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Natural Flu Busters

Published: February 1, 2016

This year’s vaccine offers good protection against the flu, but it’s not perfect. Here are six home remedies to fight the flu from holistic dietitian, author, and exercise physiologist Dr. Felicia Stoler:

  • Boost immunity: Black elderberry extract contains powerful anthocyanins to support immune function, Stoler says. Widely available in the cough syrup aisle, non-medicinal Sambucol brand reduced severity and shortened flu duration by up to four days (3.1 days compared to 7.1 days for those given placebo), according to research published in The Journal of International Medical Research.
  • Create a line of defense: Probiotics (aka “good bugs”) strengthen the lining of the GI tract,helping to fight infections. A 2015 Cochrane review concludes that taking products that release beneficial bacteria in the gut reduces antibiotic prescription rates for flu and other infections.
  • Turn up the humidity: Relieve congestion by leaning over a humidifier with head covered, or stand near a hot shower. The more moisture in the air, the less time the flu virus survives, says a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study.
  • Skip exercise: We don’t often say this, but when you’re knocked out with cold or flu, it’s not the time to stress your body with exercise. “Start up again when you can work out with full vigor and breath,” Stoler says.
  • Sleep more: Recent research from Washington State University says sleep calms the flu thanks to a special brain protein.
  • Sip something healthy: Taking tea with honey and lemon soothes irritated airways and helps me sleep, Stoler adds. Likewise, a well-documented 2000 study shows chicken soup reduces symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections by fighting inflammation.
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