Well, school is officially IN session and you know what that means, right? Cold and flu season is about to begin. Our family suffered through our first cold virus of the season last weekend and thankfully I had my natural remedies for the common cold on hand to help us. Both my kids recovered in 24-48 hours. I, on the other hand, was hit harder than the rest of the family which tells me my immune system needs some fine tuning this fall. I’ll start adding some immune boosters into my routine on a daily basis and see how I do when we are faced with the next round of viruses.
Now, back to the FLU.
I always think it’s important to have a holistic medicine kit on hand when cold and flu season comes around–it’s always good to be prepared if and when the flu virus strikes. Influenza, or the “flu” is a virus that affects the upper respiratory system (nose, throat, lungs). Accompanied by a fever, the “flu” is no fun. The flu does not usually present complications like a secondary bacterial infection in a healthy individual however the flu is never a walk in the park. The flu generally lasts 3-5 days in a healthy individual. The duration and intensity of the virus often depends on the strength (or weakness) of an individual’s immune function.
What causes the FLU?
The “flu” is caused by a virus called influenza. The influenza virus is very contagious and can pass from person to person through the air via coughs and sneezes, and through hand to hand contact or through objects like door handles, towels or phones.
What is conventional treatment for the FLU?
A healthy child may not see a doctor for the flu unless extreme symptoms present. The flu is a virus and cannot be treated by antibiotics. Unless a secondary bacterial infection presents, the best course of action is rest and natural remedies to support the immune system.
Natural Remedies for the FLU
Light meals to support immune function are best for optimal nourishment during the flu. Chicken soup made with bone broth is best. In fact, if your child comes down with the flu I recommend keeping a pot of bone broth on the stove for a week. Add lots of garlic and ginger to soup for added immune boosting properties. Other nourishing food and drink options include steamed vegetables topped with a teaspoon of coconut oil, fresh orange slices, water with lemon or lime, fresh green juices or smoothies, fermented beverages like Kevita (a cultured coconut water). Try serving your child hot ginger tea made with real ginger. Grate or slice a teaspoon of ginger in a cup and fill with boiling water. Let tea steep for 10 minutes and then add a small amount of raw manuka honey and a squeeze of lemon. Additionally avoid immune system BUSTERS that compromise the immune system and tax digestive function like; refined sugar, damaged fats, pasteurized dairy, food sensitivities/allergies, pesticides and insecticides, processed foods, and stress.
Herbs and Supplements
Elderberry Syrup: Elderberry syrup is best to take when symptoms first come on. The elderberry herb is a powerful herb that supports immune function.
Vitamin D: To support the immune system during healing. Vitamin D is a good supplement to take year round however in times of acute illness you may increase your child’s vitamin D intake.
Cod Liver Oil: Cod liver oil contains vitamin D and vitamin A, two vitamins that work together to lower systemic inflammation and support immune function.
Probiotics: It is supremely important to increase your child’s probiotic intake during the flu to help support healthy digestive and immune function. Make sure to choose a high quality supplement that has a high adherence rate. Probiotics may also be obtained through fermented foods like cultured vegetables (try these fermented carrots!) and beverages like Kevita, a cultured coconut water.
Vitamin C: Buffered vitamin C is a great choice as it is easy on the tummy. For children use a powdered supplement and add it to smoothies and fresh green juices.
Keeping your child comfortable
Our children’s bodies are capable of amazing healing if we give them good food, rest and immune boosters. The above list will give you a good start on generally supporting your child through the flu virus. Below I’ve listed a few individual symptoms with specific natural remedies for your reference.
Fever: A fever is no fun, but it’s a GREAT sign that the immune system is working. An ideal range for a fever is between 102-103 degrees so if your child has a fever in this range, let the fever do the work and rejoice for the gift of a functioning immune system! If your child is unusually uncomfortable please read my post that covers natural remedies for fever.
Body aches: Run a bath for a child with body aches (keep it on the cool side if the child has a fever, you DO NOT want to overheat the child) and add magnesium flakes or epsom salts with a few drops of relaxing lavender essential oil. For the proper and safe way to do this read my post about detox baths for kids. The magnesium will help to soothe soft muscle tissue and will also help your child sleep.
Sore Throat: There are many natural soothers for a sore throat, check out these natural remedies for a sore throat to learn more.
Rest: The immune system is working very hard during a flu virus so help your child conserve energy and get lot of rest and sleep.
Have you used any of these natural remedies with your child? What would you add to this list?