It's that time of year where Influenza seems to be running rampant. My theory has less to do with germs and more to do with all the excessive holiday sweets and spending more time indoors (less sunshine - actually very important for the immune system), but that's a topic for another day.
I know it can be scary to have a child (or yourself) sick with the flu, so I'm hoping this will give you some practical things you can do at home to help support your body and hopefully decrease the duration of illness.
Let's get into it.
One of the most important things you can do to avoid complications from Influenza is to make sure you stay hydrated. Dehydration increases risk of complication during times of illness, and susceptibility for dehydration increases with influenza (or any illness with fever/diarrhea/vomiting, etc.). Make sure to take small sips of fluids as tolerated to stay hydrated. I like to keep something with electrolytes on hand. My personal favorite is Relyte Electolyte mix from Redmond (CODE: ERIN15 will get you 15% off). If you're caring for a baby with influenza, you want to see 4 wet diapers in a 24 hour period (or no longer than 8 hours without voiding). For older kids you'll want to look at the color of their urine (as well as paying attention to how often they're urinating). You're looking for it to be nice and clear or light yellow in color.
Pay attention to your body and its cues.You likely won't feel good and will want to rest.Rest is so important when you are sick.Let your body direct its energy towards healing. Stay home and rest for as long as you need.The body knows.
Fever is one of the bodies best defense mechanisms.I find illness to be of shorter duration when I let the body do it's thing and don't reduce a fever unless absolutely necessary.When I do choose to reduce, I prefer to use dye-free ibuprofen.
Viruses typically spread more easily in dry air conditions. Using a humidifier to increase moisture in the air can reduce transmission and survivability of flu virus.
A detox bath is not only great for relaxing but can help with aches, pains and stress, and serves to help get the bad stuff out and the good stuff in.
Here's a gentle recipe I enjoy using:
1 cup epsom salt
2-3 drops lavender EO
2-3 drops frankincense EO
You can get my favorite lavender and frankincense here!
We know Vitamin C is excellent for activating the immune system. Research (here and here, to name a few) shows Vitamin C can greatly help to decrease duration of influenza and the severity of its symptoms. I recommend a high dose at the first sign of illness.I always keep Organic Vitamin C liquid drops or Megadose Liposomal Vitamin C from MaryRuth's Organics on hand. (CODE: ESSENTIALLYERIN for 20% off).
The best way to get Vitamin D is through sunlight and specific food sources. 30 minutes of midday sun, directly on the skin. Some good sources of Vitamin D are salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, raw cow milk, egg yolks, tuna, and beef liver.
Zinc has a key role in immunity, inflammation, tissue injury, blood pressure and in tissue responses to lack of oxygen. It has been shown to shorten the duration of influenza and flu-like symptoms.I use MaryRuth's Organic Ionic Zinc (CODE: ESSENTIALLYERIN for 20% off).
Delicious and great for immune support, Elderberry has been shown to help shorten duration of the flu and its symptoms.I like MaryRuth's Organic Elderberry Drops (CODE: ESSENTIALLYERIN) or Purely Parsons for DIY elderberry kits (ERIN for 15% off).
Something I've had on hand for years and use at the first moment I suspect the flu. Oscillococcinum reduces the duration and severity of influenza related symptoms such as body aches, headache, fever, chills and fatigue. It's easy to take and recommended for everyone ages 2 and up. Get yours here!
Many essential oils have either antiviral properties, antibacterial properties, or often times both (study here, and here, and here). Because there is no "half life" per se with essential oils, consistent application is important as well as dilution with a carrier oil. Tea Tree has been shown to inhibit influenza virus replication.Other oils to use:frankincense, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, oregano, thyme, lemon. The brand I trust here!
A Note on Tamiflu:
A commonly prescribed medication, Tamiflu (Oseltamivir), is an anti-viral designed to shorten the duration of flu-like symptoms with the potential for serious side effects you should be aware of.Common side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and headache, and more severe neurological side effects such as convulsions, encephalitis, delirium, and hallucinations. Tamiflu has only been shown to shorten duration by 12-24 hours and comes with significant risk.Caution is advised especially when giving to children under the age of 17.
Check out this study here as well as this one. Also this article from GreenMed Info.