The FLU, it’s usually accompanied by exhaustion, fevers, aching bones, snotty nose and if you’re really unlucky it might even land in your chest and give you a nice productive cough with lots of phlegm. Then, it may seem to disappear and all of a sudden wham! It creeps back up on you, just as you thought you were getting better, which reduces your energy levels, your emotional wellbeing and forces you back into bed to rest up and heal. This can be SO frustrating (and scary!).
What can you do?
But Please be aware that you CAN’T take antibiotics for the flu because a flu is a virus (not a bacteria), which means antibiotics won’t work on it. It’s important to see your GP or local doctor to test whether you are dealing with a virus or bacteria if you are feeling unwell.
The Good News
There are a lot of supportive things you can do to help your body recover from the Flu and prevent it!
- Early nights, aim for at least 8 hrs sleep at night and try to be in bed and asleep by 10pm if possible. The body does most of its healing between 10pm and 2am so this is an important time to be asleep! Take catnaps whenever you can & have afternoon siestas. Leave your blinds open so natural sunlight can come in in the morning & set an alarm to get up by 6-7am so that you can watch the sunrise for 10 mins without sunglasses on and let your eyes adjust to the nature light, this resets your circadian rhythms and helps build the feel good neurotransmitter ‘serotonin’.
- Clear your schedule & book in “You time”: watch movies, catch up on book reading, do something creative like artwork, writing, painting, playing music…whatever is easy to access from bed!
- Tell some jokes, or watch some stand-up comedy (online, in bed) laughing has been shown to boost the immune system
- Avoid alcohol – alcohol is usually full of sugar and sugar can give the virus extra fuel and feed it, as well as compromising immune strength.
- Reduce or avoid caffeine – caffeine triggers the fight or flight response of your nervous system, utilising essential nutrients (depleting your system) and reducing your adrenal energy, which is needed to fight the virus.
- Hot baths with 1x cup of Epsom salts and essential oils 5x drops each of thyme, orange & frankincense. Unwinding with warm bath with 1x cup epsom salts before bed is really nurturing as well.
- Rub thyme oil onto the soles of your feet at night before bed, put socks on and keep your feet warm.
- You can do infusions to help remove congestions & phlegm from sinuses and chest by boiling water and putting it into a stainless steel or ceramic bowl, adding 5-10 drops of tea tree, eucalyptus or thyme oil and placing your head over the steaming water with a towel over your head. Be prepared with a box of tissues as this technique really moves congestion fast!
- Keep warm, especially don’t spend long periods of time in cold water or outside in the cold elements, rug up and stay warm.
- Reduce screen time by setting boundaries (or an alarm) to turn off all screens (computers, smart phones, TVs etc) from 8pm-8am to help reduce electromagnetic frequencies that can interfere with immune function. When using screens use a blue light filter like ‘flux’. leave blinds open so natural sunlight comes in the morning -Set alarm and get up by 7-8am – look towards the sun for 10 mins without sunglasses on and let your eyes adjust to the nature light – this resets your circadian rhythms .
- Legs up the wall. Lay on your back and slide your legs up the wall and rest for about 5 mins. This is really restoring to the adrenal glands, helping you to build internal energy to help build your immune function.
- Meditation: guided meditation and deep breathing daily can help to reduce stress and adrenal fatigue, boosting the immune system and helping you surrender into the restful state that is required for healing.
- Increase water intake! This is really essential to help your body stay hydrated and clear waste from your system. Try for at least 2 litres per day even if you aren’t feeling thirsty, you may like to make warm water and add ginger, lemon and raw honey to it to help keep up your water intake while recovering from the flu. If you can tolerate it add fresh raw garlic and chilli to warm drinks to add an immune boosting kick.
- Eat warm, cooked, easy-to-digest foods like fresh soups (not out of a packet or can please!), stews and slow cooked casseroles.
- Keep red meat to a minimum. Chicken and fish are ok as well as bone broths of all types.
- Whole foods only! No refined, processed foods or sugar (virus’s love simple sugars like chocolate, lollies, cakes & biscuits!) You will more than likely be craving sugar (click here to see my sugar blog) though as the virus wants to grow and spread in your body. It’s trying to take over & simple sugars feed the virus with fuel, so being careful with the type of sugar intake you go for … you want to stunt its growth. Try whole pieces of fruit or a maximum of 1x fruit or veggie juice per day if you need a sweet treat. A few pieces of organic dried fruit is ok as well.
- Fruits: increase berries, passionfruit, pawpaw, mango, pineapple, oranges, citrus (especially eating the seeds if you can handle the bitterness), kiwi fruit, and banana.
- Probiotic rich foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut to be had in moderation, 1x serve per day.
- Avoid the top inflammatory foods: gluten (wheat), dairy, corn, soy, canola oil, eggs and pork.
- Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water (cold or warm is fine), coconut water, electrolyte powders if you can’t quench your thirst can be good.
- Drink warm herbal teas as much as you like! Especially ginger, turmeric, lemon with some organic raw honey. Depending on your tolerance, add some fresh garlic and chilli to your warm drinks.
Turmeric Elixir (makes 750ml)
- 100g fresh ginger
- 100g fresh turmeric
- 1 whole lemon (skin on)
- Honey – organic and raw, to taste (approx. 2x Tablespoons)
Chop ginger, turmeric & lemon into small pieces and blend all of the ingredients together well in a food processor until smooth. You can strain it through a sieve or leave it chunky and enjoy 100mls 3x per day before meals or in between meals as a hot drink.
It’s important to assess what supplements you are already taking and not overdose your system by adding too much. Please only add any of the following recommendations once you checked in with a healthcare practitioner first. If you are unsure, please send me a message and I can have a look at it for you;
- Vitamin C powder at least 1000mg 3x per day (reduce the dose if it give you the runs)
- Zinc – zinc citrate or picolinate 30mg in morning and at night before bed
- Probiotics – A broad spectrum probiotic can be helpful to keep immune function high. Some people who don’t do well on probiotics might find that a saccharomyces boulardii probiotic is better for them.
- Garlic & horseradish capsules – dose 2x caps 3 x per day until you start to feel better.
- Vitamin D (spending 15 mins laying in the sun exposing most of your skin can help to boost natural Vitamin D levels) supplementing with 1000IU per day of vitamin D can boost immune function.
- Herbal medicine: Some herbs have contraindications with medications and medical conditions so always check in with your practitioner and let them know exactly what you are taking before you start any herbal medicine.
- Some herbs to consider include: Lomatium, garlic, thyme, myrrh, elderflower, lemon balm, echinacea, olive leaf, andrographis, ginger, garlic, turmeric, passionflower (plus many more!)
- Colloidal silver; Offers health benefits by “boosting” immune function and preventing or treating infections, both common and severe. It can be used as an effective mouthwash for gargling with sore throats, support the removal of ear congestion and sinus congestion.
- Broccoli sprouts – help to switch on our RNF2s which help to a prevent virus from spreading, dose is dependent on the type of broccoli sprouts that you get, so shoot me a message for more info.
Pregnancy & breastfeeding
While pregnant and breastfeeding there are lots of limitations to what supplements & medications can be taken, so here’s a list of all the “food as medicine” that can help all my mumma friends out there if you are struggling with the flu or if you would like some preventative health solutions to help you avoid it!
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – Preferably raw. ACV alkalises the body, and most illnesses can’t thrive in alkaline environments.
- Mix 1-2 tablespoons of ACV into water or tea and drink 3 times a day.
- Gargle ACV to soothe a sore throat.
- Used topically or in a bath, ACV can reduce fever.
- Honey– Raw, local honey is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic.
- Onion– Raw onion has phytochemicals that help keep the respiratory tract open.
- Lemon– Antibacterial. Also helps alkaline the body. Rich in vitamin C.
- Asian Mushrooms(maitake, shitake, reishi) – Antibacterial and antiviral.
- Coconut oil – Antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-fungal.
- Blueberries– High in antioxidants & can help lower fevers and relieve aches and pains.
- Vitamins and minerals – Especially vitamin D, vitamin A from cod liver oil or liver only, vitamin C, zinc (please check with your health care practitioner before you add any new supplements to your regime).
- Clear, unsweetened liquids – Dehydration is more of a concern in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women, so being diligent about staying hydrated is important. Coconut water is the perfect hydrator and will boost your electrolytes.
- Homemade chicken soup – Or simply bone broth from healthy chickens.
- Warm salt water – Use as a gargle for a sore throat.
- Tea – Hot liquids help relieve sore throats and congestion and help prevent dehydration.
- High quality probiotic– Supports general health.
The following herbs can be helpful for flu symptoms, but should not be used in therapeutic amounts during pregnancy. The amount normally found in food is safe and beneficial, contact me if you would like to know more about how much you can use and how to get it into your food:
- Cayenne powder– Antimicrobial, analgesic, and expectorant.
- Garlic– Antiviral, antibiotic, and antiseptic.
- Ginger – Antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Good for upset tummy.
- Thyme– Antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, and astringent. Great for respiratory infections, coughs, and upset tummy.
- Cinnamon– Antiviral, and antibiotic.
- Kinesiology is the study of the mechanics of body movements as well as mental, emotional and spiritual function. This can be a supportive way to find out how to best support your body’s individual needs in recovery and prevention of the flu.
- Acupuncture can be really helpful to support boosting the immune system and to ensure your body is removing the waste products out of your lymphatic system efficiently.
- Craniosacral treatment works on the central nervous system helping to restore balance to a depleted nervous system, which in turn allows the parasympathetic nervous system to be restored and gives more energy to the immune system to help fight the virus.
- Massage, especially lymphatic style massage or Ayurvedic style detox massage to help support your elimination pathways and boost immune function
- Skin brushing your extremities (arms & legs) towards your heart. This helps to stimulate your lymphatic system to produce more white blood cells and get rid of waste and dead white blood cells.
I hope that you have found this information to be a good head start to getting you back on track while recovering from a virus/flu and even preventing one in the first place.
If you have tried most things on my check lists above and you are still feeling unwell, please get in contact and I can help you to fine tune your approach to healing.
Everyone is completely unique and for that reason an individualised approach to health and healing is always the most effective.
Fevers can be a serious medical condition that can accompany a flu and they need to be monitored closely, so please don’t wait too long to get medical help if you are not feeling well.
Lots of love & good health
Integrative Naturopath & Nutritionist
BHSc (Compl. Med) Adv. Dip (Nat)
PS for your one-on-one naturopathic consultation on Flu prevention and recovery please call Grace on ph 0420451177 to book in or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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