Done With Diligence

What to Do About the Flu: Natural Remedies for Kids and Adults

road sign that says flu season ahead

Flu season is here again, and up to 20% of the population contracts it each year (source).  But, never fear! There are safe, natural remedies that can have you feeling better fast!  Let’s take a look so you can be ready if the flu strikes your house.

(Before we begin, I must remind you that I am not a medical professional.  I am just a mom that tries to keep her family healthy and treat them at home whenever possible.  I can’t diagnose or treat you. Consider the information below a conversation between two friends.  Please use this article for informational purposes and ideas only.  You should seek professional medical advice whenever it makes sense to do so. This post contains affiliate links. You can read more in my Policies.)

Thinking about the Flu Shot for Flu Prevention

Let me start by addressing the elephant in the room… We do NOT take the flu shot at our house.  Why?  Because, as with any medical intervention, we’ve done a risk-benefit analysis and decided that it simply doesn’t make sense for us. That risk-benefit analysis contains 3 main points that might be worthy of your consideration.

Point #1: Concerns about Ingredients

We are very careful about what we put into our bodies, including foods, medications, and pharmaceuticals.  Some of the active ingredients that concerned us in the flu shot include adjuvants like aluminum, emulsifiers like Polysorbate 80, preservatives like Thimerosal (mercury), antibiotics like Neomycin, and residual chemicals like formaldehyde. You can read more from the CDC about vaccine additives here

Digging into each of the ingredients above is certainly worthy of your research, but that is not the purpose of this article, so I won’t go into each of them here.  However, I know some of you are shocked that you’ve been injecting ingredients that cross the blood-brain barrier (Thimerosal) and ingredients that are used in the embalming process (formaldehyde) into your healthy children. You may have your doubts about what I’m saying, so I would encourage you to go see for yourself using the links below.

test tubes with words aluminum, polysorbate 80, thimerosal, antibiotics, formaldehyde on top

There are many brands of flu shots available, and each one contains slightly different ingredients. You can find vaccine package inserts for all of the brands online, or you can ask your doctor for the printed package inserts that come in the flu shot boxes.  Here is a link to the Glaxo Smith Kline flu shot vaccine insert.  Scroll to section 11 to read the ingredients list.  You’ll see all of the ingredients I mentioned above on the list. Other brands’ vaccine package inserts can be found here, and they have similar ingredients.

Point #2: Concerns about Low Effectiveness Rate

If someone was willing to subject himself to all of the concerning ingredients listed above, you would hope that he would receive good protection from the flu as part of the trade-off, right?  Well, the effectiveness rate of the flu shot varies significantly each year.  But the CDC claims a 50% effectiveness rate would be considered successful.  Last year (2022), it was only 16% effective (source). In 2018, it was only 29% effective for all ages, and for children ages 9-17, it was only 7% effective (source).  If 50% is considered successful, and if you look back at the CDC’s data over the last 25 years, they’ve only been “successful” with their vaccine 3 of those 25 years…yikes!

little boy getting a shot in the arm

Point #3: Concerns about Annual Shots Having Decreased Effectiveness Each Year

There are studies emerging suggesting that people that receive a flu shot each year are seeing a significant reduction in it’s overall effectiveness.  Simply put, if a really serious flu season comes along, someone who hasn’t had the flu shot in many years may receive significantly more protection from that year’s shot than someone who gets a new shot every year (source 1, source 2). It stands to reason that it may make sense to only consider the flu shot in years where there is very significant threat or personal concern.

Natural Alternatives to the Flu Shot for Flu Protection

Just because we are opting out of an annual flu shot doesn’t mean we sit on our hands and do nothing! No! Instead, we look to the world of natural medicine. Natural medicine can be a great help if you are trying to avoid flu or reduce its overall symptoms.  Let’s open up the medicine cabinet to see what we can do to be proactive in protecting our families.

1. Elderberry Syrup for Flu Prevention, October- March

The first thing we do is diligently take our elderberry syrup proactively during the fall and winter months.  We choose to take it in 2 week cycles (2 weeks on, 2 weeks off) to keep the immune system boosted.  And to maximize its effectiveness, I make our own using organic elderberries and local honey. Not only does elderberry help with seasonal allergies, but research shows it packs quite the punch against flu.  In this study, elderberry was found to be effective in vitro against 10 different strains of the flu.  The annual flu shot usually only covers 2 strains of the flu!  In addition, in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study (the gold standard, top-of-the-line type of study), elderberry was found to reduce the symptoms of the flu by 3-4 days. That’s significantly better than Tamiflu, which must be taken with 48 hours of symptom onset.  Best-case scenario, Tamiflu can only reduce symptoms by 1-1.5 days.  And if taken after the first 48 hours, it is unhelpful (source).  I think I’ll stick with my all-natural elderberry syrup!

jar of elderberry syrup

2. Homeopathic Remedies for Flu Prevention, October-March

I love using homeopathic medicines because they are made from natural substances, and I don’t have to be concerned about side effects.  You can read more about the safety and efficacy of homeopathic products in my article about the Basic Facts of Homeopathy. Professional Homeopath Cristina Villacorta recommends a combo of 3 homeopathic remedies for flu prevention.  She suggests Oscillococcinum 200 (also known as Anas Barbariae) + Influenzinum 30 + Bacillinum 200.  We choose to take this combo once per month from October through March.  Then, if the threat become more serious, we increase to twice per week.  For example, if half of your child’s class is out sick with the flu, you might want to increase the frequency.  Or if several people in your office have the flu, it might be time to get serious.

​But If You STILL get the Flu…Treat it Naturally!

But what if you get the flu anyway?  Hopefully your immune system is revved up and ready to fight from the prevention remedies, but there is still more you can do!  Let me remind you, influenza virus is a viral infection, meaning antibiotics can’t help.  There is very little that doctors can do other than offer drugs like cough syrup or Tamiflu to help with flu symptoms.  But there is SO MUCH you can do to treat it in a natural way. And if you’re stocked up in advance, you can start treatment within hours of the onset of symptoms. So, when someone in our family is hit with the flu, I approach it FAST and from MULTIPLE directions.

1. Supplements to Help Fight the Flu

I always make sure my supplement stash is ready for flu season.  In my family, adults will take Vitamin C (1,000 mg) 3 times per day (or more!), while the kids take about 500 mg of Sodium Ascorbate.  We also take Vitamin D3 + K2 (about 10,000 IU for sick adults and 5,000 for sick kids). Zinc is also in the lineup (about 50 mg for adults and 25 mg for kids).  And I make sure we are all getting in our probiotics.  To make it easier for my kids to take, I mix all of their supplements into a cup of filtered water and flavor it with some Stur.  They love their “Get Well Cocktail”!  If you want to see the exact brands of supplements we use, I have links for easy shopping over on my Master List of Product Recommendations.

recipe card for get well cocktail with vitamin c, d, zinc

2. Nutrition to Help Fight the Flu

Bone broth, bone broth, bone broth!  When it comes to nutrition to fight the flu a good, homemade soup with homemade bone broth is hard to beat.  You can pack in protein, vitamins, minerals, and all sorts of stuff the body needs into one comforting bowl.  I have found that it really helps to keep some frozen soup in my freezer for quick sick meals.  I love using these silicone freezer blocks to freeze perfect soup portions.  Just pop them out when frozen and store in gallon size freezer bags.  Here is an article about the benefits of bone broth. And it goes without saying, remember to make sure the sick patient is getting plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

soup ladle dipping bone broth out of crockpot
pouring broth into a silicone freezer mold
frozen block of broth and a pot

3. Nebulize to Fight the Flu

If someone in my family has the flu, you can bet I will pull out the nebulizer!  Not only will my sick patient use the nebulizer 4-5 times per day to improve respiratory symptoms such as nasal congestion , but the rest of the family will also nebulize to try help prevent the spread of the flu! I realize that home nebulzing can be a controversial topic, so I’ll refer you to a great article by Dr. Jockers.  He shares published research on nebulizing to fight respiratory illnesses, and he sites multiple doctors. He even shares a “recipe” for how to make your nebulzing solution.  What does my family choose to nebulize when we have the flu?  After gathering information from a variety of doctors, I’ve settled on a recipe for my family that includes saline, Food Grade 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, and Lugol’s Iodine.  We will nebulize this solution when we are fighting colds, flu, Covid, allergies, sinuses, and more!  I even keep a spare nebulizer on hand in case we need it (Amazon sells them, so no need to get a prescription for a nebulizer)!

4. Homeopathic Treatment to Fight the Flu

With homeopathy, we always watch for symptoms to know what remedies are needed.  Having a good Materia Medica and Repertory on hand can be SUPER handy when trying to find the right remedy.  I’ll share some remedies that I might start with to address flu-like symptoms, but if you want to have good results, you have to keep trying until you find the right homeopathic remedy for your sick patient. Another benefit of homeopathy is that the medicine is in the form of tiny, quick-dissolve tablets that even young babies can usually take easily.

  • Anas Barbariae- As soon as I realize someone has the flu, I begin giving Anas Barb 3 times per day.
  • Aconite- At the first sign of symptoms of any kind (cold, flu, stomach virus, you name it!), I start with a dose of Aconite.
  • Eupatorium Perfoliatum- If there are body aches, I offer Eupatoruim Perf as needed.
  • Allium Cepa- I love Allium Cepa for a runny nose.
  • Pulsatilla- Pulsatilla can be great for young children. There will often be much whining and clinginess.  There will be thick yellow or green mucus, possibly a loss of smell, and they will prefer open air to a warm room.
  • Belladonna- Whenever there is a fever, especially a low-grade fever, I try to let it do its job (untreated).  But if there is a high temperature that is concerning or preventing the sick patient from resting, I use Belladonna rather than Tylenol to bring it down.
  • Kali Bich- This remedy can be very helpful for drainage in the back of the throat and for a stuffy nose that feels blocked at the root.
  • Gelsemium- For headaches and sore throat, Gelsemium can be a big help.
  • Nux Vomica- If there is nausea or chills, Nux Vomica can help.
opened homeopathic remedy kit

If you need help figuring out where to purchase a specific homeopathic remedy, check out my article that can give you some options.

Final Thoughts of Fighting the Flu

In most cases, doctors will tell you that you’ve just got to let flu viruses run their course.  So why not use some natural remedies to support your body while that happens?  By all means, if you are concerned about how your sick patient is progressing, seek professional medical advice.  A diligent mama is always paying attention to whether she can continue treating the health problem on her own or whether she needs to get help.  

But in my experience, if I jump on it right when I see the first symptom, natural remedies can be a very effective treatment.  I have yet to stand at the crossroads of debating whether I should seek professional help or keep trying myself, as I always see signs of improvement quickly.  The secret is to stay calm, ask the Lord for wisdom, and keep working through the problem.  You can do this, Mama!

Looking for more natural remedies for your family?  See my Remedy with Diligence page.

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