Natural At-Home Remedies for the Flu: How They Work

The holidays are over and you are probably looking forward to the spring, but this is no time to become lax about personal wellbeing. The flu season is at its height now and even when you are taking care of yourself, it’s still possible to come down with this nasty little bug. And while you’ve probably heard about a lot of different ways to take care of yourself at home, you might not know why these remedies help. Below are tips for a quicker and more comfortable recovery time – along with an explanation of how they can help.

Eat Healthy

Remember, a cold is caused by a virus, so antibiotics will do you no good. However, a healthy diet can help. Try to eat foods that are rich in vitamin C, like citrus foods and bell peppers. Although this vitamin doesn’t prevent the flu, it can help to reduce how bad your symptoms are and how long they last. Another great one to try is that old standby of chicken soup: a study just published in the journal Chest found that chicken soup can help strengthen the immune system and reduce severity of flu symptoms.

Drink Healthy, Too

It’s really important to keep hydrated when you have the flu, especially if you are one of those unlucky people who tend to get nausea and vomiting along with it. Getting enough fluids makes all your body systems work better – including your immune system. Staying hydrated will also thin the mucus in your airways and make it easier to cough them up. Water is great for this and so are herbal tea, juice within reason, and broth. But stay away from caffeine and alcohol until you are feeling better. Both of these can cause you to become more dehydrated.

Take Advantage of Herbal Therapy

Apart from food and drink, herbs also offer a healthy, natural way to treat your flu. Garlic is one of the best choices; it is rich in a compound called allicin, which blocks certain enzymes that can contribute to bacterial or viral infections. Echinacea is more controversial, but in recent years, meta-studies have found that it can help reduce the duration of symptoms. Ginger tea (which treats inflammation and nausea) and honey (which soothes a sore throat and suppresses coughs) also help to make you feel better.

Baby Your Respiratory Tract

When you get the flu, your respiratory tract really has a hard time of it. Babying it a little can help. For one thing, investing in a good humidifier to keep the air moist will really help soothe down those irritated airways – just remember to clean it and change its water daily! Hot showers or baths are another good way to do a steam treatment – and if bathing, try adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the tub to help open your airways even more. Some people use saline nasal spray or a neti pot to keep help clean and soothe their nasal passages and relieve congestion. If you are using a neti pot, however, be sure to boil salt water and let it cool before irrigating: using tap water can cause serious bacterial infections.

Practice Self-Care

Your schedule is crazy busy, but if you can stop yourself from running around and get the rest that your body is screaming for, you will feel much better for it. Rest is a time-proven remedy for many viral infections. If you are a Type A who has difficulty with this, grab your favorite paperback or pull out that crossword puzzle or go on Netflix – distraction can make it easier to pass the time while you recuperate.

So when the flu strikes next, try the tips above to keep yourself comfortable while recovering from it!

Brian Wu
Brian Wu is currently an eighth-year student at the University of Southern California, where he is pursuing his Medical Degree. He currently holds a PhD in integrative biology and disease. He has successfully founded his own company, writing a series of books called Health Stories for Kids.

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