Nature’s Flu Remedy: Antiviral Anti-inflammatory Lemon

Now that flu season has begun, most of us are looking for ways to boost immunity and increase our chances of staying well. For some, this means getting the flu shot, for others it means restocking their arsenal of home remedies, for many it means a combination of both. Among the natural remedies, there seems to be no end to what’s available. But, sometimes it doesn’t take more than opening your refrigerator to uncover one of the best flu fighters of all: the humble lemon.

A slice of lemon in hot tea has been a standard flu remedy for centuries, often associated with other comfort symbols such as furry slippers and warm blankets. But lemon has served as a panacea since ancient times, beginning with the Egyptians, who drank its juice as protection against poisons. The sour-tasting fruit plays a big role in many folk traditions as well, where it is widely appreciated for its antibiotic and anti-nausea properties.

What’s so special about lemons? For starters, lemons are packed with vitamin C and flavonoids, well-known infection-fighting agents that destroy harmful free radicals that cause inflammation. And, while lemon juice itself is acidic (citric acid makes up 8 % of its juice), once it is fully metabolized by the body, it actually has an alkalizing effect. This is a good thing since maintaining a good acid-alkaline balance is essential to proper digestion and overall health, especially if we’re talking about staving off flu.

Lemon can help destroy free radicals that cause inflammation

As a flu remedy, lemon juice has also been shown to combat another nasty flu symptom: congestion in the sinuses and lungs. Not only can lemon juice act as a natural expectorant, it can also reduce inflammation in swollen membranes, helping to prevent these conditions from recurring. And, the fruit’s high acidity can make it difficult for harmful bacteria and viruses to reproduce by either killing them or inhibiting their growth.

Lemons are also a good source of other important minerals including iron, copper, potassium and calcium; all great for fighting flu. You’d be hard-pressed to find a flu remedy in the pharmacy that can beat the little fruit’s double punch of strong immune-building substances combined with so many potent antiviral and antimicrobial properties.

Are you acidic or alkaline? Take the test!

Take this simple test to see where you stand. Combine the juice of one lemon with one cup of hot or warm water. Does it taste sour to you? If it tastes very sour, your body is probably more acidic. If, on the other hand, it doesn’t taste sour at all, your body is most likely more alkaline (which is a much healthier state.) By keeping the ratio of lemon juice to water consistent and taking the drink daily, you should eventually reach a point where the drink doesn’t taste sour at all. You may even enjoy it!

Why wait? Act now and make yourself a flu remedy:

Chop up one lemon, including skin and pulp
Add 1 cup boiling water
Steep for 5 minutes
Strain, add honey to taste and enjoy

Drink this hot ‘lemonade’ three to four times a day throughout your illness. Or, drink a cup every morning during the winter months to help stave off infection.


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About carole funger

I'm a garden designer and Maryland Master Gardener living in the Washington, DC area. I blog about new trends in horticulture, inspiring gardens to visit and the latest tips and ideas for how to nurture your own beautiful garden. Every garden tells a story. What's yours?

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