hot Liquids– This one is a no-brainer but still a solid recommendation – load up on the hot herbal teas and hot lemon water at first sign of illness. The heat helps boost your immune system and a variety of herbs can help with infection.
Remove White Foods– At the first sign of illness, completely remove all white foods from the diet. This includes grains, sugars, milk, cheese, dairy, sweeteners, soda, etc. These foods suppress immune function and slow the body’s healing ability. Given the reason, it may be a good idea to remove these for your regular diet!
Nettle Leaf – Some natural doctors say this is the only herb needed for illness treatment. It contains large amounts of vitamins and trace minerals and helps the body stay hydrated and remove toxins.
Garlic– It’s a natural antibiotic, anti-fungal and antibacterial. For the most potent effect (and a sure-fire way to keep visitors at bay) finely mince 1-2 cloves of garlic and float in a small glass of water.
Cinnamon – Cinnamon is an effective antiviral and antibiotic. Mix 1 tablespoon with 1 teaspoon of honey and stir to make a spicy and very effective tea that helps relieve cough and congestion and lower fever.
Ginger – In capsule form, ginger can greatly help with nausea and vomiting associated with the flu. It can also help with high fever and headache.
Yarrow – I had never heard of this one! But apparently it is unsurpassed for flu and fever, and great for kids. If a lot is used in tea at the start of getting sick, it claims to shorten the illness to less than 24 hours.
Peppermint – It can be used as a tea or rubbed on the skin to bring a high fever down. It is antimicrobial and antiviral and kids usually love the taste.
Vitamin C – Perhaps the best vitamin for cold and flu, vitamin C in large amounts can greatly speed recovery.
Onions and Garlic – You may want to sleep alone with this one! Slice onion and garlic and place all over the bottom of the feet (rub olive oil on first). Then wrap the foot in saran wrap and place a sock on overnight. Onions and garlic have been shown to pull toxins and help the body heal.
Apple Cider Vinegar Gargle and Drink– Yes Andrea (Fit Communication’s HUGE Apple Cider Vinegar supporter) I will do it! Drink a tablespoon in water (gargle first) at the first sign of illness and repeat hourly until symptoms disappear. This alkalizes the body and helps kill viruses and bacteria.
Hydrogen Peroxide– At the first sign of cold, flu, sinus infection, or ear infection, put a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide into each ear. Lie still with the hydrogen peroxide in the ear until it stops bubbling. Do this on both sides. This is especially effective for kids. Repeat every few hours until infection is gone.
Chicken Soup – It’s been used as a “cure-all” by our grandmothers and their grandmothers’ grandmothers – for good reason! Chicken soup stops certain white blood cells (neutrophils) from congregating and causing inflammation, preventing large amounts of mucus from being produced. The hot soup also thins the mucus. Adding freshly chopped garlic to your soup gives the system a powerful boost as the garlic kills germs outright. Adding red chili pepper flakes to increase the broth’s decongestant power.
Blow-dryer – As strange as this sounds, inhaling heated air may help kill a virus working its way up your nose. Set your hair dryer on warm and hold it at least 18 inches from your face. Breathe in the air through your nose for at least two or three minutes but preferably 20 minutes.
There you have it. Try these to prevent or seek relief from those nasty little bugs that wreak havoc on life. They are all natural remedies so they’re definitely worth a try!