There are several alternative treatments available to help prevent flu infection or to alleviate its symptoms once infection has occurred.
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Both acupuncture and acupressure are purported to strengthen the body’s natural immune response, thus helping prevent the flu. If you already have the flu, stimulating different pressure points can relieve some of your symptoms, including nasal congestion, headaches, and back and muscle pain.
Some essential oils—eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree—can be used with steam inhalation treatments to ease nasal congestion. To treat a sore throat, a drop of tea tree oil can be mixed into a glass of warm water and gargled. Make sure not to swallow the mixture.
Herbs and Supplements
An infusion of the herb boneset (Eupatroium perfoliatum) is said to relieve fever and body aches. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and elderberry (Sambucus nigra) infusions can be effective against chills and other flu symptoms. The herbs Echinacea and goldenseal have long been used to boost the immune system. Teas made with cinnamon, cayenne, and ground ginger are believed to relieve sinus congestion.
Other popular herbs and natural remedies for treating flu symptoms when brewed in tea include:
- Irish moss
Regular doses of vitamin C (two to three grams per day for adults) may help prevent the flu by boosting the immune system. Zinc supplements have also been found to be beneficial to improve the body’s immune system.
A medicine called Oscillococcinum is sometimes used in homeopathic treatments both to prevent influenza and relieve its symptoms. Other common homeopathic medicines for the flu include Gelsemium (Gelsemium sempervirens) for chills, headache, and stuffy nose; and Bryonia (Bryonia alba) to treat headache and muscle pain.
Taking a hot bath can ease the pain of headache and sore muscles and relieve congestion. For high fevers, a long, cool bath can aid in bringing down the body’s core temperature. Steam inhalation is a common hydrotherapy treatment for the flu and is used to open nasal passages and improve breathing.
Rinsing your sinuses with warm, salty water is an effective way to relieve nasal congestion. Neti pots, which can be found at your local pharmacy, are small containers designed specifically for nasal irrigation. They are usually made of ceramic or molded plastic, and are affordable. To use a neti pot, you fill the pot with warm salt water (or saline solution which can be bought at a pharmacy), tilt your to the side (over a sink or bowl), and place the spout of the pot in the upper nostril, pouring the water gently in. The water will flow through your nasal cavity and out the lower nostril.