There are many small things we can do to help support each other through a flu. We can collectively work to understand “When I am sick, what is my body trying to accomplish, what does it need to do to get better?” and then we work to support those tasks. Fever is created by the immune system to physiologically aid the process of dissolving and clearing out what has become too isolated, too stuck, too cooled in our own body. Inflammatory reactions—also part of the immune system’s activity—work to recognize and remove those things that do not belong in us, which is why we get inflammations during infections with viruses and bacteria (even if we get a splinter in our finger). It is possible to guide and support the body to accomplish its tasks. The suggestions listed below are helpful for illnesses or influenza-type illnesses with strong fever.
One way to help reduce the chances of getting ill is to proactively give the body what it needs. Warmth, whether physical, emotional, or social, helps integrates us into a whole. That’s not just a physiologic process—helping others in our community by sharing useful information is a social and spiritual correlate to that process. Right now is a time in the world when we need to think about how we help each other, not just get stuck in fear. Consider sharing this with others in your community.
Please note: this is offered as general educational material and is not intended to replace the evaluation and guidance of a trained medical professional. You should always seek help if someone seems to be seriously ill, if you are worried, or if things are not progressing as you expect. Both Coronavirus and influenza can have life-threatening complications. Be safe and smart about your own care. If you or a loved one are showing signs of Coronavirus, contact your health care provider and follow the guidelines from your state and local Department of Health.
But here are some places you can start…
Things to do at the beginning of a flu illness (or when you think you are headed that way and want to support good immunity and vitality):
Slow Down and go to bed if you are sick /go to bed early if you are on the edge of illness: Fear of missing work or school, of inconveniencing other people, or interrupting our own busy schedules too often drives people to eliminate any symptoms as soon as possible. But feeling sick and taking some ibuprofen to get through the rest of the day is not a good strategy for getting through a flu. It hampers your immune system and spreads illnesses (you are often most contagious when you are just starting to get sick). Instead:
- Really slow down and rest quietly, without excessive stimulation. Movies, music, email, Facebook and Netflix are still giving you a very rich “sensory diet”—which takes energy. Cut out non-essential stress or stimulation.
- If you or someone in your family has a fever or the flu, allow space and time for deep, uninterrupted sleep. Don’t rush back into usual activities and responsibilities as soon as some of your symptoms are gone—that increases your chance of relapse and complications like pneumonia.
Support and Protect your Warmth: Remember, our immune system creates fever because it is an important tool of the immune system. When you block fever you are actually reducing the way your immune system can work with an infection:
- Physically: put on enough layers of clothes so that you have consistently warm hands and feet. If this is not enough, add a hat, hot tea, blankets, or a hot water bottle. Children’s bodies are small and they always need at least an extra layer of clothing compared to the adults around them (if you are comfortable in a shirt, put the child in a sweater and hat). This step is especially important at the beginning of a flu illness, when fever is usually rising.
- The best thing you can do when a fever is rising is to help the whole body be warmed, because that is what the immune system is trying to do. You can find a helpful guide for working with fever here: https://www.anthromedics.org/PRA-0807-EN#list-sections-3
- Warmth from natural fibers (such as wool and silk) is best.
- Reflexively medicating with Tylenol or Ibuprofen just because there is an elevated temperature should be avoided.
- Try not to get stuck in fear—fear makes us cool, harden, and contract, the opposite of what our body really needs to accomplish to work through a flu. See Dr. Blanning’s article Fever, Fear and Riding a Bicycle: Working with Fever in a Different Way
Cleansing: When you are ill, your body naturally reorients its activity to reduce the amount of outside substances and influences it has to deal with so that it can focus on the illness at hand.
- You can support this process through a simple diet: protein should be avoided; instead teas, vegetable broths or soups, and simple grains can be given. If someone does not have an appetite, don’t force them to eat, but do make sure they are still drinking.
- Lots of warm fluids should be taken, particularly Equisetum (Horsetail) Tea, which is useful for both hydration as well as cleansing the kidney system. Thyme, Elderberry blossom, Lime blossom, and Sage teas (possibly with honey and lemon) are also good for respiratory congestion.
- No caffeine, alcohol, white sugar or processed foods.
- When there is high fever it is a good idea to clean out your digestive system with a dose of Milk of Magnesia or a glycerin suppository. This is especially important if you tend towards constipation or a sluggish digestion.
Natural Medicines to help you get through the flu*:
these are anthroposophic or homeopathic preparations (OTC = available over-the-counter, Rx = prescription; TB = True Botanica pharmacy, Ur = Uriel pharmacy, We = Weleda pharmacy)”
For both prophylaxis (prevention) and treatment of flu:
Meteoric Iron Prunus pellets or ampules (OTC, Ur)
- For prevention, take 5-10 pellets, once a day
- For treatment of flu symptoms, 5-10 pellets, 3-5 times a day
Apis Belladonna pellets or liquid (OTC, Ur and We, also known as Erysidoron #1, Rx, We)
- most helpful in the early stages of a fever, especially when the head is hot but the feet and hands are cool.
- Given as a drop/pellet per year of age, up to 10 drops/pellets for an older child or adult. Can be given up to every two hours.
For Fever and Chills, body aches, bronchitis:
Gelsemium Bryonia pellets (OTC, Ur), especially if feeling weak, pale, with dull headache
- Children 5 pellets, Adults 10 pellets, up to 5x/day
Infludo liquid or Infludoron pillules (Rx, We), for flu symptoms that are more in the airways, and for prevention of pneumonia:
- Children 10-20 drops of Infludo liquid in ½ cup of water, sip slowly through the day, or ages 1-5, 3-5 Infludoron pillules every two hours, ages 6-12, 5-10 pillules up to every two hours
- Adults 8-10 drops of Infludo liquid up to every 2 hours, 10-15 Infludoron pillules up to every two hours
For muscle aches, headache that comes with strong fever:
Arnica 30x (widely available OTC), can be used up to five times a day
For Swollen Glands, congestion:
Archangelica oil (OTC, TB), Archangelica Eucalyptus ointment (OTC, Ur and We)
- Rub into swollen gland 2-3 times a day
In the Recovery Phase:
Blackthorn Tonic (OTC, TB) or Prunus liquid (OTC, Ur, We), Prunus body oil (OTC, Ur)
It is good to get these medicines so that you have them on hand when you need them—don’t wait until you are already in bed with the a fever!
Wrapped compresses: for bronchitis and working to prevent pneumonia.
- e.g., Wrapped quark (curd, or “Farmer’s cheese”) compresses. These have been found to be very helpful. Note: American cottage cheese, with the liquid squeezed out, can serve as a replacement if you are unable to find quark. For instructions, see: http://www.pflege-vademecum.de/qbw.php
- Wrapped mustard compresses can be helpful for the elderly and those who are bed-ridden, though it is a strong treatment and needs to be done with caution and care, as the mustard can actually burn the skin if the compress is left in place for too long. Mustard compresses are best done with the guidance or assistance of someone experienced in this process. Have an anthroposophic nurse in your community? For instructions, see: http://www.pflege-vademecum.de/senf-thorax-wickel.php
- Wrapped ginger compresses bring a deep, lasting, penetrating warmth, for when you are inwardly chilled but not having a strong fever reaction.
For instructions, see: http://www.pflege-vademecum.de/itrw.php
Inhalations: which can be done simply by making a tent with a towel draped over an open bowl:
- Table salt steam inhalation: for mild obstructive bronchitis
- Herbal Steam inhalation with chamomile flowers, thyme tea, for congestion and sinus pressure.
- Keep yourself dressed warmly enough that you cannot get a chill; especially protect your chest and neck from getting cold. This is helpful before (preventatively), during, and for some time after an illness
- Take the time you need to recover, allow things to be “soft” and slow for a while
- Seek help when you need it
- If you are well, make someone else who is sick a pot of soup
*Some of the descriptions about medicines and nursing treatments listed here draw from more complete information, including many nursing treatment descriptions at www.vademecum.org. Dr. Blanning has no financial ties to any of the pharmacies listed, though they provide unrestricted educational grants to the Physicians’ Association (PAAM), where Dr. Blanning organizes training programs to teach other doctors about Anthroposophic medicine and its therapies.
If you live outside of the Denver/Boulder area, you can find a directory of anthroposophic doctors, nurses and therapists at www.AnthroposophicHealth.org.