The 11 Best Cold and Flu Natural Home Remedies, Treatments, and Tips
7 minute read
Winter is right around the corner. For many of us that signals the season for family, comfort foods, and warm clothing. Sadly, it also means cold and flu season is upon us.
Staying home in bed is great when it’s the weekend, but not when you are achy, cold, coughing, and sneezing all day. Even though cold and flu season is inevitable, there is plenty you can do to ease any suffering.
We may not have a cure, but there is a vaccine for the flu, and there are many great home remedies to help ease the symptoms of both the flu and colds at home.
Must-Try Home Remedies
Flu shots are offered way before winter arrives, and they are 100% the best way to avoid getting the flu.
Plus, they aren’t simply for your benefit, the herd immunity created by vaccinations protects those around you, like young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, from contracting what could be for them a lethal infection.
If you contract the flu before you get the shot, or catch a cold, any of the remedies below can certainly help you to feel better and get back on your feet quicker.
1. Chicken Soup
We all remember mom making chicken soup when we had a cold as a child, and there was a good reason. Chicken soup not only warms and comforts a tired and aching body, but its nutrients boost your health.
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The combination of vegetables, chicken, and broth has been shown to slow the actions of neutrophils. Slowing these white blood cells allows them to concentrate in areas where they are needed and can better protect you from infection.
The warmth also helps to relieve congestion, helping respiratory complications associated with colds and flu.
2. Vitamin C
Along with chicken soup, vitamin C is a common go-to for treating colds and flu. This vitamin provides support for your immune system and has been found to effectively reduce respiratory tract infections.
A glass of orange juice or lemonade, fresh fruits or vegetables, or adding some lemon to your tea are the best ways to get extra vitamin C during those colder months.
Honey contains antimicrobial and antibacterial compounds that support your immune system in fighting infections. In addition to this, honey serves as a powerful cough suppressant, reducing the severity and persistence of coughs during the night.
You can take a spoonful of honey as needed or add to hot tea during the day. Either way, you will get relief from many cold and flu symptoms.
Ginger root has been used for centuries to cure common ailments. When boiled in water to form a tea, ginger helps to relieve sore throat and coughing and can ward off the nausea sensations often associated with the flu.
In fiction, this will keep vampires away, but in reality, garlic helps to keep germs away. The important compound in garlic, allicin, is a powerful antimicrobial agent.
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This means it can potentially protect you from getting sick in the first place, and could significantly reduce the duration of your illness, should you catch a cold.
The herb and root of this plant is often used to make tea that serves to treat infections. Used for centuries by Native Americans, Echinacea contains flavonoids that actively suppress inflammation and boost your immune system.
Regularly drinking Echinacea tea reduces your risk of getting a cold virus, and, when taken during an infection, the duration is significantly reduced.
The mention of probiotics typically brings thoughts of improved digestion to mind, but their benefits are more wide-reaching than that. Almost 90 percent of your immune system lives in your gut, in the form of friendly bacteria.
When it comes to avoiding and fighting colds, it turns out that germs are a good thing. The beneficial flora living within you support your immunity, and their abundance means your good health.
Poor diet and certain lifestyle habits as well as overuse of antibiotics can deplete these bacterial communities, thereby increasing your risk for illness and infection. Regularly taking probiotics or eating probiotic foods, like yogurt, reduces this risk and boosts overall immune system activity.
The flu virus in particular thrives in dry environments, which makes humidity one of the best defenses. Keeping your home humid can reduce the chances of catching the influenza virus.
It also helps to reduce nasal and chest inflammation should you catch a cold, helping you breathe more easily. A dry, warm house will only make respiratory infections worse, so invest in a humidifier to keep around during colder seasons.
9. Take a Bath
Soaking in a warm tub can ease cold and flu symptoms. The warmth helps to break up congestion, allowing you to breathe more easily and relaxes achy muscles.
Adding baking soda can help relieve tense muscles and adding scented oils like lavender or eucalyptus can deliver a calming effect.
10. Salt Water
Warm salt water can effectively relieve sore throats and upper respiratory problems when gargled. Swishing salt water around breaks up and removes mucus, which is full of bacteria.
One teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water is all you need to soothe your throat and rinse cold-causing bacteria away.
11. Vapor Rub
Old-fashioned topical applications may not smell pleasant, but they are effective when it comes to relieving respiratory problems. Vapor rubs open air passages, suppress coughs, reduce congestion, and promote a restful night’s sleep.
There are numerous options of rubs in most stores and some people even opt for making their own.
The Bottom Line
Natural home remedies are always comforting and can be soothing even if they don’t actually cure you.. Cold and flu viruses can be severe, however, and if you are not feeling better after a week, then you need to see your doctor.
Of course, the best way to avoid a cold or flu is to get a flu shot each year as recommended and proactively boost your health and immune system all year round. A balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and plenty of restful sleep will ensure you beat any cold and promote optimal health through every season.