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What is Influenza (also called Flu)?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each fall.

Every year in the United States, on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and;
  • about 36,000 people die from flu.

Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Symptoms of Flu

Symptoms of flu include:

  • fever (usually high)
  • headache
  • extreme tiredness
  • dry cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle aches
  • Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults


Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.


Herbal Treatments for the Flu

There are a variety of illnesses which individuals can come down with throughout the year. Perhaps one of the more common ones which can keep an individual in bed for a few days is the flu. When one has the flu, there are a few different treatment methods which can be sought out. Some individuals prefer to go to their doctor to have medications prescribed and an evaluation done whereas others feel better turning to herbal treatments for the flu and its accompanying symptoms. There are a number of herbal treatments which individuals take to help them combat the flu.


One of the more popular herbal treatments which some recommend to aid in treating the flu is Echinacea. This herbal remedy helps by stimulating the immune system and perhaps leads to a faster recovery in the individual. It is also said to reduce the severity of certain flu-related symptoms which will make the time with the flu be much easier for the sick individual. Echinacea comes in different varieties such as liquid, powder and as a dried root. This type of herb is best used for short-term use.


Ginger is another type of herb which may prove useful in treating flu symptoms. This herb has been shown to reduce fever and pain. It also helps many individuals to relax, which will aid in the person getting better more quickly if they can rest up. The antiviral consistency of ginger is why it is useful for treating flu symptoms and helping individuals to get better. Making this herb into a tea is a wonderful way to consume the ginger which provides for a relaxing, tasty beverage as well.

Elderberry Extract

Another type of herbal treatment which individuals have used to combat flu symptoms is elderberry extract. This type of herb has been shown to reduce flu symptoms in a fast, efficient way. Those who have taken this herb have said that the severity of symptoms was reduced as well.


Garlic is an herb which many individuals have in their kitchens at home. This herb is known by many as a great way to get rid of the flu in a fast manner. Garlic can be taken in the fresh clove form or in the form of an herbal supplement. Some have stated that fresh garlic may be the better variety to take in order to combat the flu. Taking this natural antibiotic is almost certain to yield results for the sick individual.

Combination of Herbs

Some may find that they obtain the best results when combining certain herbs together to make an encompassing flu remedy. Certain herbal teas which contain various herbs can be quite helpful in combating the flu. Herbs such as peppermint and rosemary combined together may have a forceful effect on the flu illness and help to knock out the symptoms quickly and get the individual up on their feet once again.


Herbal treatments for the flu are an alternative to regular medications which some may be more comfortable with taking. These items may provide a natural way to fight the flu in a quick and efficient manner while making the symptoms less severe overall. With that said, it is always important to read about the herbs beforehand so that one will know what herbs to mix together, which ones to take separately and which ones they should not take.

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Who Should Get Vaccinated?

In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk persons. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, ACIP makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.

People who should get vaccinated each year are:

1. People at high risk for complications from the flu, including:

  • Children aged 6–59 months of age,
  • Pregnant women,
  • People 50 years of age and older,
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, and
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.

2. People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:

  • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu (see above)
  • Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
  • Health care workers.

3. Anyone who wants to decrease their risk of influenza.


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