Influenza, also known as the flu or grippe, is an infectious viral disease that affects the upper respiratory system, including your lungs, throat and nose. It is one of the most common health problems, afflicting people across the globe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thousands of people in the U.S. die each year because of complications arising from influenza.
Often people mistake influenza for the common cold during the initial stage because the symptoms are so similar.
Common symptoms of influenza are a runny nose, repetitive sneezing, sore throat, congestion in the nasal passages, body aches, headache, high fever, dry cough, weakness and loss of appetite.
It is highly contagious and spreads rapidly from one person to another. An infected person should stay away from small children and older people who tend to have weaker immune systems.
It is important to begin treatment as soon as symptoms appear because influenza can lead to other health complications like ear infections, pneumonia and bronchitis. Prescribed antiviral drugs may ease symptoms. However, in many cases, simple home remedies can alleviate mild to moderate flu symptoms.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for influenza.
Honey is known to boost the immune system and help reduce symptoms of the common flu. It also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can speed up the healing process.
- Simply take one tablespoon of honey with a glass of water several times a day.
- Mix one tablespoon of honey in one cup of hot water. If you want, add a few drops of lemon juice. This soothing drink will promote mucus flow and help reduce irritation and itchiness in your throat. Drink it two or three times a day.
- Mix equal amounts of honey and onion juice. Have one teaspoons of this mixture three times a day, until the flu is gone.
- You can also combine one teaspoon of honey with the juice extracted from 10 to 15 fresh basil leaves. Take this once a day.
Note: Honey should not be given to children under age 1.
Lemon has antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that work together to weaken the flu virus in the body as well as its annoying symptoms.
- Squeeze a lemon in a glass of warm water and drink it. Do this three or four times daily until your symptoms subside.
- Add the juice of one small lemon and one tablespoon each of honey and rum to a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for a few minutes. Drink this hot lemonade twice daily for a few days.
- Put one chopped lemon (both skin and pulp) into one cup of boiling water. Let it steep for five minutes and then inhale the steam and drink this hot lemonade three or four times a day until your symptoms subside.
The healing properties of mustard can help treat flu symptoms to a great extent. It is loaded with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help with a quick recovery.
- Make a paste with one tablespoon of dry mustard, four tablespoons of flour, one egg white and a little bit of warm water. Smear the paste on a clean muslin cloth and then put another muslin cloth over it.Dab some olive oil on your chest and lay this mustard plaster on it. Remove after a few minutes and wash your chest with a clean cloth soaked in warm water. If it does not cause irritation then you can leave it on for up to 15 minutes.Mustard’s pungent odor helps unclog a stuffy nose, while the warmth improves blood circulation and eases congestion. Do this once daily or very four to six hours.
- In a large bucket, add one tablespoon of mustard powder for every quart of hot water. Soak your feet in it for several minutes until the water cools. This draws blood to your feet and improves circulation, which helps relieve congestion and speed up the healing process. Do this twice daily.
Ginger has long been a popular natural remedy for many health problems, including influenza. The powerful anti-inflammatory properties as well as the warming nature of ginger help treat various symptoms of the flu. Plus, it helps strengthen the immune system to fight off viruses that cause influenza.
- Make ginger tea by adding one-half teaspoon of freshly grated ginger to one cup of boiling water and letting it steep for a few minutes. Add some honey and enjoy this tea three or four times a day.
- Combine two teaspoons each of grated ginger root and bayberry bark and one teaspoon of powdered cayenne. Add one teaspoon of the mixture to one cup of boiling water. Let it steep for half an hour and then strain it. Drink this several times a day.
- You can also grate fresh ginger and eat a small amount several times a day or add ginger slices to soups and other dishes.
Garlic can work wonders as a remedy for influenza due to its natural antiviral, antifungal, antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It also contains the immune-boosting compound allicin that helps relieve various flu symptoms.
- Chop or crush two or three fresh garlic cloves and put them in one cup of hot water. Let it steep for 10 minutes, strain and then drink it like a tea. Do this three or four times a day.
- You can also chew one raw garlic clove or swallow one teaspoon of garlic juice with water several times a day.
Steam is an effective method for thinning mucus, making it easier to flush out of your system.
- Turn on a hot shower and sit in the closed bathroom for a few minutes, inhaling the steam. Do this several times a day to ease congestion.
- Pour boiled water into a large bowl. You can add a few drops of thyme oil or eucalyptus oil to the water to boost the healing effects. Drape a towel over your head and breathe deeply for a few minutes. Do this as needed to relieve congestion.
Fenugreek is used as a natural home remedy for influenza because it has strong antiviral and various other medicinal properties.
- Add one tablespoon of fenugreek seeds to one-half quart of water. Boil it until it is reduced to one-third of its original volume. Strain the solution, and then add one teaspoon of fresh ginger juice and a few drops of honey. Drink this once a day for three or four days.
- Soak one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in a glass of water overnight. In the morning, strain out the seeds and warm up the liquid. Gargle with it to soothe a sore throat. Do this once or twice daily for a few days.
Peppermint is another herb widely used to fight flu symptoms. It is loaded with nutrients that help the body fight off infection. It has menthol that acts as an expectorant, helping the body cough up mucus and thus relieving congestion, soothing a sore throat and calming cough symptoms.
- Add one tablespoon of chopped peppermint leaves to one cup of hot water. Let it steep for 10 minutes, strain and then add some honey to sweeten it. Drink the tea while it is still warm. Have three to four cups daily for a quick recovery.
- You can also mix fresh peppermint leaves in salads or soups.
9. Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is a tried and tested remedy for influenza and highly effective in managing the various symptoms. Several studies have concluded that chicken soup inhibits the production of inflammatory compounds that are released in response to a viral infection.
A hot bowl of chicken soup also helps thin mucus and keeps the body hydrated. Have some homemade chicken soup twice daily for the first three or four days after symptoms appear. To boost its effects, add chopped garlic or red pepper flakes to the soup while preparing it.
Note: If homemade chicken soup is not possible, you can try canned soup also.
10. Orange Juice
Insufficient intake of water during the flu can cause dehydration, so you need to drink plenty of fluids. Drinking eight to 10 glasses of water per day will keep your body hydrated and thin mucous secretions. For best results, drink orange juice several times a day.
Orange juice is rich in vitamin C that boosts the immune system and increases production of white blood cells to fight infection and keep viruses at bay. Opt for fresh orange juice instead of packaged versions.
Next time you come down with the flu, try one of these home remedies. You’ll surely feel better faster.