The “best” flu remedy seems to vary by who you talk to. Some people think that certain over-the-counter medications are the best way to get relief. Others feel homeopathic remedies work the best. Still others feel that only their doctor can help make them make the appropriate choice.
I catch the flu nearly every year, especially when I see so many patients in my surgery. I’ve tried over-the-counter medications, some homeopathic remedies which can often help. Below I’ve listed some common, and some not so common remedies for the flu. Some of the remedies are homeopathic; others involve taking over-the counter medications; while others are prescription. Of course, in bad cases you should always go to your GP.
1) This first item is more of a suggestion to keep yourself from getting sick again rather than a remedy but I think it’s a really good tip. Put your toothbrush in a cup with hydrogen peroxide in it to prevent you from re-infecting yourself (especially if you have a cold). Toothbrushes are a haven for germs and the hydrogen peroxide will kill the bacteria on your toothbrush. You may decide to put your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide every day to kill the bacteria that accumulate.
2) In addition to putting your toothbrush in a cup of hydrogen peroxide you may want to put a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ears. It can help kill flu (or cold) germs. Sometimes the hydrogen peroxide will sting a little. The process is to put a few drops in one ear with a cotton ball or a Q-tip. After a few minutes drain the excess fluid out onto a Kleenex or paper towel. Then do the same thing in the other ear. Repeat the process after an hour or two. Continue to repeat until the hydrogen peroxide doesn’t bubble when it’s put into the ear (usually after 2 or 3 times). The hydrogen peroxide is said to be most effective if it’s used as soon as possible after getting sick.
3) Elderberry extract can lessen the duration of the flu according to studies done in Israel. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or herbalist for advice on how much and how often to take it, and also to make sure it will not interfere with any other medications or supplements you may already be taking.
4) Boneset is another herb said to help lessen the intensity and duration of the flu. It is usually added to boiled water, along with honey and lemon (to make it easier to drink) and then sipped. Again, consult with your doctor, pharmacist or herbalist for the recommended dosage.
5) Oscillococcinum is a popular homeopathic/natural product taken to help with the flu symptoms of body aches and pains, fever, and chills. One of the reasons it is so popular is that it does not cause drowsiness. Naturoksinum is another natural flu remedy available. It is touted as being able to cut the severity of flu symptoms in half. It is one of the most popular flu remedies in France and is available for purchase in the United States.
6) Echinacea is another popular natural remedy for the flu. Again, because it is an herbal product, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or herbalist to make sure it is safe for you to take and that it does not interfere with any other medications or supplements you are currently taking.
7) Tamiflu and Relenza are two prescription medications available for treating the flu. For either medication to work best it should be taken with two days of the onset of flu symptoms. Both Tamiflu and Relenza work by preventing the flu virus from infecting cells in the body that are still healthy, and they both work against influenza A and B.
8) Drink as many fluids are you can when you have the flu. Drink health juices such as mangosteen, noni, goji, aloe vera, or acai berry. They are not only great juices to drink if you get the flu, but they can also help prevent it because the juices are good at boosting a person’s immune system. My personal health juice of choice is a mangosteen juice. It tastes great and helps me feel better overall. Avoid drinks with caffeine because caffeinated drinks act as mild diuretics. Water is the best liquid but can be hard for someone who feels sick to drink enough of. Other good choices of liquid are clear juices, Gatorade (or any of the other sports drinks available) as well as flavored water and Pedialyte. When I was a child and had the flu my Mom always gave me 7-up to drink. I could drink it without feeling sick to my stomach and it tasted good so I was able to drink enough of it to keep myself from getting dehydrated.
9) There are several products available to use in your bath or even your shower to help with the symptoms of the flu. Abra Bath for colds and the flu is a product you add to bath water. It is said to help relieve congestion, reduce body aches, and help relieve the chills associated with the flu. The makers of Sudafed offer a product called Sudacare Shower Soothers. They are tablets that react with warm shower water to create vapors of eucalyptus, menthol, and camphor to help with congestion.
10) Nasal sprays to help relieve flu symptoms are available over the counter. One product is called Flu Relief. Nasal sprays aren’t as popular as most other remedies though because many people dislike using nasal sprays.
11) Fever, headaches, and aching muscles are common symptoms of the flu. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen, both available over the counter can help lessen the pain.
12) A persistent cough may be present when a person has the flu (http://www.microflu.com/flusymptoms/). There are many over the counter cough medicines, such as Robitussin (which has specific formulas of its products for helping with flu symptoms), to help quiet a cough associated with the flu.
13) Congestion is another symptom that a person may get with the flu. An oral decongestant can help loosen the congestion. Again there are many over the counter products available to fight flu symptoms such as congestion. Vick’s vapor rub can also help ease congestion.
14) A sore throat can be another bothersome symptom of the flu. Throat lozenges or sprays can help with the pain. I gargle with warm salt water every hour when my throat is sore. It’s a remedy my Mom used when I was little. It worked for me then and it still works for me now.
15) Rest is a very important part of fighting the flu. Your body needs rest to help it fight the infection in your body. So give in to that urge to cuddle up under the covers and rest. You’re likely to feel better faster if you do.
Always remember that the flu (depending on what strain you have contracted) can be a life-threatening illness if not treated properly. Don’t be afraid to contact your doctor if your symptoms don’t start to get better in a few days or if they are very severe.
Another thing to remember when you have the flu (or are sick with anything else) is to only treat the symptoms you have. There are lots of over-the-counter products available to treat flu symptoms. Many of those products relieve multiple symptoms. But sometimes you don’t have all the symptoms that particular medication treats. Look for products that treat the symptoms you have, but nothing more. You don’t want to over-medicate yourself.