Everyone would love to avoid the flu, right? The good news is that there are some very good natural options to help you do just that.
To start, last month I sent a review of general measures you can use to support your overall immunity during the winter months. If you missed it or would like a review see the blog post here. https://www.lindabakermd.com/blog
Today, I’d like to share some remedies that are specific for influenza. Here are four approaches you should know.
Elderberry is a safe, effective, affordable and even delicious herbal treatment for Influenza that has been confirmed in scientific studies.
In a randomized controlled trial done in Norway, patients who were ill with influenza received elderberry 4 times daily. “Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.”
(Zakay-Rones, Z., Thorn, E, et al, Randomized Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Oral Elderberry Extract in the Treatment of influenza A and B Virus Infections, J Int Med Res., 2004 Mar-Apr; 32(2):132-40.)
Personally, I take elderberry as a preventative daily during the winter flu season and if I start to feel illness coming on, increase it to as much as 4 times daily. I recommend it for all my patients. Since it is basically just food, it is safe for all ages. I’m much more comfortable with this than with prescription antivirals which lack efficacy yet bring the risk of significant side effects.
Elderberry is also very cost effective. It’s easy to purchase dried berries and make your own syrup. There are many recipes available online.
"Oscillo” is a homeopathic remedy for influenza that is readily available over the counter. You’ll see it at checkout counters at many groceries and pharmacies.
“Oscillo” is easy to use as it is a general remedy for anyone with the flu, in contrast to more individualized remedies that I describe below. It works best if taken as soon as you note symptoms.
It can also be used prophylactically if you have a known exposure to influenza and want to avoid becoming ill yourself. I suggest that if one family member develops the flu, not only should the patient be treated, but consider giving a dose to other family members as well. Of course, if anyone is under constitutional homeopathic treatment always check with your homeopath before administering this or any other homeopathic remedy.
In 2012, European researchers reviewed three randomized controlled double-blinded studies completed between 1988 and 1998 with over a total of 1000 patients. All studies showed clinical improvement in flu-like symptoms using Oscillococcinum, with one study showing statistically significant improvement. (Oscillococcinum for influenza treatment, Ann Ist Super Sanità 2012 | Vol. 48, No. 1: 105-109)
For those who would like a preventative treatment the remedy, Influenzinum is made from the killed influenza virus. Similar to the way that vaccines are adapted each year, a new form of influenzinum is available each fall. Most homeopaths, however, appreciate that homeopathic remedies are more broadly applicable than are vaccines so that it may be unnecessary to change it each year. You will need to purchase this one online from a homeopathic pharmacy as it is not generally available in local stores. One source is Homeopathic Educational Services in Berkeley, CA.
Truthfully, I’ve never taken this myself nor do I generally recommend it for my patients unless they are particularly concerned about influenza. I just haven’t found it necessary.
4. Individualized remedies for influenza
This is where homeopathy really shines. This is what you use if all the above measures do not work and you become ill. Based on your exact symptoms, a remedy can then be matched which can speed your recovery significantly.
As a homeopath, I have in my library an entire 383 page book on the homeopathic treatment of influenza which covers dozens of remedies that are used to treat influenza and its complications. The good news is that the vast majority of the time one of several fairly commonly available single remedies will work. I’ve described the most often indicated ones below. All of these should be available locally wherever homeopathic remedies are sold.
Gelsemium (Yellow Jasmine)
Dullness is the word most associated with this remedy. The patient is dull and listless, lethargic, and rather apathetic about the illness. There is a dull, heavy aching of the head, dizziness and heaviness of the eyelids, with difficulty keeping the eyes open. The face is hot and flushed, there is a dull aching in the neck and back, and the limbs are weak and trembling. The patient is usually thirstless and has chills up and down the back.
Bryonia alba (Wild Hops)
The patient is irritable and chilly, with dryness of the mouth and other mucous membranes. He is thirsty for large quantities, and made worse by motion. These patients do not want to move at all as it makes them feel so much worse. The headache is described as splitting or bursting and worse from light, noise, or even the slightest motion, such as moving the eyelids or the jarring that occurs from someone walking across the room or sitting on the bed. The neck is stiff and sore, and there are stiffness and stitching pains in the small of the back. The patient often states that he just wants to be left alone.
Rhus toxicodenron (Poison Ivy)
This patient is chilly, sensitive to cold drafts, and better from warmth. She has aching, tearing, bruised pains in the extremities and bak, along with muscle weakness. The pains are worse at night, better from heat, and the patient is very restless in bed, tossing and turning in an attempt to find a comfortable position. The joints and the back are stiff, especially on first moving, but loosen up after walking or moving around a bit. The patient is thirsty for cold drinks, especially milk.
Eupatorium perfoliatum (Thoroughwort of Boneset)
This remedy is most useful in influenza cases with aching in the bones, as if they will break. There is a strong aching pain in the bones of the back arms, wrists, and legs, and the muscles are sore to touch. The head is throbbing, with dizziness and soreness of the eyeballs. The patient has shaking chills, especially in the morning, and has increased thirst immediately preceding the chills.
Arsenicum album (a non-toxic preparation of Arsenic trioxide)
The patient is extremely chilly and thirsty, but only for a few small sips at a time. She complains of burning pains in the head, back and extremities and is very restless, tossing in bed or pacing back and forth on the floor. There is profound weakness, and tremendous anxiety with fear of death and of being left alone. The symptoms are all worse after midnight, around 1 am.
Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade)
Illness comes on suddenly with a frighteningly high fever, often starting around 3 pm. The face is flushed, the pupils are dilated and the eyes are glistening. The patient may be delirious with fever or have hallucinations. The hands and feet may be icy even though the body and face are hot. The patient is not thirsty and may have a severe headache with throbbing and bounding pulses. There may be sore throat as well.
The above remedies should be taken three times a day in the 30C potency or six times a day in the 12C potency. If no improvement occurs within 24 hours, a different remedy should be prescribed. The treatment should be discontinued when symptoms are clearly resolving or when symptoms change to a new remedy picture. When in doubt, consult your homeopath.
Historically, homeopathy has been very effective in treating epidemics of influenza.
For my own family, I can’t remember when was the last time any of us were laid up with the flu since we’ve been relying on these treatments.
Also note that if you or someone you love has been ill more frequently than you’d like, consider booking an appointment for a constitutional homeopathic evaluation. A constitutional remedy can strengthen your immune system and really turn your health around. I offer these assessment online as well as locally in the Portland, OR area.
To your health!