Flu season appears annually in the cold half of the year. It usually begins in the United States as early as October and lasts through March. Each year, on average, 5 to 20 percent of the American population is affected with the flu, and, of those affected, 200,000 people are hospitalized and close to 36,000 people die from flu related complications. (If you’re interested in seeing what’s happening with the flu in the U.S., google has a flu predictor tool, so click here to see what’s happening.)
Although there are no real “flu cures,” even though my title says so, there are flu aids or natural remedies that can lessen symptoms. However, before you try any of the following remedies, people sometimes get confused between the cold and flu, so here’s a chart to help you compare symptoms:
Symptom Comparisons between a Cold and the Flu
The flu also usually comes on quickly and is more severe than a cold, and colds usually being with a sore throat. If you decide you have a cold, you can learn how to help your symptoms by reading Remedies For a Cold. If you have the flu, one of the most important things you can do is rest. Taking time off to get better will actually speed up healing, so relax and be sick and let your body to spend its energy on getting better. Although remedies for flu are similar to those used for colds, they’re still different, and, so, here are ten flu remedies:
- Chicken Soup. This prescription has been used for generations, but it works. Researchers tested its effectiveness and discovered there’s two reasons how it helps: First, it reduces inflammation, and, second, it speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose, which relieves congestion and limits contact with nasal passage linings.
- Echinacea. This herb is extremely popular, and several studies have shown it can halt a cold or flu in its tracks. It can also shorten the time your illness lasts.
- Fever Reducers. Besides the normal over-the-counter (OTC) fever reducers, you can also try acupuncture or apply an aromatherapy compresses using diluted essential oils of bergamot, chamomile, or eucalyptus. If you’re unfamiliar with essential oils, read Essential Oil Safety Tips. You can also try a hot foot bath and a cold compress on your forehead, while wrapping yourself in a blanket. It is supposed to work best if you have both a fever and a headache. Another fever and headache remedy is rosemary tea. Add 1/2 ounce of rosemary to 1 pint boiled water and steep for ten minutes in a covered pot.
- Ginger. You may already know ginger’s great for motion sickness and an upset stomach, but it’s also great for the flu. You can steep a ginger tea by combining ginger with cloves (which is an antiseptic and kills germs) and cinnamon (which has anti-microbial and warming properties). Add a little honey, and you’ll find it reduces flu symptoms. If you’re interested in learning more about ginger, read Did You Know Ginger … You can also add cinnamon to the ginger tea, it helps increase its warming properties.
- Massage. When you suffering aches and pains nothing feels better than a massage. Use eucalyptus oil and massage your chest and back to help reducing suffering.
- Shower or Bath. Viruses thrive in dry conditions. So, a steamy hot shower not only helps moisturize your nasal passages but also reduces virus-loving conditions. A shower can also stimulate your lymph system to clear out toxins and help you relax by reducing aches and pains. If you’re too tired to stand, try a hot bath instead. Michael Tierra, L.Ac., O.M.D., and author of The Way of Herbs, suggests a sweating herbal tea, known as a diaphoretic, before a shower or bath. You use 1 ounce dried herbs to 1 pint water, and it is a combination of angelica plus equal parts of “ephedra, mint or lemon balm, garlic and a half part of licorice to smooth out the action.”
- Steam. Because you can have chest discomfort with the flu, fill a sink with steaming hot water. Then add 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped ginger. According to Chinese Medicine News, ginger helps lessen flu symptoms because it “improves blood stagnation and symptoms of acute respiratory infections.” If you don’t want to add ginger to the hot water, try five or six drops of eucalyptus oil. It has cineol or euclyptol, which is a decongestant and opens bronchial passages and loosens phlegm. It also has strong germicidal and antibacterial properties. Whether you choose ginger or eucalyptus, breathe in the steam for several minutes by draping a towel over your head.
- Vitamin C and Zinc. According to Orthomolecular, when you get a cold you should take vitamin C daily, because it neutralizes free radicals, helps kill viruses, and strengthens the body’s immune system. Zinc is great for both cold and flu symptoms because it is a critical element needed to fight infection and maintain a strong immune system. The brand I use is Cold-EEZE.
Water. Fevers cause dehydration, so you need to make sure you drink plenty of water. Additionally, staying hydrated eliminates toxins more rapidly and that let’s you heal. To help stay hydrated you should also avoid diuretics, such as coffee.
- Wet Socks. According to an alternative blog, Own Your Health, wet socks help you sleep. Soak a pair of cotton socks in cold water, wring them out, and put them on your feet. Cover your feet with a dry pair of wool socks and then wrap your feet in towels. Because your feet are cold, the blood goes to your feet to warm them and that helps you to sleep. Additionally, because the blood goes towards your bottom half, you end up being less congested.
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People sometimes have allergic or adverse reactions to spices, herbs, or