The flu virus is a perfect example of when complementary medicines like homeopathy could make a big difference. Why bother? Because according to WebMD, which cites the Centre for Disease Control, the 2018/19 flu vaccine was only 29% effective for the entire flu season—and the previous year, the CBC podcast White Coat Black Art discusses the problems associated with recommending a flu vaccine when its effectiveness was under 20% for that year—it’s well worth a listen. And if you do get the flu, there’s a lot more you can do than just rest in bed–this is where homeopathy comes in as a perfect complementary medicine.
Homeopathy actually has a long history of efficacy for influenza. During the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak, which was so virulent it killed between 20-50 million people, hospital records show that homeopathy was far more effective than conventional pharmaceuticals. “Fifteen hundred cases were reported at the Homeopathic Medical Society of the District of Columbia with but fifteen deaths. Recoveries in the National Homeopathic Hospital were 100%,” recorded by E.F. Sappington, M.D. Philadelphia. Interested in learning more about surviving flu epidemics in the past, present and future? Sandra Perko has written an interesting book on The Homeopathic Treatment of Influenza. The facts are that the top homeopathic medicines that were used back then are still some of the top flu remedies today.
How is homeopathy different?
Homeopathy works best as a highly personalized medicine, so what may be effective for one person may not be the ideal choice for another. The best suited medicine is selected according to the symptoms a person experiences rather than by disease diagnosis. Be aware that homeopathy essentially works with the body’s innate ability to heal itself, stimulating the immune system instead of “treating” the flu like anti-viral medications might. It does not “kill” viruses or bacteria, but rather strengthens the body so it helps you recover faster and more fully from an illness. The advantage of this is that when you start to feel better—the fever slows, pain eases—it means that you are on the mend. Note that home remedies are really only recommended for symptoms of the flu that range from mild to medium intensity. If symptoms are severe, seek medical attention for a more accurate diagnosis.
Choose the best suited medicine:
Gelsemium 30c is the number one homeopathic remedy for the flu when exhaustion is the main symptom. Typical flu symptoms, like chills up and down the back, aching muscles and headaches, especially a heavy, dull ache at the back of the head which extends to the neck and shoulders, suggest Gelsemium is a good fit. The person may feel weak and light headed on rising. Gelsemium was by far the number one remedy used during the Spanish Flu epidemic, with Bryonia being the second most common remedy used.
Bryonia 30ch is a more suitable medicine when pain is the overriding symptom. You may also feel exhausted and lie still, but aching muscles that are aggravated by any sort of motion stands in the forefront. Headaches that suggest Bryonia would help tend to be more intense than a Gelsemium-type headache, with bursting or splitting headaches localizing over the forehead, sinuses and eyes. There may be nausea with a dry mouth, and tremendous thirst for large quantities.
There are a great many more homeopathic remedies for the flu, but I have had such good results with even just these two little remedies that I prefer not to recommend more options unless you have some experience using homeopathy and choosing remedies for yourself and your family. If you do, another excellent article on homeopathy for the flu is on the British Homeopathic Association website. Or take a look at this list put out by the National Center for Homeopathy.
One more mention is for a somewhat generic flu remedy put out by Boiron called Oscillococcinum. I like to add this one because it tends to work in the very beginning of a flu, when symptoms may not be clear yet. It happens to be the number one over the counter flu medicine in France and is often recommended by pharmacists since homeopathy is more integrated into the medical system in France than it is here in North America.
Some studies also show that it is effective in reducing the length of illness, but it is best if you give it early on. While I personally don’t have much experience with it, I know people who swear by it.
As a home remedy, take the medicine as directed on the label, or put 3-5 pills on or under the tongue about 15 minutes before food or drink (water is fine). Repeat every 4-8 hours until symptoms subside. If there is not even the slightest improvement after 3-4 doses or so, then you likely need to switch the medicine to find a better fit. If you feel a slight improvement, take the medicine less often. If you feel 90% better after one dose—or two—stop taking the remedy altogether, and take only when symptoms return. Homeopathic remedies tend to work much faster if you take them early on, and more slowly if you take them later on during the illness—this is because the body takes longer to heal from a flu that has dug itself into the body than when it’s just beginning.
Homeopathy helps recovery after the flu:
If you feel like you haven’t been able to gather your strength since the flu—or after any infection like pneumonia—homeopathy is an excellent way to get your mojo back. Because there are a great many homeopathic remedies to help recovery and you may need a series of remedies to get you back on track, constitutional care by a professional homeopath is recommended. Find a homeopath near you who has at least 3 years of training in homeopathy specifically rather than someone who uses homeopathy as an adjunct to other therapies if you want best results. While homeopathic medicines tend to work quickly to help you feel better while you have the flu, in my opinion, constitutional treatment is where homeopathy shines, because it raises a person’s level of health to help you feel truly healthy over the long term.