Flu fighters: Natural ways to combat the flu this winter

The flu season is upon us, and it’s a serious one this year. Many people are getting sick, and the numbers just keep going up. In some states, government officials have called for states of emergency to deal with the epidemic. All of this means that you need to be careful, and you should have on hand the right remedies in case you start to succumb to the first signs of flu.

While the flu comes from horses and pigs, ducks are actually the most common source of the virus. In fact, flu research centers keep on hand many thousands of samples of duck livers, hearts and other organs, as references for different strains of influenza. Is it a particularly bad flu season? Blame it on the ducks. We have a long road ahead of us until flu season is over around May.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that approximately 55 percent of Americans do not get flu shots – and that getting one is the easiest way to prevent getting sick. Early estimates show that flu shots are about 60 percent effective this year, again according to CDC. So while you may get a flu shot, you can still get the flu.

Many people are wary of flu shots and choose not to get them due to concerns over safety. For the most part, flu shots are safe and at least somewhat effective. Their effectiveness depends to a great extent on how quickly flu viruses mutate.

However, apart from the vaccine, there are various natural remedies one can utilize to combat the dreaded virus.  To boost your chances of staying well, there are a few supplements you should keep on hand that just may tip the scales in your favor if flu strikes.


Absurd to spell and hard to pronounce, Oscillococcinum is the best-selling natural flu remedy in the world – because it works. “Oscillo,” as it is more commonly known, is a homeopathic preparation of the heart and liver of the Barbary duck. Oscillo is taken at the very first sign of the flu. The moment you feel symptoms coming on, you take a few pellets of Oscillo.

As a homeopathic medicine, Oscillo is federally recognized in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, the reference for allowed medicines. You will find Oscillo at drug stores and health food stores, as well as online. Don’t wait until you’re sick; keep some in your medicine chest.


It’s probably the purple pigments in elderberry that help to fight flu. These pigments, known as anthocyanins, are powerfully antioxidant, but also appear to possess anti-viral activity. Elderberry is widely available in supplement form, in liquids, capsules and tablets. The most tested elderberry preparation for fighting flu is called Sambucol. Like Oscillo, it is most effective when taken at the first sign of flu.

Today elderberry is under scrutiny, not only for its anti-flu properties, but for reducing the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, and oddly for extending the cockpit time of military fighter pilots. Published studies show that elderberry helps to reduce the severity and duration of flu – a significant benefit.

Cat’s claw

This botanical from the Amazon may be the most powerful immune-enhancer on earth. Cat’s claw contains compounds that help the immune system to function at its peak, reducing the risk of getting sick and reducing severity of sickness. Keep on hand some capsules of standardized extract of cat’s claw for when you start to feel sick. I like the Nature’s Way standardized cat’s claw extract capsules. If you are around others who are already sick with flu, cat’s claw may help you to stay safe and well.

Flu can be an inconvenience, or it can be a life-threatening disease. In either case, you don’t want it. Protect yourself from the flu. This season’s strain is bad, and it may get a great deal worse. Keep these natural remedies on hand to help keep you well.

Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter, and researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. Chris teaches ethnobotany at U Mass Amherst where he is Explorer-in-Residence. He advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies , and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Visit  his web site at www.MedicineHunter.com.