When you've got the flu, you'll do pretty much anything to get rid of it. Fast. But while there are all sorts of pharmaceuticals to "treat" flu symptoms, the most time-honored treatment is to sit back and let your body defeat it on its own. Some integrative health experts also advise using natural remedies to ease your suffering and speed recovery. Try these natural flu remedies including a flu-fighting chicken noodle soup recipe.
Integrative health expert Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., says black elderberry syrup has long been a homemade cold and flu treatment. An elderberry extract, Sambucol, has been found to shorten the duration of flu symptoms. In a study on elderberry extract's efficacy, patients on placebo recovered in six days from the flu while patients taking Sambucol recovered in just two to three days.
According to Dr. Weil, "the active substances in Sambucol believed responsible for its effects are three flavonoids with antiviral properties." Elderberry extract also boosts immunities by boosting immune system cytokines, according to a National Institutes of Health study. While Sambucol appears to be an effective treatment, more research is needed on elderberry extract since the original study was only a small sample, Dr. Weil says.
If your symptoms aren't severe, allow your body's battle against the flu virus to proceed. Symptoms are often a sign of your body fighting off the virus. But if you need relief from your symptoms, try these natural treatments based on which symptoms are affecting you most.
- Aromatic steam or a warm shower can open your airways.
- Drink lots of liquids to keep your respiratory system hydrated.
- Use warm compresses to reduce throbbing in your sinuses.
Cough and sore throat
- Homemade cough syrups can soothe your throat and lessen your cough.
- Drink warm broths with potent spices, which can thin mucous and soothe your throat and lungs.
- Eat ginger, which is anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant and can stimulate interferon, which helps to fight off viruses.
Fever and muscle ache
- Drink lots of fluids. In addition to water and broths, try a natural electrolyte fluid like coconut water. Or try some warm green tea, which also has flu-fighting properties.
- Rest and let your body heal itself. If it doesn't get dangerously or uncomfortably high, allow a fever to progress (if it gets too high or you are concerned, see your doctor). A fever is your body's way of fighting off the virus.
You can also treat mild symptoms with natural cold and cough remedies.
A great way to combine many of the flu-fighting foods is with flu-fighting smoothies or soups. This flu-fighting soup is loaded with flu fighters: sweet potatoes, red peppers, garlic and ginger. And, the steamy broth can also lessen your symptoms. The best part? You can cook it in the slow cooker, which will be easier on your achy body than standing over a stove.
Flu Fighting Chicken Noodle Soup
1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
4 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup red bell peppers, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1-2 teaspoons grated ginger
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
kosher salt, to taste
1/2 pound spaghetti noodles
1 large handful raw spinach leaves
Add everything except the spaghetti noodles and spinach to a six-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Add spinach and spaghetti noodles and cook on high for 15 minutes. Serve.
Adapted from CrockPot 365
Always consult your physician to seek out the best medical advice for you.
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