Getting the flu is no fun, but there are ways to lessen its impact and give your body support naturally. Here are a few to consider.
Influenza can be a very serious, even deadly, virus. It’s particularly threatening for those age 65 and older, or in children age 5 and younger.
And the flu vaccine isn’t always the best defense either.
Influenza has a very sudden, acute onset, with many feeling 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 immunocompromised, a diagnosis of Influenza A or B can turn the corner very quickly. Most will be prescribed Tamiflu, an antiviral drug, within 1-2 days of symptom onset so it’s important to get evaluated if you suspect influenza.
It’s also just as important to optimize your health during the winter months when the flu is so readily transmitted.
A typical flu season lasts anywhere from November through March, and can sometimes peak even later into spring. Regardless, you’ll want all the immune system support you can get, so here are a few natural flu-fighting remedies to consider.
1. Vitamin D
Much of America is deficient in Vitamin D, so this supplement can really be taken year-round. 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 at higher dosages, just ask a health professional to determine your blood levels and recommend a supplement.
Some echinacea extracts have been shown to have antiviral properties by interfering with influenza’s entry into cells and limiting it from replicating.
Research studies have shown that Elderberry extract may be an effective antiviral supplement and may actually inhibit replication of the human influenza virus. It’s also been shown to cut the duration of symptoms in half, so this supplement may be one of the best during flu season at the onset of symptoms appearing.
A healthy gut microbiome is essential, and not just for digestion. One study in young children showed that Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus acidophilus probiotic strains in particular were effective for fending off influenza. A healthy gut microflora is also known to boost the immune system, packing a double punch.
While larger research studies are limited, garlic has been used an antimicrobial across different cultures for thousands of years. Not only is it an antibacterial agent, but it’s also antiviral and may provide 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’s anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties may help play a supportive role during flu season. It’s active compound is allicin, the same as garlic.
Remember, there are many factors that have a cumulative impact on the immune system. Your first-line defense against the flu will always be good hand hygiene, getting adequate amounts of sleep, staying hydrated, reducing stress, and staying adequately nourished through whole foods.
Give yourself a fighting chance, and stay well.
Adapted from the original article.
Kasey Goins, PA-C is a Physician Assistant and Functional Medicine Practitioner Student based in Kalamazoo, MI, with a passion for helping individuals recover from chronic digestive issues and fatigue through real food and holistic medicine. She loves baking and is constantly making messes in the kitchen. To get started on your own health journey, visit her at Well-Fed Soul and grab the free 3 Day Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan.