Sipping on hot tea is not only comforting while you have the flu but also helpful to your immune system, making your symptoms a little more manageable and helping you get over the flu faster. Drink the most effective teas often while you have symptoms or even throughout flu season as a preventive measure. You can buy fresh herbs to boil tea with a strainer or buy tea in teabags from the store. Herbs can have interactions with certain medications and other herbs, so check with your doctor before drinking herbal tea.
Green tea contains an antioxidant called quercetin and an amino acide called L-theanine that help your body fight the flu. These compounds are also found in black tea and oolong tea, which are processed from green tea. Quercetin has an anti-viral effect that has been shown to fight viruses causing the common cold. In a study published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" in 2013, quercetin was found to inhibit the replication of a common cold virus in its initial stage of infection. An 8-ounce cup of green tea contains 25 milligrams of caffeine, so be mindful not to exceed the daily amount of caffeine recommended by the American Medical Association, which is 200 to 300 milligrams. Unlike herbal teas, green tea contains caffeine, and side effects could include nausea and vomiting, anxiety, depression, restlessness and difficulty sleeping.
Elderberry, also called elder flower, is an herb used to treat respiratory infections, like the flu. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, elderberry tea -- whether it's made from the flower or the berries -- contains compounds that reduce inflammation in mucous membranes, which can possibly alleviate nasal congestion. The tea is also purported to have anti-viral properties. According Dr. Linda B. White, writing in "Mother Earth News" in 2008, red elderberries are toxic. Purple elderberries are nontoxic but less effective than the black elderberries, which really boost your immune system and fight the flu.
White reports that echinacea is another herb to take as a flu remedy because it has been found to reduce the severity of viral infections and even shorten the duration of infection. For best results, you need to drink echinacea tea as soon as you feel flu symptoms. If someone you live with catches the flu, it's a good idea to start drinking echinacea tea regularly.
Licorice Root Tea
If you have a particularly sore, scratchy throat, you want to drink licorice root tea to help soothe it. It contains anti-inflammatory properties, which can reduce painful swelling in the throat. Licorice root also helps your body expel mucus from the respiratory tract. Best of all, it has a sweet, delicious flavor. While drinking 6 cups of licorice root tea in a day has been found to alleviate throat pain, it's not recommended you drink it regularly over a long period of time. Consuming it for more than a month could cause water retention and potassium deficiency, so this herbal tea is best used as a remedy just while you're sick with the flu.
- AARP: 9 Natural Flu-Fighting Foods
- Journal of Medicinal Food: Anti-human Rhinovirus 2 Activity and Mode of Action of Quercetin-7-Glucoside from Lagerstroemia Speciosa
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Elderberry
- Mother Earth News: Natural, Effective Remedies for Colds and Flu
- MedlinePlus: Caffeine in the Diet
- Caffeine Informer: Green Tea
Karen McCarthy is a health enthusiast with expertise in nutrition, yoga and meditation. She currently studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has been writing about nutrition since 2012. She is most passionate about veganism and vegetarianism and loves to promote the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.