Winter is coming, and it’s time to get informed about what your options are when you catch a cold, flu or other ailments that cold, dry weather often brings. While those over-the-counter and prescription drugs commercials are enticing, promising a quick fix — you really need to be concerned what these pills do to your body. While they may be helping in some ways, they could be hurting in others. If you are interested in some natural remedies for cold and flu — read on. Get the scoop on natural remedies you can put into action to get rid of a common cold and flu or at least shorten the duration. Soothe a sore throat and nasal congestion with this best tea for a cold.
Common Cold or Flu?
First things first – what is the difference between a cold and the flu? The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more intense.
Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone but here are some guidelines:
Common Cold Symptoms
A common cold is usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. The symptoms of a cold develop slowly and can include:
- Fever up to 102°F
- Runny or stuffy nose (often with green or yellow-colored discharge)
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches
- Watery eyes
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The Flu symptoms usually appear suddenly and can include:
- Fever over 102°F
- Stuffy nose
- Chills and sweats
- Muscle aches, especially in back, arms and legs
- Loss of appetite
Head Cold Symptoms
A head cold is basically the common cold with symptoms of the virus primarily affecting the nose and sinuses. Head colds generally last between a week and ten days, and often the symptoms are manageable without medical attention.
A head cold follows the same pattern as a normal cold, although the symptoms affecting these areas of the body are more pronounced than usual, so the likelihood of sinusitis and ear infections slightly increases with a head cold.
If you have school-aged children or teens, chances are they may come home at some point with a sore throat but not all sore throats are strep throats. Kids who do have strep throat may get some of these symptoms within about three days:
Strep Throat Symptoms
• red and swollen tonsils
• painful or swollen neck glands.
• red and white patches in the throat
• difficulty swallowing
• lower stomach pain
• general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
• loss of appetite and nausea
How to Prevent Strep Throat
To prevent spreading strep throat to others in your home, keep your child’s eating utensils, dishes, and drinking glasses separate and wash them in hot, soapy water after each use. Your child shouldn’t share food, drinks, napkins, handkerchiefs, or towels with other family members.
Strep throat is very contagious. Anybody can get it, but most cases are in school-age kids and teens. Infections happen most often during the school year when big groups of kids and teens are in close quarters.
My Personal Story Using Natural Remedies to Break a Fever and Flu Symptoms
Recently, I was visiting with a family member in Long Island, NY who was not feeling well. When I saw them lying on the couch, I immediately put my hand on their body to see if they had a fever. Their body was like an inferno, so I decided to take their temperature. WOW… the thermometer read 105°F and that was scary.
I immediately went into the medicine cabinet to see what I could find to help bring down their fever and ease up on their flu symptoms. The steps I followed included:
- Started to pump them up with some natural remedies to boost their immune system and fight off the viral infection.
- Placed ice cold water compresses on key points of their body throughout the evening.
- Had them drink some homemade bone broth (which I purchased at a local store) to keep them nourished and hydrated and help to boost their immune system.
By midnight that evening, their fever went from 105°F down to 101.9°F. The next day I continued to give them the natural supplements which finally helped to bring their temperature back to normal at 98°F. I was relieved to see such improvements by the second day without having to use of any prescription medication. In my opinion, this is natural medicine working at its best.
Best Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu
Here are some of the natural pharmaceutical grade supplements that I used in this situation and in my practice to ease symptoms of cold and flu (and fevers).
Vitamin C for Colds
To boost your immune system, consider taking vitamin C. The vitamin C dose I like to recommend is around 2000 mg for a short period of time. Of course, everyone is different so if you experience loose bowels you may want to ease up on this dose. My favorite vitamin C is a liposomal form which offers superior absorption and bioavailability especially in times of high demand.
Zinc for Colds and Flu
Zinc lozenges can help reduce cold symptoms if you start taking them as soon as you start to feel symptoms. Go for ones that contain 15 to 25 mg of zinc gluconate per lozenge. You can up your daily zinc intake with this zinc supplement that is combined with other synergist nutrients like molybdenum, glycine, vitamin B6 and taurine to provide superior results.
Immune Boosting Herbs
During cold and flu season it is important to have a strong and healthy immune system. Herbal formulas that contain powerful herbs like Echinacea, Astragalus and Goldenseal extracts will help you fight colds and the flu naturally. Consider this well-rounded formula called Immunitone Plus™ that supports normal killer (NK) cell activity with arabinogalactan, beta 1,3 glucan and mushroom extracts and more all in one synergistic formula.
Throat Soothing Herbal Syrup
Ginger-Tussin™ Syrup is a great-tasting, herbal syrup elixir. It is made with ginger and the American herb osha for immune support, and wild cherry bark to soothe the throat and control coughs. The base of this syrup is vegetable glycerin and certified organic honey and non-GMO.
A special strain of human-derived Streptococcus salivarius (the K12 strain), a beneficial bacterium found in the healthy oral cavity, and beta glucan can help to recover from a sore throat. Probiommune™ lozenges are great for colds and strep throat and to help support overall nasopharyngeal immune health.
Homemade Remedies for Cold and Flu
Elderberry syrup can ward off colds and flu and even speed up recovery if you do get sick. You can make your own with dried elderberries, raw honey, and herbs for a simple, yet potent and effective natural syrup.
Check out this link on how to make your own immune-boosting homemade elderberry syrup recipe.
The standard dose is ½ to 1 teaspoon for kids and a ½ to 1 tablespoon for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.
Homemade Soothing Cough Syrup
Don’t like the taste of commercially available cough syrups and want to forgo the additives?
Check out this link to make your own ammo to beat this bug with my cough syrup recipe.
Raw honey with lemon juice and herbs can help soothe a cough or tickling throat and help speed up recovery from sore throats.
This mixture can be stored in airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months.
Best Tea for a Cold
Sipping on a warm cup of herbal tea may be just your cup of tea! Herbal teas used for cold and flu not only help to eliminate the chill but help to alleviate post nasal drip, sinus congestion, sore throats, and fevers. There are many herbs that help to ward off cold and flu viruses. Some of my popular herbal teas for this purpose include echinacea, elderberry, elderflower, ginger, lemon balm, oregano, peppermint, thyme, and yarrow.
Here’s one of my favorite recipes to make the best tea for cold and flu season:
Honey Lemon Tea
Servings: 1 cup
1 cup hot water
2 ½ inch ginger root (fresh, grated, with skin)
½ fresh lemon
1 tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon sea salt
Dash cayenne (optional but helpful for sinus congestion)
- Bring water to a boil and pour into the mug
- Add the juice of the freshly squeezed lemon
- Add the ginger slices, honey and a pinch of sea salt
- Stir the ingredients to dissolve the honey
- Let the tea steep for about 5 minutes to infuse the ginger
- There is no need to strain the tea after it’s done steeping
Sip and enjoy the soothing effects!
Consider adding a mentholated cough drop to the warm mixture and inhale it deeply as you sip your tea to help clear your sinuses.
In addition, feel free to add in any of the therapeutic herbs mentioned above for added healing benefits.
8 Helpful Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu Include:
- Gargle with salt water. Pour half a teaspoon of sea salt in a 4-ounce glass of water and gargle with this mixture several times. This treatment is simple and effective at relieving sore throat pain.
- Gargle with Oil of Oregano. For nasty sore throats, colds and flu, consider ramping up your treatment. Add 2-ounces of water and a few drops of liquid oil of oregano and gargle with this mixture. After gargling, you can drink the mixture to kill off any viruses or bacteria affecting the rest of your body.
- Essential oils such as eucalyptus, myrrh and lemongrass are among some of my favorite essential oils to help with congestion externally. You can add a few drops of eucalyptus or myrrh to a diffuser or humidifier and inhale the vapors. Breathing in the vapors can help loosen congestion so you can breathe better.
- Lemongrass oil has antimicrobial properties that help to ward off a common cold or flu. It is also known to have a cooling effect, so it can help to lower your body temperature when you have a fever. Simply add a few drops of lemongrass to a carrier oil (like almond or sesame oil) and rub the mixture around your ears and throat for instant relief.
- Wash your hands often prevent the spread of germs and viruses from other people who may be sick.
- Reduce your intake of refined white sugar. Did you know the equivalent of one candy bar can cut down the activity of your white blood cells by 20%? This effect can lower your immune system and cause you to be more vulnerable to catching frequent colds or flu.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep. A study showed that people who sleep less than 7 hours a night had three times more of getting a cold than those who slept more than 8 hours a night. So, for cold prevention, try to get in your zzzzz’s.
- Stay hydrated by drinking at least 8 eight ounces of water daily. Or have some homemade bone broth on hand for its immune-boosting benefits and loads of vitamins and minerals.
Remember, if you keep your immune system strong and lead a healthy lifestyle you are less likely to become ill. If you have struggled year after year during cold and flu season, maybe it’s time for some nutritional support. I welcome you to reach out for a consultation with me to help get you on track for the coming season and beyond.
What home remedies do you use to recover from cold and flu? Tell us in the comments below.