Flu season is upon us and you or your child might have been invited for your flu vaccination. If the thought of needles terrifies you, or you have other reasons for not being too keen on the idea of a jab, there are natural ways to help protect yourself. Here are some herbal remedies for flu.
Protecting Yourself From Flu With Good Nutrition
There are a number of reasons why flu season happens in winter. To start with, we tend to spend more time indoors, making it much easier for all kinds of viruses to spread. That also means less time out in the sunshine, which in turn means we make less Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is specifically linked to a higher risk of catching flu (1), so it’s important to make sure you’re supplementing daily between October and April. Whilst it’s tempting to go for the stodgy, carby comfort foods, make sure that half your diet is seasonal fruit and veg, and eat a probiotic food every day too. Certain strains of Acidophilus and Bifidobacterium probiotics in particular have proven useful both in preventing flu, and making the flu vaccine more effective (2,3).
Herbal Remedies For Preventing Flu
Besides diet, there are other factors which influence our ability to fight off viruses. In order to really get your immunity working well, I’d look at things like how well you sleep, how stressful your life is, and how much exercise you get. Sometimes even when we know we need more sleep and exercise, it’s simply not possible, and in that case we can use a class of herbs called adaptogens to help buffer the effects of stress upon your body. Adaptogens are not a substitute for an optimally healthy lifestyle, but they do help us out of our stress response regardless of what’s going on in our lives. I use specific herbs to support people who find that stress affects their immunity, and others which encourage the immune system to mount a robust response. On top of those I add in herbs which nourish and strengthen tissues in the nose, throat and lungs, so that all bases are covered!
Children with poor immunity also respond well to herbal treatment. Many of the herbs we use to help protect against flu taste nice, and most kids will happily take Elderflower, Peppermint or Honeysuckle.
Pregnant women are routinely offered the flu vaccination, as pregnancy can really affect immunity and make flu much more dangerous both for mum and baby. Whilst it’s deemed safe, to my knowledge there were no human trials to determine the safety of the vaccine during pregnancy before it became routine to offer it. There’s now a suggestion that the vaccine is linked to a slightly higher risk of miscarriage if it was used both the year before conception, and during pregnancy (4).
Herbal Remedies For Treating Flu
There are a number of herbs found effective in treating ‘flu, including Liquorice, Echinacea, and American Ginseng (5). However, the chances are you don’t have any of these ready to go if you catch flu tomorrow, so a good standard tea to have at home contains equal parts Elderflower, Peppermint and Boneset. Boneset is particularly useful in relieving the muscular aches that come with flu, whilst the others act as decongestants, and all three will quickly reduce a high temperature. Elderberry syrup is very palatable for young children (please message me for advice on dosage) and taken in warm water will also bring down a high temperature.
That said, in order to get the best results from your herbal remedies for flu, get a medicine tailor made for you. Get in touch now to book an express appointment, and be sure you’re taking the right herbs in the right dose.
Cover image courtesy of Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.