Yes, yes, and yes is the answer to this question! I did a short Instagram story for the daily health tip on this topic last week, but I will give you all my tips and tricks right now.
First of all, there are clearly two parts to what products to use. The first part is using immune boosters to make sure you don't get sick. The second part are remedies to use once you're already down with the flu. So here we go. Now with all of these, please check with your doctor first in case you are using any medicine or have health problems that might interact with these natural remedies. And of course they don't substitute going to the doctor, but go hand in hand with conventional treatment.
Secondly, we put every illness in the winter under the umbrella of the flu. I will talk about common cold symptoms here, too, which may be plaguing you.
What I love about natural remedies is that they often don't have harsh side effects the way mainstream pharmaceuticals do. When you use herbal remedies, your body takes what it needs from the herb, and lets the rest just go. This makes it super easy to use with children, because you don't have to worry about adverse reactions or overdosing.
Boosting your immune system
There are so many things out there, and I usually don't like to share specific products, because I know that it's hard to get your hands on some of these depending on where you are in the world. So there are some ideas you can make yourself at home, and some that you can purchase online.
One of the easiest things we can do is make sure we have good hygiene when it comes to the flu. Wash your hands every time you get home with warm water and soap. I like to wash Baby Zand's hands and change her clothes as soon as we get home, so she doesn't carry any viruses around with her. That is also something useful for us to consider in case we come in contact with a lot of people throughout the day, like at the office or in public transportation.
I have written extensively about fire cider because it's one of the most powerful immune boosters out there. There are some companies that makes fire ciders, you can look for them in health food stores. However, it is super easy to make yourself for a fraction of the cost, and it will last you all flu season long. It is basically a concoction of garlic, chili, apple cider vinegar, rosemary, onion, ginger, turmeric, and horseradish. The downside is that it needs to sit and rest for 1 month, so it may be too late to start your batch right now. But definitely keep this recipe in mind for the next flu season!
Vitamin C is definitely the most used vitamin when it comes to the cold. The way it works, is that it catches intruders and disarms them. Of course we should all get enough vitamin C in our diet, but we often don't. Vitamin C is extremely fragile when it is heated, so any vegetables or fruit that are cooked will no longer contain vitamin C. In the winter time we don't often eat raw foods, so a green smoothie in the morning can definitely help get more vitamin C through foods into you. Supplementing with vitamin C can then be a good idea during the flu season. Commonly, women need 65mg and men need 90mg per day. You want to at least take this much every day to make up for not eating enough. You can safely go up to 2000mg a day longterm with minimal side effects like diarrhea.
You may have heard of colloidal silver, tiny silver particles diluted in water that can help to boost the immune system and fight illnesses. The downside of colloidal silver is that it can lead to silver toxicity. That is where accelerated silver comes in. Think of it more like a homeopathic product, where the water is in contact with the silver, and takes on its frequency, without actually any silver particles inside. I know this sounds like hippy voodoo, but it is amazing what it can do. It tastes just like water, and you can take it several times a day to boost your immune system and fight illnesses. It oxygenates your blood cells, and helps to make you feel more energetic. And because there are no silver parts in it, it means there are no side effects to it. Check it out for yourself here.
Reishi is a medicinal mushroom, a very powerful immune modulator that will help strengthen your immune system. Reishi is popping up all over the world in hot chocolates and lattes as a superfood. You can find it as a powder to mix 1 tsp a day into smoothies, or get whole reishi mushrooms and cook them with other mushrooms into a broth. This can be the base of soups, or you can just sip on a cup of broth every day.
Garlic is a powerful antibiotic, and helps to boost the immune system. It is part of the fire cider, and I use it in every meal throughout the winter. Yes, I apologize if you smell the garlic bomb that I am, but it really helps, and it's delicious, too.
In order to have a well functioning immune system, you need rest, and good sleep. Not sleeping may be a badge of honor for you, but it does not help to reset your stress hormones. Sleeping 8-9 hours a night can be the best immune booster for you - and it's free! Check out some evening rituals here to help you sleep like a baby.
Eating wholesome food
There is no doubt about it. Eating foods out of a box is not going to give you the nutrients you need to boost your immune system. Eat fresh, wholesome foods the way I always talk about on the blog.
For when the flu hits
Vitamin C and zinc
Studies (here and here) show again and again that combination of vitamin C and zinc can help alleviate symptoms, and make a cold or flu last much shorter. That is great news for us, because taking some extra vitamin C and zinc can be super easy. Usually vitamin C is needed at 65mg for women and 90mg for men per day. As soon as you feel symptoms of a cold or flu coming, studies show that you need to increase your vitamin C intake dramatically. Take 1000mg three times a day to help alleviate symptoms until you feel better.
As for zinc, women need 8mg and men need 11mg per day. Zinc is a champion when it comes to fighting infections in your body, and especially respiratory illnesses. As soon as you feel symptoms coming, you should start taking 75mg per day until you feel better.
To make life easier, I always have extra zinc and vitamin C in our little home pharmacy, so I don't have to rush out when we start getting sick.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is more powerful in killing bacteria and viruses than antibiotics are. It works wonders on a sore throat. Place 1-2 drops in a glass of lukewarm water, then gargle with it for one minute, and spit out. Do this every hour until you feel better, and you will. You can also dab a drop of tea tree oil straight onto your neck.
In case you have a persistent cough or a sore throat, slippery elm helps to soothe your throat. You can find this as little lozenges in health food stores or as a powder that you can combine with water into a slippery tea. Sip on this throughout the day until you feel more comfortable in your throat.
For kids, drinking slippery elm may not be a texture they enjoy. In that case combine it with a little bit of applesauce, and they will eat it right up.
Elderflower is great for mucus, like a runny nose or a wet cough. It can also help reduce a low grade fever. You can get this in the form of a syrup or make it into an herbal tea. Elderflower is super gentle for children, and you can add this syrup or the tea to a bottle to give to them.
Grab some essential eucalyptus oil and put a few drops in a diffuser if you have one. This will help clear the air, and help you to breathe if you are very congested. You can also add 1-2 drops to a body oil, and spread on your chest for deeper breathing. Be careful with young children around, you do not want to use eucalyptus oil with them.
If you've ever looked into herbal remedies, you will have likely heard of echinacea. Even though many people take it for prevention, it is actually most powerful when you take it in small dosages many times (8) a day for a short period of time (maybe a week until symptoms have passed). This means when you get a bottle of echinacea, lower the dosage that is says on there, so you can take it more often.
Ginger is warming, and helps to reduce a low grade fever. You can use just a plain ginger root, slice it up, add some hot water and drink this as a tea. You can also add ginger to a broth to drink.
For higher fevers, you can use sage, a cooling herb. Again, make a tea out of it and sip this throughout the day. In general, a fever is a good thing though. It is your body fighting the intruder. You want to sweat out the fever as much as possible, which means you are sweating out the intruder and all the toxins they are leaving behind. Of course, if you are ever worried, go to the doctor ASAP!
Drink warm herbal teas, water, and broths when you are not well. Even though you may not feel like drinking (or eating), this will help your body to flush out the intruders. All of the above mentioned herbs can be made into herbal teas you can sip on throughout the day.
When the flu or a cold hits, it's a sign that your body is too overloaded, and has too much to deal with. Make sure you get plenty of rest. This helps you to get back on your feet quicker, and you will also not get other people sick around you.
I hope this helps you navigate the herbal remedies this flu season. If you would like to submit a question to Q&A Wednesday, please feel free to comment below or send me an email. I love to hear from.