It’s that time again – flu season. It seems as though almost everyone I know is coming down with the flu, and it doesn’t look pretty. The typical flu season occurs in January or February when cold weather drives people indoors and into small confined areas with each other. But it is not atypical to see flu season start as early as October or go as late as May.
There are many ways to help you prevent getting the flu if you are surrounded by others who may be contagious. Most people are aware of these tactics such as washing your hands regularly, wearing a face mask if you are in high risk areas, eating food high in nutrients and getting plenty of water. But what do you do when you contract the flu after taking all the proper measures? Here are some tips for helping to treat your flu symptoms naturally and getting back on your feet in record time.
If your flu symptoms include severe coughing and mucus, herbal steam inhalation can be a huge relief. To do this, put boiling or very hot water into a bowl, add a few drops of herbal essential oils such as thyme, rosemary, eucalyptus, or tea tree into the water and breathe in the steam for 5 – 10 min. You can put a towel over your head to help keep the steam directed toward your face. Be careful though as steam can burn, so use caution with very hot water.
The Wet Sock Treatment
Also known as the Cold Sock Treatment and the Freezing Sock Treatment, this scary sounding technique can be a godsend to anyone with congestion in their chest or head. This treatment involves taking a pair of wool or cotton socks, getting them wet and sticking them in the freezer until they are very cold or close to frozen. Before you go to bed at night, put the frozen/cold socks on your feet, then put a pair of dry cotton or wool socks on over the frozen socks and immediately go to bed (you will be wearing 2 pairs of socks on each foot at this time). The initial shock of putting on the cold socks will last for a couple of minutes, but is relieved as your feet start to warm up. This may sound unpleasant, but what it is doing is helping blood to move from your upper body (head and torso) to your feet to warm them. This helps promote blood movement in the upper body and therefore reduces congestion. From the reduced congestion, you will be able to sleep better and easier that night, and when you wake up your feet will be surprisingly warm, cozy, and dry!
Vitamins are very important when you come down with the flu. The best vitamin for helping the body to fight the flu virus is vitamin C. Doses of 1,000 – 2,000 mg every couple of hours can help people feel relief within the day. Vitamin A can also be used temporarily for the flu. A good combination of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc (usually called ACES + zinc) is found in most drug stores, and is the perfect blend of nutrients to help fight off your flu!
There are many herbs that are helpful for treating the flu. The most potent and probably most studied, is an herb called Andographis, or in Chinese medicine Chuan Xin Lian. This herb has very strong anti-viral effects, and most people will start to feel better within a couple of hours of taking it. This herb is commonly found in herbal formulas with other anti-viral herbs at most health food stores. Another great Chinese herbal formula to help fight the symptoms of the flu is Yin Chiao (or Yin Qiao). This formula is extremely helpful when there is a fever with chills and a sore throat or cough. Of course if you want to include virus fighting herbs in your meals, mushrooms are a great way to do that. They are usually strong immune regulators and they can help your body fight a virus.
Although these remedies are great for most people with general flu symptoms, additional medical attention should be sought out if complications from the flu arise or if symptoms get worse. Difficulty breathing, changes in skin texture, severe loss of fluids through vomiting or diarrhea can all be signs of a serious complication from the flu such as pneumonia or dehydration. Also, populations such as seniors, children, and people with compromised immune systems or other chronic health conditions need to be under the careful eye of a doctor if they want to manage their flu symptoms with natural therapies.
If you have any questions about other natural therapies for treating cold and flu, or if you have other questions on how to prepare yourself for this year’s flu season, call our office today to schedule a free 10 minute consult with one of our physicians.
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