If you’re stuck in bed running a high fever and feeling sorry for yourself, be assured that there are effective, natural flu remedies within arm’s reach right now.
Firstly, make sure you are treating the right condition: Natural cough remedies(opens in new tab), natural cold remedies(opens in new tab) and natural headache remedies(opens in new tab) will help some of your symptoms, but the flu can be more severe and may well require something more specific.
Flu differs from colds insofar as cold symptoms normally only affect the nose and throat, whereas flu affects you more widely and is accompanied by aches and pains and exhaustion, making it difficult to cope with activities of everyday living.
Many people start by taking paracetamol and/or ibuprofen, and for good reason – they will provide effective relief for aches and pains and will help to reduce your temperature if you have a fever. Some people prefer to avoid synthetic painkillers such as these due to interactions with other medications they are taking or potential side effects – high doses of paracetamol can be toxic to the liver and ibuprofen can cause gastrointestinal problems. Others take painkillers but seek extra help from natural remedies. While this is generally safe, you should always read the leaflet included inside any medicines and seek advice from a pharmacist if you’re unsure.
This is the number one rule of flu recovery. There are many benefits of drinking water(opens in new tab) when you’re healthy, but it’s even more important when you’re unwell, as flu symptoms such as a fever, cough, diarrhoea and vomiting and a loss of appetite can all contribute to dehydration.
Ensuring your body gets enough fluids helps your body regulate its temperature and minimises nasal irritation. It can also improve a headache, if you have one: in a study(opens in new tab) of 102 men, almost half of those who drank more water reported headache improvement, while only 25% of the men in the control group – who did not drink any more than usual – reported this effect.
Increase Your Antioxidant Intake
When poorly, low appetite may make eating challenging. However, if you do feel like food, consume some berries, which are high in antioxidants. This will help to boost the immune system(opens in new tab) and aid a quick recovery.
One review study(opens in new tab) concluded that treating flu with both antivirals and antioxidants is the best treatment for patients with severe influenza-associated complications.
Avoid Foods High In Histamine
In the same vein, if one of your flu symptoms is a headache, or you have a history of migraines, it’s a good idea to reduce your intake of foods containing histamine. This may help to reduce symptoms because histamine can be a migraine trigger. Foods high in histamine include alcohol, red meat and aged cheese.
Diet alone can cause histamine levels to rise so high that someone with a histamine intolerance experiences allergy-like symptoms without having an allergic reaction,. A histamine-related headache is usually accompanied with tearing of the eyes, nasal congestion and/or runny nose, facial sweating and/or a sense of agitation.
Bacteria and viruses thrive at cooler temperatures, so if you’ve got the flu it’s vital you stay warm and dry. One Yale University study(opens in new tab) found that the cold virus replicated faster when the temperature in the nose of mice dipped below the core body temperature of 37C. At a cooler temperature of 33C, key immune system proteins could not function properly, which allowed the cold virus to reproduce and spread in airway cells.
If confined to bed, a good old-fashioned hot water bottle can be very helpful, as well as comforting.