You may have heard that the flu is now widespread and causing misery in nearly every state across the country (except Hawaii... should we all just pack our bags and go there?). Even those who had their flu shot have been hit with a 7-10 course of high fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, cough and sometimes abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms typically begin on the third day after the infection, and the virus is pretty well established by that time.
Some vitamins and herbs can help prevent the flu and keep your immune system strong. Some are great for prevention, and others are great to have on hand JUST in case. It can shorten the severity of illness- especially if you start taking these things as soon as you start to feel symptoms, so in my opinion, it's worth stocking up ahead of time.
Here are some of my favorites:
Elderberry: Elderberry not only tastes delicious, it keeps the flu virus from attaching to the cell walls so it is unable to enter the cell and replicate. By lessening the ablility of the virus to replicate, it lowers the viral load and lessens the severity of the illness. This also a great preventative.
Lomatium: One of the best western herbs to fight flu, it was used during the flu pandemic of 1917-18 by the Indian Tribes in Nevada. It was found that the people who were using this herb were not dying like many of the people in the area. It turns out that the volatile oils in this plant contain antiviral/antibactial substances and actually stop the growth of viruses. This is DEFINITELY one for the medicine cabinet and to use as needed for colds/flus.
Oscillococcinum: These quick dissolving sugary pellets with an unusual name (learn how to say it here) are a homeopathic remedy for flu that has been around for decades. It is said to "temporarily relieves flu-like symptoms such as body aches, headache, fever, chills and fatigue." I know many people who swear by this and I've personally used it with good results. Another as needed, but I've heard of people using micro doses as preventative all season long.
Ban Lan Gen: This extremly bitter but very effective Chinese Herb is also known as Istatis root and is one of many that we use for flu, which we call toxic-heat in Chinese Medicine. It's been used for over two-thousand years in Chinese Medicine and has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. This bitter herb should only be used if someone is sick with true flu symptoms like high fever and not just a common cold. Sometimes this is given as a single herb into a tea with sugar added to counter the bitterness. I keep many bottles of this in my office during the flu season, and it's another great one to have on hand.
Vitamin C: Eating foods high in vitamin C shorten the duration of a cold or flu, so you can eat more oranges of any of these foods that have more Vitamin C than oranges OR take a supplement.
Zinc: Slows the replication of viruses, but make sure you take a zinc lozenge with food to avoid stomach upset! These are useful when you're symptomatic with a cold or flu.
Turmeric: Here's yet another reason to consistently take a high quality and easy to absorb Turmeric supplement. It has been shown prevent the severe immune reaction of the Flu that contributes to hospitalization and death known cytokine storm. Prevention is the best medicine!
Most of these items can be found on my Amazon collection, so head over and pick up a few to have on hand! These things are a necessity in anyone's medicine cabinet during the cold/flu season, whether or not you get a flu shot.
AND... When the flu hits, STAY HOME! Rest. Hydrate. Repeat.
* PS. Always see your doctor for health information and to check if supplements and herbs are right for you! This is not medical advice.