Flu Fighting Favorites for Pregnancy

It's getting close to the colder months as we wind down summer and that means it's time to start thinking about prenatal flu remedies.  Why now and not in winter?  Now is when we prevent our bodies from being overtaken by cold and flu viruses, especially if you've been indulging a little too much this year.  A body that is balanced and working well is a body that doesn't "get sick."  Getting sick basically means the body is using so much of it's energy for other tasks that it is incapable of destroying bodily invaders be it viral or bacterial (keeping in mind that most bacterial infections are actual bacterium that are already present in our body and simply outgrow the good bacteria).

Preventing the Need for Prenatal Flu Remedies

First things first, prevent yourself from getting sick.  Eat the whole rainbow - meaning whole foods of all colors.  Sprout your grains and legumes, if you eat processed foods - process them yourself and limit your consumption (including breads... especially breads and bread-like foods).

Significantly limit or eliminate processed sugar and sugar alternatives.  Sugar causes inflammation.  Inflammation is our body's way of healing, it is a significant part of our immune system; however, when our body is always inflamed because of a food we eat (or other illness, or damaging air and chemicals or...or...), that means our white blood cells and immune system are working where they shouldn't be working, especially when we're met with a virus.

Eat your greens, especially.  All the colors are important, this is important to remember.  The color of your food determines the phytonutrients and minerals, and whatever else we don't know scientifically, in your food that gives it its nourishing abilities.  Green, however, is the one food source available in all habitable places at all times of the year.  All the other colors are sporadic and seasonal to a different degree.  Different green foods will grow at different times, but this color is significant.  This color is created from substances that clean and heal your body, improve your detoxification and digestive systems (needed for toxin elimination), and boost your immune and anti-inflammatory systems.

Support detoxification and digestion.  This should go without saying but I want to reiterate this here.  Your digestive system, especially over time, will create gaps between the unourished cells and allow allergens to move through the intestinal walls if you're not always eating whole and balanced.  Everyone will have a varying degree of this happening, some more than others due to lifestyle choices (including movement).  Breads, pastas, and processed foods (including dairy) wreak havoc on the digestive system, especially in high amounts.  Reduce these, if not eliminating.

Bone Stock Prenatal Flu Remedy

When prevention doesn't cut it, heal it with food... seriously, "let thy food be thy medicine."  We prevent by eating well and we heal by eating well; there is no other safer option for pregnancy or any other time.  If you're worried about any herbal or medicinal remedies, stay on top of the lifestyle choice game.  Beyond that, let's start with a basic food staple; bone stock.  More robust than chicken or beef broth which is made with the meat and water; bone stock contains the gelatin and collogen from the ligaments and the minerals from the bones.  The minerals support the body, of course, but this gelatin and collogen help to heal the digestive system to reduce inflammation and allergens from leaking through the intestines which can cause chronic inflammation, i.e. constant immune system activation (and less immune system fighting those viruses of which you're coming into contact).   You can also add in organ meats, vegetables, and herbs to your bone stock to enhance the flavor and body supporting abilities.

Basic Bone Stock

  • Leftover bones (Best way to accomplish this is to buy a whole chicken, roast it, pull off the meat and store the bones in the freezer until you have enough to use or make small batches at a time)
  • Spices and vegetables as desired (peppercorns, garlic cloves, chopped onions, carrots and vegetable peels, mushrooms, nettles, bay leaf - which needs to be removed after cooking...etc.)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar optional

In a large pot, or a crock pot, add your bones and spices.  Cover with enough water to have about 1 inch of water above your bones.  Add about 1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar per quart of water.  Cook on low, covered, for 3-4 hours or overnight in a crock pot.  The vinegar is optional, but will help pull minerals from the bones faster for reduced cooking times.  Strain and jar your bone stock in glass jars.  They'll last at least a week in the fridge for cooking into rice or making soup or drinking as a tea.

Fire Cider Prenatal Flu Remedy

Fire Cider is a very very old food preparation commonly made by herbalists and gardeners alike.  While you may find some trademarked look alikes, rest assure you can #freefirecider and make this in the comfort of your own home for a fraction of the cost and keep this tradition alive.  Take some of the most basic food spices you utilize and preserve them in Apple Cider Vinegar for whole body bacterial balance and immune support, as well as a tastey addition to soups and salads.

Fire Cider

  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Head Garlic
  • 1 Cayenne Pepper (or +/- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder per jar to taste).  Other hot peppers can be substituted at varying amounts according to their scoville unit - no need to overdo this.
  • Approximately 1/4 Cup Horseradish Root, Chopped
  • Approximately 1 Small Ginger Root, Chopped
  • 16 oz. Raw/Unfiltered Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg's is a good brand - use the best or this won't be a healing food)
  • Raw local-to-you Honey, to taste

Chop everything together - use a food processor if you'd like.  Fill glass jars 3/4 of the way with the chopped vegetables.  Pour Apple Cider Vinegar over to fill the jar and place a tight-fitting lid over top.  Let this mixture macerate... infuse... for a minimum of 2 weeks (though you can start using it anytime, it just won't be as strong) and 4 weeks is better.  After 4 weeks, strain and compost your chopped vegetables.  Blend raw local honey to taste.  ***This will be SPICEY without honey and should only be used in small amounts at a time - think medicinal quality***.  Bottle your #FireCider for storage in a cool dark place for about a year or so.  Note: Many prefer to leave the honey out for varied options such as adding a tablespoon to soups, a teaspoon

***Note: Many prefer to leave the honey out for varied options such as adding a tablespoon to soups, a teaspoon to tea, or to blend with honey and/or olive oil as desired at the time of use.  This is very very intense without honey.  In some cases, this intensity (no more than a small shot glass full) can be an amazing remedy for sinus pressure, head colds, and sinus infections.  This intensity is not ideal for all, especially for mothers who may be suseptible to uterine contractions or a history of miscarriage and it is not advised to use it in these strong quantities during pregnancy.  In many cases, itt may just cause heart burn with this strength and isn't needed to be a quality kitchen remedy.  Don't mistake the mild flavor honey (or tea or soup) can bring to this delightful remedy, it still carries the immune boosting properties when blended.

Increase Vitamin A and C Prenatal Flu Remedy

Fire Cider is packed full of Vitamin C and one of the many reasons it is a wonderful remedy to have on hand.  Vitamins A and C are both amazing for the immune system and can be easily obtained from many delicious foods.  Keep in mind, we're not talking about enriched, fortified foods here like ascorbic acid.  We're talking the real deal from real whole foods.

  • Orange & Yellow Fruits & Vegetables such as lemons, peppers, oranges, carrots, sweet potato, squash and similar.
  • Greens such as nettles, red raspberry leaf, kale, spinach, seaweed and similar, especially bitter tasting greens that stimulate digestion and whole body function.

Don't just opt for the fruits themselves.  Spend your money on organic or wild gathered foods so you're not taxing your detoxification system with pesticides and include the bitter peels that stimulate the liver (the toxin-cleansing organ), kidneys, and digestive system.  Keep in mind, also, that essential oils of citrus such as lemon in your water is not only damaging to the digestive system due to the inability to mix with water, but the oils don't contain Vitamin C - they have beneficial properties, but are better eating with the fruit itself as a whole food.


Nettle Infusion Prenatal Flu Remedy

Nettles is AMAZING!  Have you heard this before from me?  If not, scour around Esali Birth a bit more!  Nettles is packed full of vitamins and minerals - more amazing than Red Raspberry Leaf - and both of these together make a wonderful prenatal tea.  Nettles is believed by many herbalists to be the only herb needed for any ailment.  It is anti-inflammatory, helpful in reducing chronic inflammation and seasonal allergies when taken for long term.  It provides the body with most of the vitamins and minerals needed for whole body function during pregnancy and beyond.  Steep 1 teaspoon of the dried leaf in 1 cup of water for at least 10 minutes (better to just make a whole quart at a time letting it infuse longer than 10 minutes if you have time) and drink 3 cups daily for prevention, and 1/4 cup every 15 minutes when you're not feeling well.

Also, add this to bone stocks, soups, rice or any other nourishing foods you're eating preventatively or throughout an illness.  Makes a great tea when nothing else sounds good warm or iced (though warm is better during an illness).


Echinacea Prenatal Flu Remedy

Echinacea, while widely known as a cold and flu remedy, actually has very little scientific support as a general immune system booster and is being rapidly diminished as an herbal plant due to its over-harvest (often being harvested for its roots).  If you have allergies in the asteracea family, this one is not for you, but otherwise when used as needed can be very helpful for getting symptoms under control.  When it is used, people often use it daily as a tonic, which is not needed and possibly harmful, or blended with goldenseal which can be harsh on the internal system especially in this excessive use.  Goldenseal, with the exception of specific circumstances we won't be covering in this post, should not be used during pregnancy because of its strong bitter an alkaloid content.  The key to using Echinacea root is to take a 1/4 dropper of tincture or bring 1 tsp dried root  in 1 cup of water to boil and simmer for 10 minutes, drinking 2-3 times daily at the very first signs of upper respiratory infection, flu or cold symptoms which may stimulate white blood cell production.  If the symptoms progress, discontinue use.


Elderberry Prenatal Flu Remedies

When we're talking the actual flu, Elderberry reins supreme and what you'd reach for when those first symptoms have already passed.  Sambucus nigra, elderberry, has many many medicinal uses from its flowers to leaves and the tasty treat we'll explore here, the berries.  Black elderberry is widely used for its antiviral properties for both reducing symptoms of viral infections as well as reducing duration by increasing cytokine production.

Elderberry can be used in tincture, tea, tablet, or more well known as a syrup.  Dried berries can be simmered for 2-3 minutes to reconstitute and then squeezed in a cheesecloth to express the juice.  This can be taken in teaspoon form, or more commonly blended with honey, to taste (though usually kept rather sour) to sweeten and used as a syrup, in tea, or in a spoonful at 1 teaspoon 2-3 times daily.


General Herbal Prenatal Flu Remedies

You really can't just find a list of "this herb is good for this condition" and go from that.  To make them really work, you need to know a little about your personal constituents and the nature of your symptoms.  Also follow how you feel.  If you're hot, use cooling herbs and food.  If you're cold, use warming herbs and food.  Use the following chart as a guide to better selecting herbal remedies for cold and flu.

Herb Choice Gen. Support Prevention Onset Cough & Throat Congestion
Slippery Elm X
Marshmallow X
Nettles X X X X X
Fire Cider
Raw Local Honey X
Ginger-Lemon Tea


Stress Relief Prenatal Flu Remedies

Last, but not least... but here instead of first because I want to make sure you really remember this one... it is quite important.  Stress beats down the immune system like nothing else.  When we're stressed, we don't eat well, sleep well, or act well.  When we don't eat well, our cells and immune system isn't nourished.  If we don't sleep well, our whole system is taxed and most importantly, our detoxification system will not rid the toxins in our system to allow our energy to be used for healing.  All of this stresses our adrenals and causes us to have hormonal and mood fluctuations preventing normal daily function almost impossible.

  • Take it easy.
  • Take time off... work, parenting, "life"ing as my good friend would say. Find someone to help with the kids, the chores, the errands, the everything.  If nothing else, try working from home if at all possible.  We're in a new era - ask your boss, you never know what might be possible.  It happened with me and I never thought it was possible!
  • Become friends with fever.  Fever is the body's way of killing viruses and bacteria.  High fevers aren't ideal, no - but neither is downing OTC or Rx medications.  Benefits of fever is a post for another day, but do some research here and you may find a lot of valuable info. as to the amazing abilities of your body (and your baby's).
  • Sleep and allow your body to fast for a short period of time if that's what it desires.  Short periods of fasting when craved by the body is the body's way of screaming "I need my energy for something other than digestion."  Take food back to basics, sip on bone broth for hydration and electrolyte balance and nourishment, and you'll be back to ravenous eating in no time.  The key here is to make the food you do consume count so that your body can handle a little stress.


What is your favorite prenatal flu remedies?