Winter can be long, and dreary. Getting sick can make winter seem even longer.
Each year the media hype surrounding the flu seems to get worse, there is a lot of fear mongering and bullying about the flu vaccine. I have never gotten the “flu vaccine” and I have only had the flu one time in my life. (I had the flu when I was pregnant, and thanks to homeopathy it was not a big deal for me). If you research a concept called “The Original Antigenic Sin”, and how it relates to the flu vaccine, you might understand why I do not rely on the flu vaccine for protection.
However; homeopathy is not the only trick I have up my sleeve for flu prevention. Here are 10 ways to prevent the flu “naturally”.
Disclaimer – I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. I am simply sharing my personal experiences.
1. Vitamin D
The swine flu outbreak in 2010 caused a lot of panic. I was living in Texas at the time, and my job involved traveling to many different schools to teach science. A few of the schools I had to teach at were hit pretty hard with the flu. Instead of getting the flu shot I went to the GNC store and purchased Vitamin D supplements. I don’t recall the dose I took, but I did not get the flu. Of course this is purely anecdotal, but there are scientific studies that support the use of vitamin D to prevent respiratory illness.
This study suggests that vitamin D3 supplementation during the winter may reduce the incidence of influenza A, especially in specific subgroups of schoolchildren. Source
A new global collaborative study has confirmed that vitamin D supplementation can help protect against acute respiratory infections. The study, a participant data meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials including more than 11,000 participants, has been published online in The BMJ. Source
So which vitamin D supplement should you take? I found that my body does not respond well to the powdered capsules of vitamin D. It turns out that is not unusual.
A study conducted by Life Extension shows a fat-soluble form of vitamin D increased blood levels by nearly 30%. Source
My kids and I take Cod Liver Oil daily to obtain vitamin D, and it seems to keep our immune system very strong. However, I know Cod Liver Oil is not for everyone. These vitamin D drops have good reviews, and should be effective at raising vitamin D levels since the delivery system is an oil not a powder.
Vitamin D drops – find them here
I truly believe that adequate vitamin D levels are an important part of any flu prevention strategy.
You can even test your vitamin D levels at home, I have used this test a few times to try to determine the best way to keep my vitamin D levels at a good level.
2. Frequent Hand Washing
It may seem obvious but you would be surprised how often and how easily our hands get contaminated with germs. I read a book years ago called “The Secret Life of Germs”, in which the author discussed the nasty germs that were cultured from a public phone. (A flesh eating bacteria was one of them). I learned a trick from the book with regards to bathrooms. After washing your hands do not touch the handle of the bathroom door with your bare hands, use a paper towel. Not everyone washes their hands properly and many viruses/bacteria end up on that bathroom door handle. (If there are no paper towels, then wash your hands again as soon as you can, before rubbing your eyes or touching your face). When I was teaching at many “infected” schools during the “swine flu” outbreak, I kept hand sanitizer in my lab coat pocket and I used it frequently.
With young kids the hand washing strategy needs to be used in conjunction with immune support. I can discreetly use hand sanitizer after the meet and greet at church. However, we were always surrounded by snotty noses and sneezes at the library “story time”. Immune system support is really important with young kids.
Hand sanitizer – find it here.
3. Avoiding Sugar
Did you know that sugar can suppress your white blood cells?
“Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of two- and-a-half 12-ounce cans of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. In contrast, the ingestion of complex carbohydrates, or starches, has no effect on the immune system”. Source
Perhaps it is not a coincidence many people get sick shortly after the holidays. Consuming a lot of sugary treats can weaken the body’s defense mechanisms.
4. Elderberry Syrup
I try to make a batch of Elderberry syrup every month during the winter. I can’t say I have been very consistent with this. If I know there is a really nasty “bug” circulating in the area, then I make a batch. (Pre-made elderberry syrup can be pretty pricey).
Here is how I make my Elderberry Syrup. http://naturallymindedmother.com/elderberry-syrup/
Not all homeopaths will recommend using a nosode to prevent the flu. In fact, most will say to be prepared with remedies and to treat the symptoms as they arise.
However, there is a homeopathic remedy that can be used to prevent the flu, and it is called Influenzinum.
I used Influenzinum 30c last year before my family went to Disneyland. (Who wants to be sick on a family vacation, right)? I gave my family a dose on the way to the airport. We were exposed to the flu, or a “flu-like illness” on our trip. Two people who stayed in the same room with us came down with the “flu”, which lasted quite a while. My family did not really get sick, just a few temporary symptoms. My husband and I had a slight headache for a few hours, my youngest daughter had no symptoms, and my daughter Lily had a fever /headache for one day and a few hives on her arm. (It was her birthday, and she was allowed to indulgence in sweets, so she was a little vulnerable because of the sugar. But she was literally over it in one day).
I think that treating the symptoms as they arise is the proper way to treat the flu homeopathically. But there are some situations where prophylactic treatment might be warranted. (Ahem Disney Vacation). I am grateful to have different options available to me. I did use Influenzinum after I caught the flu when I was pregnant and it really did help me recover quickly with no complications. http://naturallymindedmother.com/natural-flu-treatment/
Influenzinum 30c – find it here
You can order a “flu kit”, which include homeopathic remedies for flu recovery here.
There is another homeopathic remedy I keep in my first aid kit for the “flu season” and that is Oscillococcinum. It is a homeopathic flu remedy. Some people use this remedy for prevention, but I have not used it for that purpose. Typically this remedy is used in the early stages of a “flu-like” illness. Oscillococcinum – find it here
Pure bovine colostrum is produced during the first 6 hours after birth. It is LOADED with immune boosting compounds. Colostrum is something I am still learning about, but I do know it is a great way to strengthen the immune system. It certainly could not hurt to add it to your tool kit. (I did find a few scientific studies that suggest Colostrum may help prevent the flu).
Colostrum, both in healthy subjects and high-risk cardiovascular patients, is at least 3 times more effective than vaccination to prevent flu and is very cost-effective. Source
In this study, we isolated the acidic protein fraction of bovine colostrum (AFC, isoelectric point <5) by anion-exchange chromatography, and investigated the effect of its dietary intake on influenza A (H1N1) virus infection. 100% of mice infected with 1 LD50 of the virus survived when administered AFC for 14 days prior to infection, compared with 33% survival when administered phosphate buffered saline (PBS). Moreover, consumption of AFC reduced the weight loss associated with infection. We propose that dietary intake of AFC has a prophylactic effect on influenza A virus infection. Source
You can find good quality colostrum here
7. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and it is an important vitamin for keeping the immune system healthy. Humans cannot make ascorbic acid, we must obtain it from our diet. The immune system is well supported by vitamin C.
Food based Vitamin C sources, such as Camu Camu and Acerola Cherries, are absorbed well by the body.
It is well known now that probiotics strengthen the immune system. However, probiotics are not all created equally, and there are strains of probiotic bacteria that are known for preventing respiratory illness. One strain is L reuteri.
This study shows this strain of bacteria, L reuteri, is exceptional at preventing diarrhea and respiratory tract infections
I gave this probiotic to both of my kids when they were infants, even though they were both exclusively breast fed. They were not colicky, but this probiotic is supposed to reduce gas with babies, (and it really did). I think supplementing with L reuteri is a great way to protect against respiratory tract infections. From what I have read, people do not die from the flu, they usually die from pneumonia. I see probiotics as a way to prevent this type of complication from the flu.
Of course fermented foods are a great way to keep the immune system strong, that is a given. This probiotic just seems to be specific for preventing respiratory issues.
L reuteri – find it here.
9. Reduce Dairy Consumption
Dairy, especially A1 dairy, can cause your body to produce mucus. (link). The wrong kind of dairy can produce a lot of inflammation in the body, so it is a good idea to reduce consumption during the flu season. If you are already sick, eliminating dairy may speed up your recovery.
10. Fever Therapy
Yes, you read that correctly. Last year I watched a video in which a homeopath discussed taking a very hot shower at the beginning of a flu-like illness, to simulate a fever. Fevers are a part of the body’s natural defense mechanism. Suppressing a fever with drugs will actually prolong the illness.
I knew that fevers are beneficial, and should not be suppressed, but I never thought of trying to simulate a fever to increase recovery time.
This article explains how to take a “fever bath”, to stimulate the immune system.
I didn’t include this one on my list because I have no personal experience with it and the studies I found were negative, which is surprising. Many people claim that Echinacea helps if they take some at the first sign of illness. (This was my understanding of how it works; it is supposed to stimulate the release of white blood cells). I recently bought an Echinacea tincture to keep in my medicine cabinet “just in case”, but I could not include it in my top 10 at this time.
Echinacea root extracts for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections: a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial. Source
A randomized controlled clinical trial of the effect of fluid extract of Echinacea purpurea on the incidence and severity of colds and respiratory infections. Source
So those are some natural flu prevention tips I have picked up over the years. I hope you find these tips helpful.