• Switch on Health

How to avoid the flu the natural way

Updated: Jul 12, 2019

In this article, we reveal the surprising natural remedy that can help with the flu and how to avoid catching the flu in the first place. But first of all, what is the flu? Why is it so bad? Is it worth getting the flu shot? What's the difference between a cold and the flu? Read on!

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

The difference between a cold and the flu is like night and day. If you've had the flu, you'll know what we mean. Why do so many people complain about having the flu when really they've just got a cold? (Obviously, they were experiencing a more severe form of the common cold, called 'man flu'...)

The medical term for a common cold is coryza. The 'flu' is a shortened term for influenza. Both are caused by viruses, but they produce remarkably different results.

We all know the symptoms of having a head cold. You start to feel as though you are "coming down with something." It gradually gets worse over a couple of days. Your nose starts watering - so much that you begin to wonder where it all comes from. Tissue manufacturers make a fortune from you. You cough and sneeze a lot, which is an ingenious way for the cold virus to make sure it gets spread around. You generally feel pretty rotten. You might feel a bit cold and achy and have a slight headache. But, in this day and age, there's no time to rest and you bravely "soldier on," as the Codral advert encourages you to do so. (Another great way to spread the cold virus to all your colleagues, and make more money for the Codral and tissue companies!) After a few days, your nose is no longer watery but produces copious amounts of thick green or yellow.... we'll stop there.

What are the symptoms of having the flu? How do you know if you've got the flu instead of a cold?

The flu can come on with very little warning. Within 24 hours, you are likely to be in bed and running a high fever. "Soldiering on" is out of the question. Other symptoms of the flu can include severe headache, sore throat, muscle aches, lower back pain, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea. You might have chest discomfort and find it harder to breathe. You are likely to be bed bound in this state for about 5 days and maybe off work for a week or two. You are also at risk of complications that can last weeks or months even after the flu has gone, such as depression or post-viral fatigue syndrome.

Why is the flu dangerous?

Having influenza is much more serious than the common cold. For those with compromised immune systems, such as the very young, elderly, those who are HIV+ or on certain medications, the flu can be fatal. Pneumonia is a potential complication of the flu, and can also be deadly. It is estimated that literally millions of people died from a flu epidemic in 1918. Scary stuff. That's never happened with the common cold.

Why do they recommend flu shots? Do flu shots really work? Should you get the flu shot? Is it worth getting the flu shot? Does the flu vaccine have side effects?

Orthodox medical doctors and public health officials often recommend an annual vaccine against the flu. Vaccines work by introducing a weakened version of the virus to your body. This way, your body develops 'memory' for the virus and is more prepared to fight it when it meets the real thing in the future. Unfortunately, having a flu shot does not guarantee that you won't get the flu. And the side-effects of the vaccine can include 'flu-like symptoms' and even the risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome, which results in symptoms such as numbness, pain, and muscle weakness. Doesn't sound like much fun, but then again, neither is the flu.

Are there any natural remedies for the flu? Do natural remedies work for the flu?

Prevention is the best cure. We probably all need reminding that the healthier we are, to begin with, the better chance we stand of fighting off a flu virus without getting sick. While everyone searches for the latest superfood or miracle cure, they forget that the best 'natural remedies' are what you do every day: eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, do moderate exercise, don't stress (!) and get adequate high-quality sleep.

But what if it's too late and you already have the flu? In the acute stages of the illness, nutritional interventions such as vitamin C, and herbal products such as Echinacea and Andrographis might help a bit, but probably not much! Nutrition and Herbal Medicine play a more significant role in recovery, and then in prevention. Astragalus is an excellent herb for supporting the immune system in post-viral infection. In the acute stage, the remedy of choice is more likely to be Homoeopathy.

Does Homeopathy work for the flu?

The quick answer is yes. Homoeopathy works for just about anything, but people respond in different ways. Think of it this way. If two people had a headache and one felt better for taking Paracetamol, but the other didn't, does Paracetamol work for headaches?

One of the beauties of Homoeopathy is that it doesn't rely on a 'one size fits all' approach. The right remedy will depend upon your particular symptoms, but since the symptoms of the flu will be similar for most people, there are some commonly used Homeopathic remedies for the flu. The most widely used is Oscillococcinum, also known as Anas barbariae, or just 'Anas barb'.


Ideally, you'll be living according to natural health principles every day, and won't get sick in the first place. But if you do happen to fall foul of the dreaded flu, use the speed dial on your phone to your Homoeopath. If that's not an option for you, we recommend you go out and purchase some Anas barb today - do it now before you forget - and keep it handy in your medicine cabinet, just in case.

Want to learn more about natural medicine?

If you want to learn more about Homeopathy, Switch on Health has several short courses and accredited qualifications that you will love, including Advanced Diplomas in Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, Naturopathy and Homeopathy. Browse the short courses or learn more about their accredited Advanced Diploma programs.


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