Home remedies for cold and flu gave natural relief for ages, so give them a try today for your own good!
Common Home Remedies for Cold and Flu You Can Try
Of all the home remedies for cold and flu lemon must be the most popular. From honey to ginger tea, they all make great home remedies for cold and flu mixed with lemons.
Since it’s so acidic, it renders the mucous membranes unfit for bacteria and viruses. Lemon oil contains antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
The oil also acts as an expectorant. Follow these steps to make a flu-fighting fruit drink:
- Place 1 chopped lemon — skin, pulp, and all — into 1 cup boiling water
- While the lemon steeps, inhale the steam for 5 minutes
- Strain, add honey (to taste), and enjoy
- Drink hot lemonade three to four times a day throughout your illness
2. Milk and Turmeric
Besides ginger tea or masala chai, warm milk and turmeric mixture ranks among the top of natural cold remedies. Turmeric and milk are also healthy ingredients which promote healthy living.
If you’ve into Ayurvedic home remedies for cold and cough, this mixture is right up your alley.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an effective antimicrobial agent. In fact, it produces 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body. Thus killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
In the United States, the late winter average vitamin D level is only about 15-18 ng/ml, which is a serious deficiency state. It’s estimated over 95% of U.S. senior citizens may be deficient, along with 85% of the American public.
4. The Pillow Prop
Make gravity work in your favor to help ease the nasal pressure. “Raising your head when congested helps to drain sinus passages,” says Dr. Neil Schachter. Using an extra pillow or two to lift your upper body can keep things moving in the right direction.
5. Orange Juice
Do you crave orange juice when you’re sick? That’s because it’s full of vitamin C, which may help shorten a cold’s duration and work as a natural decongestant.
Aim for 500 mg of vitamin C four times a day as a part of your home remedies for cold and flu. A cup of OJ has 124 mg. Other good sources of vitamin C include strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli.
6. Ginger Tea
Drink a cup of ginger tea because it’s one the effective home remedies for cold and flu. Ginger helps block the production of substances causing bronchial congestion and stuffiness.
Additionally, it contains compounds called gingerols, which are natural cough suppressants.
Peppermint is a valuable expectorant in the treatment of bronchitis, colds, and flu. It reduces fevers by inducing sweating and cooling the body.
Use it as a painkiller for headaches and some migraines. It is also a soothing decongestant and makes an effective inhalation for clearing blocked sinuses.
8. Camphor, Eucalyptus, and Menthol
One of the common home remedies for cold and flu is a combination of camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol. Camphor is often as topical pain relievers and muscle ache creams.
Eucalyptus leaf or oil is used both as a food flavoring and in many medicinal applications. Eucalyptus can help treat breathing problems, pain and inflammation, burns and ulcers, and even cancer.
Menthol is a flavoring in lozenges for sore throats and coughs or as a soothing ingredient in anti-itch creams and medications for the mouth. The three are often combined in OTC ointments for nasal congestion and cough suppression (NIH, 2012).
9. Spice Up Your Cooking
Go with your instincts here because any flavor which provokes a reaction deep in your chest is one that can (according to the wives of yore) shift a nasty cold or flu. Add chilies, cayenne pepper, ginger, cloves, and horseradish liberally to anything you rustle up.
Why eat a turkey and tomato sandwich when you can sprinkle on some chilies and cloves to beat the flu while eating. For more palatable options, try boiling water with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and cloves (add whiskey or bourbon if you’re at the tail end of your flu and having trouble getting to sleep).
You can also mix together cider vinegar, honey, cayenne pepper and ginger into your cough syrup. Finally, homemade chicken soup (preferably cooked with love by your mother) is the perfect treatment for ailments of both body and soul.
A powerhouse natural antibiotic, antifungal, and antibacterial, garlic can tackle almost any illness. For the most potent effect, finely mince 1-2 cloves of garlic and float in a small glass of water.
Drink quickly — if you are sick enough, you won’t even notice the taste.
Note: Pregnant women should not take more than 1 clove of garlic medicinally per day and children often resist this remedy.
11. Green Tea
Green tea has many properties to help keep you in tip-top shape and better prepared to ward off cold and flu bugs. The jury is out on how many cups of tea are optimal but two to three per day are often recommended.
If you do come down with cold or flu symptoms (or feel them coming on), consider 3-4 cups of green tea per day. This will help rid your body of those nasty bugs and give your body’s defenses an extra jolt.
12. Echinacea (Goldenseal)
Echinacea (E. angustifolia, Purpurea, and pallida) is the best-researched herb for enhancing immune defenses to help prevent respiratory tract infections. In fact, several well-designed studies support the use of this herb for the treatment of acute viral upper respiratory infections.
A controversial 2005 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, on the other hand, concluded that extracts of the E. angustifolia root didn’t significantly affect viral infections. But, the American Botanical Council noted the dosage used in the study was lower than the amount recommended by WHO, as well as the Canadian Natural Health Products Directorate.
Two more recent meta-analyses concluded that echinacea did reduce the duration and incidence of the common cold, though.
What is Echinacea? They are also called coneflowers which are commonly found in the wild or in a garden landscape. They are showy flowers with several yellow, pink, or white petals around a spiky center. Learn more here.
Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring temporary relief. So try a teaspoon of salt dissolved in warm water, four times daily.
To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle, such as tea, which contains tannins, to tighten the membranes. Or use a thick, viscous gargle made with honey, sage and cayenne pepper all of which are slightly antiseptic.
Steep fresh sage leaves with the cayenne in 100 ml of just boiled water for 10 minutes. Then add about 50 ml of honey.
You can also add a pinch of salt and some cider vinegar to help loosen phlegm. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before gargling, though.
14. Chicken Soup
The chicken soup is one of the time-honored home remedies for cold and flu that is tried and tested, by far. It stops certain white blood cells from congregating and causing inflammation, thus preventing large amounts of mucus from being produced.
The hot soup also thins the mucus. Adding freshly chopped garlic to your soup gives the system a powerful boost, too.
While garlic kills germs outright, it also appears to stimulate the release of natural killer cells. They are part of the immune system’s arsenal of germ-fighters.
Spike your soup with red (chili) pepper flakes to increase the broth’s decongestant power as well.
A hacking cough can keep you and every other household member up all night so, keep the peace with honey. Honey is part of the long history in traditional Chinese medicine for cough and cold, indeed.
It’s a simple enough recipe: Mix 1 tablespoon honey into 1 cup hot water, stir well and enjoy. From this idea, you can make more homemade cold remedies with honey.
Honey acts as a natural expectorant, promoting the flow of mucus. You may also squeeze some lemon in if you want a little tartness.
No, not the kind favored by Harold and Kumar, but the white button mushrooms (90% of the ‘shrooms eaten in the United States) which contain powerful immunity-boosting effects. This is according to two studies from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.
These fabulous fungi increase the production of antiviral proteins which destroys or deactivate the foreign invaders that make you sick.
Whole grains, like oatmeal, contain selenium, zinc, and beta-glucan to help support your immune system and fend off cold and flu infections.
You can also add a generous dollop of yogurt because its probiotics may help keep the virus from settling into your respiratory system.
18. Humidify Your Home
Ever wonder why the flu tends to strike in the colder months? Part of the reason is your furnace.
Artificial heat lowers humidity, creating an environment that allows the influenza virus to thrive. (Colder outside air also pushes people together in confined indoor spaces, making it easier for the flu bug to spread).
Adding some moisture to the air in your home during the winter with a warm- or cool-mist humidifier may not only help prevent the spread of flu, but it may also make you feel more comfortable if you do get it.
19. Make a Tent
Need a quick way to open clogged airways? Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove it from the heat. Then drape a towel over your head and close your eyes.
Lean over the water under the “tent,” breathing deeply through your nose for 30 seconds. Repeat this as often as necessary to ease congestion.
David Kiefer, MD, clinical instructor of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, recommends adding a drop or two of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to the water for extra phlegm-busting power.
20. Moisten Your Brow
A change in temperature can work wonders for an aching head, and it’s best to choose the temperature that most appeals to your body. If you’re cold and shivering, then soak a compress in hot water and hold it to your temple.
A bag of frozen peas also works well for those who are burning up.
21. Oregano Oil
I wish I can remember who introduced me to oil of oregano, but this stuff works great for me this flu season. That’s because the oil of oregano is rich in vitamins and minerals which help reduce pain and inflammation.
The second you start feeling run down, you’ll want to pop oil of oregano pills twice a day between meals. I normally get a couple of bad illnesses during the winter. This time around, I managed to kick the sick in just a few days, instead of battling flu symptoms for a week.
22. No Junk Food
When you have a cold or flu your body is under a lot of stress, fighting the viral infection. Big, heavy meals take vital energy to digest — resources which your body can use to fight the infections.
An old saying states “Feed a cold and starve a fever,” but the better saying should be “Starve a cold and starve a fever.”
23. Rinse Out Your Nose
A homemade nose-clearing method that goes beyond the humble tissue may be a little involved. But if you’re nasally-blocked and don’t want to step outside, then you can try clearing your nose with salt and baking soda mixture.
Mix a teaspoon of salt and baking soda with a glass of water and squirt the mixture up your nose. You need a syringe and pickling/canning salt (not simple table salt) to do this effectively, though.
It’s important not to double dip the syringe and there are further instructions here. Homemade nasal irrigation won’t appeal to everyone but should work for true homemade-remedy fans.
24. American Ginseng Root
North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) has long been used for its medicinal properties. This herb offers different effects from its Siberian and Asian cousins, though.
American ginseng is traditionally used for a wide variety of ailments, too. In addition to treating cold and flu, this form of ginseng can relieve stress, improve digestion, boost the immune system, and enhance memory.
It can even combat the effects of HIV/AIDS and cancer, manage diabetes, and even prevent signs of aging. They also come in powdered supplements, oils, and extracts (which you can add to food or drinks, too).
25. Rest and Hydrate
Take Mom’s advice: Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids, too. Dr. Czaja also advises, “Drinking water helps thin mucus secretions in the lungs.”
You can also take in lots of fruit juices, and soups, but stay away from heavy and highly processed food. High liquid intake is important as the body use water to carry waste products and toxins out of your system.
Watch this video from Elderberry Creek Farms and learn how to get rid of a cold in 24 hours by preparing some home remedies for cold and flu:
There you have it, home remedies for cold and flu, including cough symptoms. Now you know better than to head straight to your medicine cabinet.
Try a couple or a few more of these home remedies for cold and flu since they also have other health benefits, anyway.
Have you tried any of these home remedies for cold and flu before? Tell us which ones you find most effective in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 23, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.