Herbfacts
Young woman with the flu wearing a blue woolly hat, blowing her nose with a tissue in a snowy scene

Q & A: Flu prevention tactics

‘The flu season is well under way and I wonder if there is anything I can do to protect myself from going down with it this winter?’

Here are some top tips from medical herbalist Gabriella Clarke to help you steer clear of a bout of flu and what to do if you do catch it.

HAVE A FLU JAB

It may not be 100 per cent effective and you may not like the idea of it but for those with chronic medical problems, young children and the elderly it’s a sensible option.

HYGIENE IS KEY

Wash hands regularly, especially after being in shared spaces.

SNEEZE AND COUGH CAREFULLY

Do this into the crook of your elbow rather than your hands and encourage others to do the same. This part of the body rarely comes into contact with anything or anyone, so germs residing there are less likely to infect others.

WATCH YOUR DIET

Keep your immune system in tip-top condition by eating plenty of fruit and veg rich in vitamin C. Avoid excess sugar as it harms your gut health. Remember 70 per cent of your immune system is in your gut so include plenty of bug-busting garlic in your diet.

SUPPLEMENT IT

Go for immune-boosting supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc. Echinacea and pelargonium are the best herbs to help both prevent and treat colds and flu. Make sure you stock up on supplements, herbs, painkillers, decongestants, tissues etc before you get sick, although hopefully you won’t need them.

IF YOU DO FIND YOU GO DOWN WITH FLU

The best cure is stay at home and rest and sleep, which will ensure a speedier recovery and mean you don’t infect others. Make sure you stay hydrated and eat nutritious soups. Painkillers will help treat aches and fevers.

Try sipping a hot lemon and ginger drink, add a spoon of honey to ease a sore throat or chew on sage leaves. Elderflower tea can bring down a fever while elderberry syrup will help boost the immune system.