U.S. health officials are predicting a harsh flu season. While there is still no cure for flu, there are steps you can take to reduce suffering while the virus takes its course. Some experts suggest starting the quest to feel better by exploring your local health food store.

Dr. Lawrence Rosen, author of several books based on 25 years of practicing pediatric integrative medicine, is offering some advice to ease flu symptoms. While none of the items mentioned in this article have been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, most have a long history and are relatively inexpensive.

• Curative Foods and Beverages: The digestive tract accounts for 70 to 80 percent of the immune system. When battling a virus, foods rich in vitamin C are essential to immune function. Try drinking a cup of hot water and lemon daily. Onion tea can promote a healthy respiratory system by relieving a cough and sore throat.

Honey, which is a superfood, is a good choice, coating and soothing the throat, helping control cough, and promoting a restful night’s sleep that is necessary for healing.

• Spiced-up Recipes: Add garlic and oregano to foods for immune support. Basil, rosemary and thyme help the respiratory tract.

Try different recipes, too. One traditional bedtime treatment in the Dominican Republic is a paste of honey, finely chopped onion and garlic, and the juice of at least half a lime. The vitamin C content found in its ingredients helps boost immunity.

• Indispensable Oils: Add eucalyptus oil to a bath to ease body aches from flu, or inhale drops added to a steaming bowl of water for clearer nasal passages. Inhale fennel oil similarly as a cough expectorant.

• Homeopathic Medicine: There are few conventional over-the-counter (OTC) drugs specifically for flu symptoms. Antihistamines and decongestants help with head and upper respiratory symptoms that are mostly associated with colds. Flu affects the whole body with fever, chills, aches and fatigue, and a pain reliever can address some of these symptoms.

To shorten both the duration and severity of flu-like symptoms, consider a homeopathic medicine, such as Oscillococcinum. When patients took it within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, nearly 63 percent showed “clear improvement” or “complete resolution” within 48 hours. It’s the number one over-the-counter flu medicine in France, where it’s been on the market for more than 70 years. The key is to take quick action against early symptoms. Recommended for anyone age 2 and up, Oscillo is non-drowsy and doesn’t interact with other medications.

• Healing Herbs and Plants: Homeopathic OTCs use microdoses of plants, animals and minerals; whereas herbal supplements are less diluted with a different therapeutic principle. Astragalus and echinacea supplements purportedly boost immunity. Try teas with eucalyptus leaves or calendula for fever. Elderberry, when taken in extract form, boosts the immune system, which helps the body respond quickly and strongly to viruses such as influenza.

For more information, check out Dr. Rosen’s book, “Treatment Alternatives for Children,” a comprehensive reference guide for nearly 100 common illnesses, offering side-by-side comparisons between conventional and alternative treatment options.

Don’t suffer more than you must this flu season. Homeopathic medications and natural homemade treatments may help reduce the severity of symptoms.