12 Natural remedies for colds and the flu

The incidence of respiratory borne illnesses is skyrocketing thoughout the country.  Outbreaks of Influenza A are increasing each month and there isn’t much your doctor can do about it.  Tamaflu, if given within the first 48 hours may help lessen the duration of the symptoms, but there are some excellent natural ways to boost your immune system and help you combat the viruses.  Try these flu natural remedies from Dr. Josh Axe to help relieve your symptoms.

1. Vitamin C (1,000 mg 3–4x daily)

  • Vitamin C helps with immune system function and boosts white blood cells.
  • Take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily to ward off a cold or the flu and up to 4,000 milligrams daily when you are experiencing symptoms.
  • Eat whole fruits and vegetables.

2. Vitamin D (2,000 IU daily)

  • Vitamin D is produced in the body by sunlight and regulates the expression of over 2,000 genes, including those of the immune system. Recent research shows that low vitamin D levels are linked to higher rates of cold, flu and respiratory infections. (4)
  • Many physicians believe that current recommended daily amounts of vitamin D are far too low, and that 2,000 rather than 200-400 units per day is a better choice.
  • To treat cold or flu, take 2,000 units per kilogram of body weight once a day for three days.
  • You can also order home testing kits to test your vitamin D levels.

3. Echinacea (1,000 mg 2–3x daily)

  • This herb can help your body fight off infections, but it is best to take it at the first sign of illness.
  • An extract of echinacea was tested in a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial in 2013. Researchers found that the echinacea effectively treated respiratory tract infections in the short- and long-term, and didn’t cause the same resistance as a popular flu medication, oseltamivir, often causes when treating this illness. (5)
  • Echinacea acts as an anti-inflammatory, which can help reduce bronchial symptoms of cold and flu.
  • Echinacea directly attacks yeast and other kinds of fungus.
  • Different preparations have different concentrations of echinacea. Some common preparations and dosages include:
  • Tablets containing 6.78 milligrams of echinacea extract, two tablets three times a day.
  • 900 milligrams of Echinacea root tincture daily.
  • Five to six cups of echinacea tea on the first day of symptoms, and then 1 cup a day thereafter.

4. Elderberry (10 mL daily)

  • It is believed that this herb can deactivate the flu virus and naturally boost immunity.
  • The flowers and berries of elderberry are said to boost the immune system, treat flu and relieve sinus pain.
  • Elderberry does seem to attack flu viruses and reduce bronchial inflammation. A preliminary study found that it reduced severity and length of flu symptoms when given at the first signs of symptoms.

5. Oregano Oil (500 mg 2x daily)

6. Zinc (50–100 mg daily)

  • Zinc supports immune function and has an antiviral effect. (6) It works best when taken at the first sign of illness.
  • Zinc may lessen the symptoms of the cold virus but excessive amounts aren’t good for you. Zinc pills and sprays do not seem to be effective.
  • Take 50–100 milligrams of zinc daily to ward off or treat cold and flu symptoms.

7. Brewer’s Yeast

  • Brewer’s yeast contains B vitamins, chromium and protein. It is used for cold, flu and other respiratory tract infections.
  • Brewer’s yeast stimulates intestinal enzymes to help relieve diarrhea, fights bacteria in the intestines and improves immune response to viruses that infect the lungs.
  • Research has found that Brewer’s yeast reduces the risk of getting a cold or the flu and helps symptoms dissipate more quickly.

8. Essential Oils for Flu

  • Rubbing peppermint and frankincense essential oil into the neck and bottoms of the feet can naturally support the immune system.  Also, clove oil can protect the body against infection and can speed recovery from the flu.

9. Chiropractic Care for Flu Prevention

  • During the 1918 flu epidemic, flu patients that received chiropractic care survived much more readily than those that didn’t. (7)
  • A 2011 study showed some promise for chiropractic care and its potential to help boost the immune system. (8)

10. Probiotics

  • Restoring the beneficial bacteria in your gut can help boost your immune system considerably.

11. Get Fresh Air

  • Indoor winter environments can be a source of concentrated toxins and germs. The dry air we inhale as we heat our homes during the winter makes airways more reactive and sensitive to viruses.
  • An added bonus to time spent outdoors in the winter is the extra bit of sunlight you receive.

12. Top Foods for Flu Recovery:

  • Light, easy to digest foods: Include soups with bone broth, cooked vegetables or herbal teas to help with digestion. Don’t force yourself to eat.
  • Water: Adequate hydration is the key to flushing out the virus from your system. Fluid helps your body to flush bacteria and viruses from your system. Drink approximately half your body weight in ounces daily of either spring water or reverse osmosis filtered water. Green and black teas are potent immune system-boosters and antioxidants. Try to drink at least 8 ounces every two hours.
  • Hot water with lemon, honey, and cinnamon:  Honey and cinnamon  helps prevent mucus buildup and keeps you hydrated.
  • Ginger: Make a ginger tea and add raw honey.
  • Garlic and onions: Both of these vegetable help boost immune function.