Struggling to stay healthy? Kick that infection to the curb with over 20 natural home remedies for colds and flu (that really work!).
Cold and flu season.
It’s that time of year again when everyone starts coming down with something. Of course, down here in the south, there’s always something blooming, no matter what time of year it is, so allergy attacks can happen year-round.
But thankfully, other than allergies, my family doesn’t get sick that often. We help keep our immune systems strong by eating smart: saying no to refined sugar and processed foods, and upping the bone broth and other immune boosting foods when the weather gets cooler.
Time to boost the immune system.
If you’re wanting to head into the fall & winter months well prepared, here are some natural ways to combat unhealthy bacteria and viruses. Please note, you don’t have to wait until you’re sick to try these! Everything listed will not only help you heal, but will keep you healthy, as well.
Let’s start out with a list of herbs, spices, and natural foods with immune-boosting properties:
Herbs & spices that fight colds & flu.
The bark of cinnamon holds unique healing abilities because of the essential oils found in it. It is a nutritional powerhouse and a powerful anti-bacterial. With antioxidant properties that protect cells from oxidative stress and free radicals, it is one of the most effective substances against E–coli, and Salmonella. It’s notable that true cinnamon, often labeled “Ceylon cinnamon,” has higher levels of antioxidants than the cinnamon commonly sold, cassia.
Also known as purple coneflower, echinacea stimulates the cells responsible for fighting infections, making our immune system more effective at attaching viruses and bacteria. Please note that echinacea also stimulates the Th1 system, so use with care if you have Th1 dominant Hashimoto’s.
The healthy benefits from slipper elm come mainly from its inner bark. This contains nutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B3, and vitamin C. It’s mostly used for its soothing properties. It’s interesting to note that in “the olden days” it was used as a mechanical irritant to abort fetuses, so I’d suggest staying away from it if you’re pregnant.
The healing power of this herb is relatively new to me. Its fresh leaves are packed with vitamins C, A, K & E, potassium, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, and selenium, and contains flavonoids, making it an antioxidant-rich option. It’s antibacterial capabilities are even said to combat E-coli, as well as other bacteria and fungi. Because of the relaxing effect thyme has on muscles, it’s helpful for relieving asthma, whooping cough, laryngitis, bronchitis and dry coughs.
Fruits & berries that fight colds & flu.
All citrus holds high amounts of vitamin C, boosting your immune system and filling your body with antioxidants. They’re always a good addition to your diet!
With amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, vitamins A & B and copious amounts of vitamin C (even more than oranges!), elderberries are an anti-viral, antibacterial, antioxidant and immune-boosting powerhouse. Their bioflavonoids are even capable of destroying the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell!
When using elderberries, remember that most uncooked berries from this genus are poisonous. But the variety of elderberry that is usually used for health benefits is the only one considered to be non-toxic even when raw.
Some doctors suggest pregnant or nursing women should stay away from elderberries, but I’ve never experienced any negative effects from consuming them while either.
Roots & other things that fight colds & flu.
Most of garlic’s health benefits come from the sulfur compound allicin, that is released when the cloves are chopped, crushed, or chewed. It’s known for its benefits in controlling bacterial and viral infections. Garlic is my go-to when I come down with anything viral, it’s an amazing natural antibiotic.
With anti-inflammatory benefits that rival those of NSAIDs, and gingerol, which helps to lower the risk of infections.
Full of vitamins and minerals (niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, vitamin C & B6, calcium, and iron, to name just a few), honey also has large amounts of friendly bacteria and is anti-fungal, and probiotic. Honey is also full of phenolic acids and flavoniods (antioxidants), which help eliminate free radicals.
Generally speaking, the darker the honey, the higher the antioxidant levels. When purchasing honey, it’s important to try and find local and raw, as well. Some honey is pasteurized, and this will deplete it of some of its natural health properties.
Home Remedies for Colds & Flu
Hot Garlic-Ginger Lemonade from Recipes to Nourish
Teas & Drinks
Elderberry Syrup in the Instant Pot from Raia’s Recipes
Tonics & Tinctures
Grandma’s Homemade Chicken Soup from Fearless Eating
Healing Ginger Lemon Gummies from Raia’s Recipes
Much thanks to these bloggers who contributed their recipes:
A Calculated Whisk, All the Nourishing Things, Attainable Sustainable, And Here We Are, Butter for All, Farm Fresh Feasts, Fearless Dining, Heal You Naturally, Kitchen Treaty, Life Currents, Low Carb Yum, Natural Fit Foodie, Prepare & Nourish, Raising Generation Nourished, Recipes to Nourish, Simply Beyond Herbs, Studio Botanica, The Health Nut Mama, The Tasting Page, Whole New Mom, Wholesome Yum, Yang’s Nourishing Kitchen