Prevention of the flu is the best treatment. Learn some of the best evidence-based natural remedies to prevent and treat the flu, as well as remedies that help improve the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.
Your body is a castle, and strengthening its outer walls is the best way to prevent the flu. Many natural remedies can boost your immune system to help protect it against any invader, including the flu virus. These remedies may also be used safely and effectively in conjunction with the flu vaccine.
A word on the flu vaccine
In the Cochrane Review’s 2014 meta-analysis of the influenza vaccine in healthy adults, the authors find this vaccine’s ability to prevent the flu in “healthy adults is small.” On average, at least 71 people would need to be vaccinated to avoid one case of the flu. The Cochrane Review is a conservative group of researchers that look at all the best available evidence on a topic.
If you’re elderly or immunocompromised, the benefit of this vaccine in reducing your risk of contracting the flu is higher.
If you choose to get the flu vaccine, consider using the remedies below to enhance your body’s response to it.
How to prevent the flu
Prevention is the best approach; it’s better to stop the invaders outside the castle rather than once they’ve stormed the walls. To boost your outer defences try the following.
- medicinal mushrooms, such as cordyceps, reishi, or turkey tail—hot-water-extracted or micronized to get the immune-boosting beta-glucans out of the mushroom cell walls
- American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) also helps improve energy and balance blood sugar levels
- astragalus root
- probiotics to boost immunity and help enhance the flu vaccine
- vitamin D; most Canadians are deficient without supplementation
- good quality sleep—preferably seven to nine hours per night
If the invaders are inside your castle walls
Once you’re sick with the flu, then we change strategies.
- licorice root for short-term use only is also great for clearing upper respiratory tract infections and mucus
- garlic, finely minced and left out for 15 minutes before eating, creates more of its active ingredient, allicin, but if you can’t stomach garlic raw, take the extract
- green tea has been shown to inhibit the flu; take the extract for a more potent effect
- vitamins A, C, and E and zinc have been shown to help prevent the flu and enhance immune response to the flu vaccine
- saunas: microbial invaders die under high heat, and our immune system thrives
If these don’t help to strengthen your castle’s defences or fight off the viral invaders, call your health care practitioner to prescribe personalized remedies to best support you.