Fighting the Flu (Pt. 4):

My Last Three Flu-Fighting Secrets

There’s just a few odds & ends I want to mention re: flu fighting before we move on.

Secret #1: Eucalyptus oil. When one’s sinuses are all stopped up or one has a stubborn cough, don’t forget Eucalyptus. It’s an extremely powerful natural anti-viral and antibiotic. Sometimes I’ll just put a dab or two on my upper lip under my nostrils and breathe it in that way ... although after a few doses I've notice my upper lip can start to get a little raw. Sometimes I’ll spray it around the house if I’ve had a cold for a few days to sterilize the environment (it’s also a decent mood elevator.) If I’m really congested I’ll prepare the tub for a hot soak (see Part 2 for details) by spraying Eucalyptus oil around the tub to sterilize it, and then I’ll evaporate the oil away by filling the tub with hot water. This makes a glorious Eucalyptus steam bath. Inhale that steam, and one can feel one’s lungs clearing right before one’s .... eyes?

One can accomplish the same thing a little less ambitiously by boiling a pot of water on the stove, dropping 20-40 drops of Eucalyptus into it, and then inhaling the steam. Tent yourself with a towel for a more intense experience (please turn off the burner first, though ...)

The best source I’ve found for Eucalyptus oil in bulk is Vitacost.

Secret #2: Throat Wrapping. Especially in the early stages of the flu, if the main symptom is a sore throat, wrapping the throat snugly is a great idea. This works especially well before going to bed at night. Take a handkerchief-sized piece of skin-friendly cloth and arrange it in a diamond shape with one of the points pointing toward you. Take a thick athletic-style sock and place it horizontally from point-to-point across the cloth ... then fold the cloth up with the sock inside so it makes a thick cloth band. Now spread something like Vick’s Vaporub (old school) or Tiger Balm (new school) on your neck, being sure to get the area where your throat is sore. Then wrap the sock-inside-the-cloth around your neck, and pin it snugly with a safety pin at the back of your neck. Sleep with that on ... your throat will be much better in the morning.

Secret #3: Frankincense and Marjoram oil. Every now and then a flu will blow through town that leaves people with a stubborn, persistent cough. I’ve seen this progress into something resembling pneumonia. When this doesn’t respond to ginger tea, sweating, eucalyptus or anything else, I’ll make a Frankincense and Marjoram chest rub.

Start with a 4 oz bottle of Jojoba oil, available at any good health food store or at Whole Foods. We use jojoba because chemically it’s very similar to sebum, the body’s natural skin oil, which means it gets absorbed efficiently. Pour a smidgen of the Jojoba out, and then add about 40 drops of Frankincense and 40 drops of Marjoram oil to the bottle. (Be sure you’re using pure Frankincense oil ... many commercially available products dilute the Frankincense because it can be a little pricey.)

Now coat the upper chest and back with that oil, 2-3x/day. Relief will usually be felt within the first 24 hours.

It's a rare flu that won't respond rapidly and completely to combinations of the natural therapies I've outlined these last four weeks. The teas, the sweats, the vitamin C, the Eucalyptus ... all together or in various combinations ... really rock. If and when they don't work I usually find folks have been doing them half-heartedly. Make the tea strong by letting it steep at least 45 minutes and putting it through repeated cycles of heating and cooling ... make sure the baths are hot enough and that you spend enough time (at least 20 minutes, better 45-60) sweating in bed afterwards ... take enough vitamin C to get the runs (don't fret, they don't last long) ... and do all theses things together in combination ... that'll usually do the job.

OK, that’s it for flu season. I’ll be back in a few weeks with more interesting self-care tips for you.

Stay tuned.