I’m often asked how I stay healthy. My long term healing plan keeps me well on a day-in-day-out basis. I also have tips and tricks for acute situations, like beating a cold or the flu. I use the healing strategies below when anyone in my family begins to feel under the weather. In fact, often when the boys’ friends start to feel something coming on they will ask me for some vitamins, herbs, or a special healing tea.
Here are my Top 10 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies. These tricks are for situations that arise every now and then, and will work extra well if you follow your own regular healing plan for the chronic situation that is “life”.
It’s important to stay well hydrated all year long, and especially when sick. I stay hydrated by drinking filtered water and hot water with lemon. Be sure to stay away from caffeine when you are feeling under the weather as it is dehydrating, and may give you a false burst of energy, rather than allowing you to feel the fatigue that is a congruent warning signal from your body.
Winter (and some climates in general) can be very dry. We are lucky to have a whole-house humidifier (in the house we built) that keeps the air in our home around 25% humidity. When one of the boys comes down with something I put a humidifier in the bedroom, to lubricate air passages during sleep. I learned this from my own parents. They put a humidifier in my room when I was growing up whenever I was sick.
3. Herbal Remedies, Essential Oils, and Propolis
My homemade Ginger Licorice Tea is a family favorite that I’ve made for the boys since they were toddlers. I also keep echinacea, goldenseal, and Wish Garden’s Kick Ass Immune in my pantry. I have essential oils of eucalyptus and peppermint in our showers, so we can throw in a few drops when we’re congested. My friend Helen recently also introduced me to “shower bombs,” little tablets to put on the floor of the shower that contain more potent amounts of essential oils. Additionally, I love this amazing propolis spray from Beekeeper’s Naturals which is the perfect natural remedy for a sore throat.
If you’ve gotten to the point of getting a headache you may need to drink some electrolytes to further rehydrate your system. I use LMNT electrolyte packs and take two per day when I feel like I’m coming down with something, I also continue to use them if I catch a cold or the flu (which rarely occurs). They’re very helpful in staying ahead of dehydration. In addition, the boys often use them on hot days when they have sporting events.
5. Chicken Soup
Drinking “Jewish penicillin,” i.e., chicken soup, nowadays known as bone broth, is a fabulous remedy for colds, sore throats, and flu, as it contains vitamins and minerals. I keep a few quarts of my homemade chicken stock, in the freezer at all times, not just for cooking, but in case any of us come down with something. The last time I had the flu and began to recover, the first thing I wanted to eat when I got my appetite back was my Chicken Soup with homemade, grain-free Matzo Balls.
6. Vitamin C
We take huge doses of vitamin C when we’re not feeling well. The boys will take up to 3,000 milligrams per day orally, and I take up to 5,000 mg per day of this as well. If I’m feeling absolutely awful, I go to one of my doctors and get an IV of vitamin C for up to 50,000 mg.
7. Vitamin D
We also take Vitamin D when we feel as though we are getting sick. One of my favorite doctors told me that taking 30,000 IU of vitamin D when you feel a cold or the flu coming on can stop it in its tracks. Of course, this would be absolutely dangerous to do on a daily basis, but given how infrequently the boys and I get sick it is safe for us to do. My husband keeps a bottle of vitamin D in his briefcase to have on hand for meetings at the office and when he travels.
I take 30 mg of zinc prophylactically every day during cold and flu season. The boys are so cute about taking vitamins and supplements when they don’t feel well. My older guy will say, “Mommy, is my vitamin care package ready?” if he is starting to feel a tickle in his throat but has a baseball game to play. I include the aforementioned vitamins in it as well as zinc.
When all else fails, I do a brief fast and eliminate all sugar, even from natural sources. In general I have become very careful about the amount of sugar that I consume. When I say sugar I refer to foods such as honey and fruit. Even though this is natural, unrefined sugar it is still the sweet stuff that causes inflammation. I am especially vigilant about this when there is any type of sickness going around as sweet foods can lower your immune response. Sometimes I drink green juice (no fruit, extra ginger) or chicken, or beef broth if I wake up a bit congested. Somehow doing this small fast for a few hours can wake up the body’s immune system. The energy freed up from digestion goes toward fighting off a bug.
Sleep is of course important ALL the time. And I make sure the boys and I get plenty of rest year round. We discuss our stress levels together and what we can do to alleviate stress (especially during their final exams) and the first thing that generally comes up is sleep. The boys are great about getting to bed as early as they can and they also sleep late most weekends. I am rather disciplined about my sleep as well, and when I get sick I cancel everything I can in order to stay in bed as much as possible. Rest is amazing medicine!
As you can see from my Top 10 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies, learning self-care can help you on both a daily basis and also whenever you are coming down with something. These tips are fabulous for my family and have helped us recover from cold, sore throat, and flu since the boys were little.
What are your strategies when it comes to fighting off an illness? What tricks do you have up your sleeve? Leave a comment and let us know!
What brand of Vitamin C do you recommend? Thanks for your tips. I need to do all that I can to stay healthy.
Elana Amsterdam says
Hi Jen-I have linked the Vitamin C to the brand we use. :-)
Susan J Randall says
I used a humidifier for my family, it worked well for 2 years but my baby still flu in winter :( i think i should try another way, some of your tips maybe
Whatbrand of vitamin d would your recommend!!! Thank you for sharing all of your tricks with us!!!!
Elana Amsterdam says
Amber, I’ve added a link to the brand of vitamin D that I buy for my family :-)
happy gf says
I use elderberry capsules and organic tea loaded with raw honey, lemon and coconut oil! I like to make chicken soup since its easy to digest and so filling too. For just a sore throat I use apple cider vinegar.
I use 4 drops of sovereign silver under the tongue every hour, when I’m feeling something coming on and Fenu-Thyme by Nature’s Way as a decongestant. I especially find the Fenu-Thyme to help at night; instead of using a night time cough medicine with lots of food dye and alcohol, as I don’t experience any side effects from this natural remedy. Olba’s is a nice strong cough drop if needed.
I tried using Peppermint Essential Oil in the shower this weekend. Wow! Opens up the sinuses and gives a nice lift in energy. Thank you!
love the idea about essential oil in the shower and i will be sure to look into shower bombs. we also take elderberry capsules as a preventive measure.
V. Collins says
I use this recipe that I found in Prevention magazine several years ago. Take the tea all in one day and boom, no more cold! http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/cold-garlic-lemon-honey-tea-colds
Garlic Tea Recipe In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of water and 3 cloves of garlic (cut in half) to a boil. Turn off the heat when the water boils, and add 1/2 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice. Strain. Sip 1/2 cup, warm, three times a day. Refrigerate extra to use the next day.
Christine F says
The stomach bug has recently swept through everyone in my house except me. At the advice of a neighbor, I’ve been drinking 1-2T of Apple Cider Vinegar with 6-8 oz of water every morning, and anytime when my stomach starts to feel funny at all. So far I’m feeling great!
Thanks for the health posting. Love hearing you talk about this subject because your information is always so thorough yet down-to-earth. Thanks for all your good works.