When the leaves just start dropping off the trees, the mercury goes down, and the sunlight slowly fades away, you know for sure that winter is finally here. And what follows those dark, gloomy days and bitterly cold nights? If you are lucky, it's just a common cold, but if it's not your day, your body might get wracked with a high temperature and aching muscles; signs that you have encountered the dreadful flu.
So the obvious next step is shutting yourself down and let yourself be miserable for an entire week until your body overcomes the problem. After all, there is no cure for the flu, right?
Not so fast!
While there is certainly no magic pill that you can swallow and expect to be on your foot the next day, there certainly are a few natural ways to support your immune system and cut short the duration and severity of this illness. We are not absolutely powerless anymore!
But what can be done to get rid of the flu as quickly and as naturally as you can this winter? Which natural remedies are effective and which of them may not work too well? Keep reading to find out.
#1 - Essential Oils
Who doesn't love essential oils? They are relaxing, they have beautiful aromas, and, on top of all, they keep you healthy!
Essential oils for flu have been recommended by numerous health experts as a safe and effective natural remedy to combat the flu. Research has shown that some of these oils stop the flu virus from replicating, and together with their anti-bacterial action, they can be really useful.
A number of essential oils have been studied for their antiviral effects against the flu virus. For example, a study has found that steam inhalation with chamomile essential oil can reduce the severity of flu symptoms. (1) Another study has proven melaleuca oil or tea tree oil also possesses strong antiviral properties that can be effective against the flu virus as well. (2)
You can also use peppermint oil as it will not only decongest your nose but reduce fever, too. It also contains methanol, the strong-smelling ingredient found in most topical rubs that opens up blocked nasal passages and lets you breathe easily. (3)
There are several ways in which you can use essential oil to beat the flu. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy recommends the following: (4)
- Steam inhalation: Put 5 to 7 drops of any essential oil in a pot of boiling water. Lean over the bowl while covering your head with a towel. Close your eyes and keep breathing through your nose. Take note of the temperature so as not to burn yourself.
- Direct inhalation: Sniff the essential oil of your choice from its bottle. You can also add a few drops of the oil to a handkerchief or a cotton ball. Alternatively, drop some of it on your pillows before going to sleep.
- Mix 2 to 12 drops of essential oil in a suitable carrier oil and add it to your bath.
- Dilute a few drops of peppermint oil with a carrier oil and dab some of it on your temples to get rid of headaches.
- Use aromatherapy diffusers, vaporizers, or electric diffusers for a pleasant atmosphere at home.
#2 - Teas
As soon as you catch the flu, the first advice given by most people is to drink more fluids. There are different types of fluids that you can take for a faster recovery, such as plain water and soups. Teas are, however, preferred by many since it provides a soothing effect to your throat as well.
The warmth of tea is great for your throat and can also help relieve congestion. It also improves the bacteria-fighting ability of your body, hence, makes it easier for you to overcome the cold.
And you can always have the option to add different things to your teas. For example, honey can be added to relieve a cough, and a few drops of lemon juice will not only improve the flavor but also boost your immune system to help fight the infection.
Different types of teas can be used to fight the flu. Some of them include:
- Peppermint can reduce nasal congestion, decrease inflammation, and get rid of body aches. (5)
- Chamomile tea is rich in flavonoids that can relieve inflammation and tranquilize your body so you can have a sound sleep and recover faster.
- Echinacea tea can boost your immune system and cut short the total duration of your disease.
- Green tea is loaded with antioxidants that remove free radicals and fight bacteria. It can also relieve cough and nasal congestion. (6)
#3 - Garlic
Known for its stinky smell, garlic is known for its power to keep the vampires away. But that's not the only thing garlic can do. In fact, it is capable of so much more.
Garlic possesses potent immune-boosting properties that can help fight cold and prevent future recurrences. It is loaded with anti-inflammatory agents and can even help detoxify the body from all sorts of harmful substances. It can even fight different types of viruses, fungi, and bacteria. (7)
All you need to do is add a garlic tincture to your daily health regimen and you are already more protected from the flu virus. This tincture is even effective against the toughest viral strains, thanks to allicin, its active ingredient. (8)
Alternatively, you may also take garlic supplements or simply swallow the whole cloves. To get rid of the pungent smell, don't forget to pop a mint or chew a few parsley leaves.
#4 - Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver is one of the lesser-known remedies when it comes to the flu. This substance contains silver nanoparticles coated in a solution of ammonia and sugars. The size of these particles is so small that it is impossible for you to view them through naked eyes.
The germ-killing properties of silver have been recognized by scientists for some time now; however, no one is exactly sure how these properties work. The general theory is that these nanoparticles get attached to the cell walls of the bacteria and destroy them. Others believe that they react with certain substances inside the body to convert into silver salt which, in turn, kills microbes.
While many studies regarding the anti-viral properties of colloidal silver have yielded beneficial results, most of them are in vivo. (9) This means that they have been performed in Petri dishes or test tubes. More human trials are needed to actually establish the efficacy and safety profile of colloidal silver against the flu virus.
#5- Epsom Salt
Epsom salt has been an important ingredient of many detox baths along with essential oils and gingers. This salt is mixed with the bath water and the body is soaked in it for up to an hour to cleanse it. But can it cure the flu virus?
Studies are limited but there is still some hope. Moreover, a detox bath with Epsom salt can also help get rid of flu-related symptoms like soreness and muscle aches. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oils for added benefits.
According to a study, taking a detox bath with Epsom salt increases the levels of magnesium in the body. This increase helps the body get rid of lactic acid from the muscles which consequently reduces pain and helps the muscles relax. (10)
#6 - Charcoal
Activated charcoal possesses the property to bind itself to all the toxic heavy metals in your body, such as cadmium, mercury, lead, and arsenic. As these pollutants leave the body, your body's natural systems get strengthened, and ultimately, you heal from a flu attack at a much faster rate. (11) However, more clinical research is needed in this area.
You can easily get activated charcoal in the form of loose powder but it usually causes staining. For easy consumption, most people prefer swallowing charcoal capsules.
#7 - Phosphorus
Is the flu causing you to feel weak and dizzy? Are the headache and sore throat troubling you a lot? Has it also affected your digestive system? Phosphorus can help.
Phosphorus is also a great remedy to get rid of the flu if it's causing you to vomit and making you thirsty. So gear up on as much phosphorus-containing food as possible, such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, and poultry. You may also consider consuming phosphorus containing supplements.
In a Nutshell
As soon as the winter arrives, the incidence of flu rises drastically, and it can be extremely discomforting for most people since it not only affects your nose but can also cause muscle pain and high temperatures. While there is not much out there to do medically, there are many natural ways to tackle it. Remedies like ginger, Epsom salt bath, essential oils, and herbal teas can work like magic, certain remedies like colloidal silver require caution. Follow the tips mentioned in this article to help save yourself from the hassling flu this winter. In addition, there are many vitamins, minerals, and herbs you can take to strengthen your immune system naturally.