Flu transmission is by airborne droplets coughed or sneezed up. The first line of defence is the mucosal layer that lines the inside of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs. This layer is moist. Its main ingredient is water. 

Ways to protect and strengthen it:

  • Drink plenty of water. Stay well hydrated. 
  • Boil carrageen in water, and sip often. Carrageen has a normalising and tonifying effect on the mucosa.

 Herbs for the flu work in a number of ways:

  • Boost the immunity system – astragalus, echinacea
  • Support and strengthen the upper respiratory tract – eyebright
  • Support the lungs – coltsfoot, hyssop
  • Support the mucosal layer – marshmallow, linden
  • Early onset of the flu –  elderberry, boneset
  • Antivirals –  liquorice, garlic
  • Bronchoconstriction –  crampbark
  • Strengthen the adrenals – liquorice

Select herbs from the appropriate approaches and mix. Take a teaspoon three times a day, more often as needed. I like to separate the upper respiratory tract from the lungs, and to make herbs mixes focused on each. 

  Supplements that help the immunity system:

  • Vitamin D3. This is the active form. Take the daily dosage per label twice a day.
  • Vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Take the daily dosage per label twice a day.

  Being active outdoors has many benefits:

  • Sunlight converts an inactive form of Vitamin D in the skin to its active form, D3. Overcast days are not a problem because at least 60% of the sunlight gets through.
  • Movement promotes blood and lymph circulation.
  • Exercise (walking, gardening, etc.) is the single best antidepressant, natural or medical. 

  Food:

  • Cut down on sugar and alcohol. These suppress the immunity system. Sweets, biscuits, fizzy drinks, sugar added to foods. Check the labels of processed foods for sugar content. 
  • Cut back on cow dairy products, especially milk. They tend to increase mucus in the lungs.
  • Cut back on processed foods. Cook with whole foods. 
  • March and April can be chilly. ‘Cold’ foods – sandwiches, salads, cereals, yogurt, ice cream – are cooling. Focus on ‘warming’ foods – hot from cooking, warming spices like chilli, Tabasco, curry, nutmeg, ginger.
  • Eat or drink berries rich in Vitamin C and bioflavonoids. Blueberry, cranberry, black currant, raspberry, elderberry, goji berries. I prefer berries to the supplement Vitamin C.
  • If sick, usually there is little or no appetite. The body is busy dealing with the illness and is saying it does not want food. Consider a full fast for a few days, or a partial fast. Broths are useful for partial fasts.

When going out, keep the neck covered, particularly in any east wind, including northeast and southeast. The east wind in Connemara has a cutting quality and can penetrate in a flash. This common pattern is recognized by Chinese medicine as wind invasion entering through the nape of the neck, as a precursor to the flu.

Develop the skill of listening to yourself.

Look for the feeling of robust health and vitality. If missing this, protect yourself. If feeling tired or vulnerable, slow down and protect yourself. Watch for symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, coughing, expectoration, chills, loss of appetite, gastric upset, fatigue. If any of these are present, protect yourself. 

Self awareness about health and the flu is invaluable. Develop a keen sensitivity to slight vulnerability or to the earliest symptoms. Early treatment is far more effective.