The flu, or more formally, influenza, is a virus causing a variety of miserable symptoms. While tincture of time and some symptom suppressing over the counter medications usually seems the only option, there are a number of wonderful natural remedies that relieve flu symptoms AND shorten the duration of the flu.
Flu symptoms include sore throat, cough, runny nose, sinus congestion, body aches, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, malaise and fever. Home remedies like apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and cayenne pepper can alleviate multiple symptoms as well as bring healing.
“The Flu” Versus “The Stomach Flu”
The flu and the stomach flu are both caused by a virus and the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. But “the flu” is a nickname for “influenza,” and “the stomach flu” is a nickname for “gastroenteritis.” In the world of natural remedies, some of the useful treatments will overlap. But the diseases are not the same and neither are the symptoms. The stomach flu is usually shorter lived than influenza. Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea (typical of the stomach flu) do come along with influenza. For specific stomach flu remedies, see this page.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a wonderful flu remedy. Add 2 tablespoons to a glass of water and drink this tonic several times a day. The apple cider vinegar helps to alkalize the body, relieving many flu symptoms all at once. It is commonly taken for fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, cough and congestion. Often when you have the flu, a hot drink is especially comforting. Apple cider vinegar can be added to hot apple cider, green tea or any other herbal tea. Sweeten with honey. Honey also exhibits antiviral activity and is useful in healing if used in moderation.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Watch Earth Clinic’s video on 3 simple but effective ways to use peroxide to prevent the flu. It works!
Hydrogen Peroxide in the Ears
Hydrogen peroxide kills germs in the ears. Adding a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide to each ear and letting it fizz for a few minutes will help to clean your ears of germs and even wax. Hydrogen peroxide in the ears will also help reduce the risk of a secondary ear infection from the flu virus.
Hydrogen Peroxide in the Lungs (Inhalation Therapy)
Oftentimes the cough associated with the flu is especially debilitating. It can keep you awake at night and is usually the last symptom to resolve. Hydrogen peroxide is added to am empty nasal sprayer. The nasal sprayer is aimed at the back of the throat, sprayed and inhaled. This gets the hydrogen peroxide into the lungs to kill germs and bring extra oxygen where it is needed. You will find more details about this method on this page.
Hydrogen Peroxide in the Sinuses
Sinus congestion associated with the flu can make a headache worse and put you at risk for a secondary infection in the sinuses. Using a neti pot with hydrogen peroxide, water and sea salt will clear out the sinuses and kill germs in them.
- 6 ounces distilled or boiled and cooled water
- 1/2 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Mix these three ingredients together and add them to your neti pot. Flush out your sinuses two or three times day. If you do not have a neti pot, you can snuff the mixture up into your sinuses from your palm. It will not be quite as effective but will bring some relief anyway.
3. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper powder from your kitchen is a powerful medicine. It can be added to soups or teas. It can be added to warm water and gargled for a sore throat. (1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to 1/4 cup of water.)
Taking raw garlic four times a day is a way to get an all natural antiviral into your body regularly. You can crush your garlic and spread it on toast with honey or coconut oil or add it to your soup.
5. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is useful for a variety of flu symptoms.
For swollen lymph nodes, add 5 drops of peppermint essential oil to 2 teaspoons of castor oil or coconut oil. Massage into swollen lymph nodes several times a day.
Massaging 1 drop of straight peppermint essential oils into the soles of the feet can help cool the body and redue fever. This can be repeated every couple of hours.
Massaging one drop of peppermint essential oil into the back of the neck can help with a headache. It can also be massaged into the temples, but take care not to get the oil too close to the eyes. Sensitive people will want to mix the peppermint essential oil with olive or almond oil before applying to the temples.
For nausea and cough associated with the flu, place one drop of peppermint essential oil onto a cotton ball and place this near your face. You will breath in the peppermint fumes.
6. Coconut Oil
This superfood is famous for its nutrition but it also is a strong antiviral. Organic coconut oil can be taken raw or in foods several times a day for its antiviral properties. We recommend fair trade organic coconut oil if you can find it.
7. Healing Baths
A warm bath with one of the following can sooth your aching body.
- 1 cup epsom salt or
- 1 cup baking soda or
- 1/2 cup baking soda plus 1/4 cup citric acid
Adding a drop or two of peppermint, lavender or eucalyptus essential oil will make the bath all the more pleasant.
Usually the flu is going around in colder months when people are getting less sunshine. Since your body uses the sunshine to make vitamin D, a necessary vitamin for your immune system, getting some sunshine when you have the flu, if possible is helpful. If that is impossible, you can use a vitamin D supplement for a couple of weeks. (Long term high doses of vitamin D are not recommended because of the risk of vitamin D toxicity.)
If you have the flu your symptoms will probably force some rest on you. Listen to your body! You need the rest. Your body uses rest time to heal. Don’t take over the counter pain and fever reducer so you can go to work or school. Not only will you heal more quickly if you stay home, you will avoid spreading the disease to others.
When you have the flu, you need to have a light but nutritious diet. Fresh fruit, lightly steamed vegetables, small servings of whole grains and soups are excellent choices for food. Avoid cream (dairy) based soups. Homemade chicken soup is ideal. If you buy soup at the store look for a healthy variety without corn syrup or msg.
Apple Cider Vinegar Flu Tea
This tea is a delightful way to get your doses of apple cider vinegar, honey and cayenne pepper.
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tablespoons of honey
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- hot water
A hot tea sounds like a reasonable recipe for the flu. But, how about Flu Fudge? Yes, you can make a fudge with delicious natural foods that have anti-flu properties.
Spicy Flu Fudge
- 1 cup organic coconut oil
- 5 teaspoons raw honey
- 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Melt coconut oil. Stir in honey. Stir in cacao powder, sea salt and cayenne pepper. Pour into a small pan lined with wax paper. Refrigerate. Break into pieces. Store in the refrigerator. If you make this into 16 pieces, each piece has the equivalent of 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, which is considered one dose.
Coconut oil and honey and cayenne have antiviral activity. Cacao powder has a multitude of nutrients and can even help a cough!
Do you have a natural remedy for the flu? We would love to hear about it! Continue reading to learn which remedies or supplements our readers used to kick their flu fast!