I’m happy to share with you today a few tips and tricks to prevent and treat viral illnesses, including influenza. For some people, prescription medication might be helpful, particularly if the person has severe asthma and other lung conditions, poorly controlled diabetes, and/or neurological problems that make it hard to breath or cough.
However, in my experience as a functional medicine doctor, these home remedies are a great place to start. According to scientific studies, these natural remedies tend to improve symptoms more quickly and shorten the duration of the symptoms of infection by several days more than medications. They are also much safer and much less expensive.
Without further ado, let’s look at natural ways to prevent and treat influenza and viral respiratory infections.
Follow these practices as best you can in order to keep your immune system strong!
- Strive to eat a varied diet full of organic, local, fresh food. Try to avoid GMO’s and processed food such as white flour, sugar, and artificial sweeteners/high fructose corn syrup.
- Incorporate meditation and/or prayer into your daily routine, along with some general relaxation time.
- Get regular exercise and proper rest – most people need about 8 hours.
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold, cough, or the flu. If this is not possible, wash your hands frequently and be sure not to share cups, forks, spoons, tooth brushes, etc.
At the first sign of stuffy nose, sore throat, sinus drainage, cough, body aches or fever take:
Many people reach for packets of Emergen-C, which I do not recommend. Emergen-C has only 500 mg of non-buffered ascorbic acid per packet, and contain sugar, which suppresses the immune system.
Instead, look for powdered, buffered vitamin C and take 2000 mgs, 4 times a day for adults and 500 to 1000mg 4 times a day for children ages 6-12 years. If it causes loose bowels decrease the dose.
Potent C Guide™ by PERQUE is what I recommend to my patients and have available at my office.
You can do this 2 to 3 times a day with a bulb syringe, a neti pot, etc. Nasal irrigation is important because it washes the virus out of your nose. It also washes away the things that cause your nose to swell up. To start, you’ll need to sterilize your neti pot or syringe. Then you can prepare your nasal irrigation solution:
- 8 ounces of filtered or bottled water warmed up to near body temperature (not hot!)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Pinch of baking soda (not baking powder which contains aluminum)
Using the neti pot or syringe, you will tilt your head sideways over the sink and pour half of the solution into your right nostril while breathing through your mouth. Repeat with the other half of the solution into your left nostril.
- “Quick Defense” supplement, made by Gaia Herbs. For adults: take 2 capsules, 5 times a day for 2 days. For children ages 6-12: take 1 capsule, 5 times a day for 2 days.
- High dose of Gaia’s Echinacea Supreme tincture, and Gaia’s Black Elderberry Syrup.
- Androgaphis (herbal remedy) and ginger are also effective.
Continue the above remedies until you feel better, which is often in just 1-3 days if you start at the first sign of infection, versus 7 to 14 days if you wait until you have a full-blown infection.
Over the counter homeopathic remedies can also be helpful and are safe for children. The specific homeopathic remedy depends on the particular symptoms a person is having. Usually, when there is a large outbreak of influenza, there will be one remedy that will be helpful for the vast majority of persons in that area.
I hope these tips were helpful for you! Please feel free to share, and be sure to come say hi to me on social media: @markhochmd!