By Sarena-Rae Santos, Contributing Writer
Influenza, also known as the flu, is something we’ve all gotten at least once.
According to the CDC, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus infecting the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs resulting in mild to severe illness. The flu is believed to be spread via droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. Symptoms of the flu typically include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults (1)
According to Cleveland Clinic, most people with influenza who are otherwise healthy do not need particular drugs or treatments. Instead, they recommend:
- Drinking lots of fluids
- Eating a light diet
- Staying at home
- Taking acetaminophen to reduce fever and relieve muscle aches
Additionally, they warn that adults should avoid giving aspirin to children or adolescents with fevers due to the association with Reye’s syndrome (2).
Firstly, we don’t want to band-aid the problem with medications, especially not acetaminophen, which has been linked to various health concerns. So how can you manage influenza symptoms naturally? Let’s discuss it!
Natural Remedies for Influenza
As discussed in, Is Elderberry Really The Best Flu Remedy, there are many options from elderberry that can be beneficial while sick with the flu.
To start, hydration is critical. Proper hydration is much more than just drinking water. Throughout the day, we sweat and lose minerals; the easiest way to replenish them is by consuming electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate, and magnesium (3). Foods rich in electrolytes include:
- Coconut (4)
- Spinach (5)
- Kale (6)
- Avocado (7)
- Almonds (8)
- Maple sugar (9)
- Himalayan pink salt (10)
- Cream of tartar (11)
Smoothies are one of the best ways to ensure you get quality electrolytes. You could add spinach, kale, or avocados to a base of coconut water or almond milk. Then, of course, add your favorite fruit to make it tasty.
Additionally, nourishing your body is vital. Look for herbs that will replenish the nutrients you’ll lose during illness. Herbs like nettle leaf and alfalfa are excellent for this, both brimming with vitamins and minerals (12,13). Look at this herbal multivitamin formulated to provide the body with safe and adequate levels of vitamins and minerals it can absorb properly.
Other herbs beneficial for managing influenza symptoms:
- Elderberry can support the immune system (14), so its ability to fight cold and flu symptoms make sense. Elderberries have reduced the severity and length of influenza and may also play a role in preventing influenza (15). I recommend Earthley’s Immune-Biotic for cold and flu relief.
- Ginger may be helpful with respiratory infections (16) and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, including inhibiting the TNF-alpha cytokine (17). That’s why ginger is found in Earthley’s Elderberry Elixir. Fresh ginger (but not dried) was also beneficial in preventing/helping RSV (18).
- Echinacea can support the immune system (19), so it’s no surprise that it can also help shorten the common cold and flu duration while reducing symptoms of a sore throat (pharyngitis), cough, and fever (20). I highly recommend Earthley’s Herbal Throat Spray, especially if you have a sore throat or cough.
Fermented foods, especially true lactic-acid ferments (anaerobic ferments), have been shown to activate the TH-1 immune system and prevent viral infection (21). Consuming fermented foods regularly may help to prevent illness. Fermented milk products (yogurt, kefir) containing lactic-acid bacteria were associated with a lower risk of allergies (22,23). Kimchi is beneficial against food-borne illnesses (24). Kombucha may repair damage caused by environmental irritants and help kidney function (25).
Very early research shows that pomegranate juice may be effective against flu, stomach flu (norovirus), and other infections (26). Pomegranate has also been shown to possibly prevent and even cure cancer (27) of the breast (28), prostate (29), and colon (30).
Cod liver oil is incredibly beneficial. It contains vitamins A and D, which have benefits for immune function. It may also protect against or slow the development of heart disease (31). It has anti-inflammatory properties as well (32). It may decrease the risk of respiratory illness (33,34). It also affects the fat-soluble vitamin content of breast milk (35). It may reduce the risk of cancer (36) and help with rheumatoid arthritis (37). It may reduce the risk of type I diabetes (other vitamin D supplements didn’t show the same effect) (38). Cod liver oil also reduces the risk of diabetes when pregnant women take it (additional vitamin D and multivitamin supplements didn’t show the same effect) (39). It benefits eye health and may decrease the risk of glaucoma and associated blindness (40). I highly recommend Earthley’s Cod Liver Oil.
Vitamin C is also important, but not the ascorbic acid you’ll find in the store–whole foods are what you want. Acerola berry and camu camu are two great sources of vitamin C (41). That’s why acerola berry is in Earthley’s Immune-Aid Vitamin C. Acerola berry is high in vitamin C and has antioxidant and anti-aging properties (42).
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and nothing in this post is intended to diagnose, treat, or cure anything. If you have questions, please do your own research or seek advice from a health professional.
How do you handle influenza naturally?