Top 10 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

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”.

1. Hydration

It’s important to stay well hydrated all year long, and especially when sick. I stay hydrated by drinking plain old filtered water, as well as 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.

2. Humidity

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.

4. Electrolytes

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 stevia sweetened 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.

8. Zinc

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.

9. Fasting

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.

10. Sleep

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!


46 responses to “Top 10 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies”

  1. I usually don’t have to use remedies to help cure illnesses, as I rely on silver water for prevention. I keep it in little spray bottles in purse and coat pockets as well as at home, to have it available at the first inkling that “something ” is coming on. If throat is scratchy I give it a few sprays, swish and swallow. If chest feels tight I spray towards back of throat while inhaling deeply. Stuffy nose gets a spray while sniffing sharply, etc. It is also good for external treatments of things like athletes foot, eye irritation, wound cleaning, etc., and it makes a pretty good deodorant.

    It is quite expensive to buy silver water in the health-food store, so I searched the internet to learn how to make it at home. After a one-time investment in pure silver wire, alligator clips and an aquarium bubbler, I can make it by the quart jar with no other cost than buying distilled water and, occasionally, some nine volt batteries. There are sites that sell expensive devices to make silver water, but it is not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars to make it yourself.

  2. I agree with your tip about taking a higher dose of vitamin C when you’re not feeling well. My husband and I take a daily dose of vitamin C to boost our immune health and take a higher does when we feel ourselves start to get sick. I will have to share the other cold and flu remedies with my husband.

  3. I use grapefruit seed extract drops in juice or water when exposed to sick people to boost immine systen. If I get sick will take drops to help shorten cold. Its ok to take every 4 hours.

  4. 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

  5. Thyme tea is also a potent decongestant. You can brew fresh or dried leaves and then pour the hot brew over a slice of lemon and add a spoon of honey.

    For digestive problems, fennel or chamomile teas are my personal heroes.

  6. I swear by Oil of Oregano when I feel a cold coming on – a couple of drops under the tongue and hold it there for a few seconds before swallowing it followed by a glass of water. I will do this 2 or 3 times a day when really feeling sick and sometimes when I am surrounded by colds from my 5 grandkids I will do it at least once a day for a week or so. I also take 3 capsules daily of Vit. C with citrus bioflavonoids and potent probiotics once or twice a day every day – great for your immune system also! I don’t eat much sugar at all anymore – less than 25 grams a day of fruit and eat only Paleo diet now and have been for 5 yrs since I went gluten- free. I am 69 yrs old and still working and exercising everyday and have the energy I had in my 40’s !!!!

  7. I’m just getting over a really bad cold – something I don’t often get! I take vitamins, scream with essential oils and make bone broth but I am SO SO hungry all the time and find myself craving sweet things. I’ve been eating chocolate, drinking honey sweetened tea and even crisps! Any reason for this hunger? I have heard the saying “Feed a cold, starve a fever”. Thanks for the post Elana X

    • Hi Karen, thanks for your comment and question. Hunger and cravings are very individual and can be rooted in both physiological and psychological issues. You may want to chat with your health care practitioner to dig deeper and look at getting to the bottom of this. If you do, I hope you’ll stop back by and share any discoveries that you have.

  8. We do vitamins and minerals daily as well as garlic and essential oils. I keep garlic softgels with me at all times to ward off any colds as well as onguard essential oils softgels and beadlets in my purse. Usually between the two of these and some of that jewish penicillin I am good to go. I will use a drop of peppermint oil on the back of my throat as well to clear my sinuses and any post nasal drip.

  9. I simmer chicken broth with a big knob of ginger and a few smashed cloves of garlic, sometimes some red pepper flakes and lemon juice as well, and drink it all. I call it my “sick soup” and it always feels nourishing when I’m under the weather.

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