Cold and Flu Home Remedies

Donna PhotoBy Donna Cardillo, RN, MA

Boost your immune system, stay healthy, fight the pesky flu bug (and others), and treat the symptoms if you do come down with something with these home remedies. Click here for my blog on the 11 Ways to Avert the Flu.

Green tea is known to have many properties that can help keep you in tip-top health – and therefore better prepared to ward off cold and flu bugs. The jury is out on how many cups of tea are optimal, but 2-3 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 to expedite ridding your body of those nasty bugs and give your body’s defenses an extra jolt.

Ginger’s health benefits have long been touted. Steep several slices of fresh ginger root in hot water and sip for an extra health boost or to soothe a cough or scratchy throat.

Honey is known to bolster the immune system. A daily dose of honey can help you to feel energetic and stay healthy. It also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties; if you do develop a sore or scratchy throat, honey will soothe and help heal. Use it in your tea, coffee, plain hot water or by itself. You can even gargle with honey (and lemon) in salt water when the mixture is at room temperature. (Do not give honey to children under 1 year of age.)

Lemons are loaded with vitamin C, which is known to support the body’s natural defenses. Lemon (and lime) juice is reported to decrease the strength of the cold and flu virus in the body and reduce phlegm. Add lemon juice to your tea or make hot or cold lemonade with honey to stay well, build resistance to cold and flu, and speed up healing if you do succumb.

Garlic may be known to ward off vampires, but it can also ward off colds and flu. Garlic contains the immune-boosting compound allicin, also know to relieve cold and flu symptoms. Chop or crush 1-2 gloves of fresh garlic and “steep” them in hot water; then, drink it like a tea. This may also help others keep their distance from you (unless they’re attracted to the smell of garlic), preventing further spread of the virus (wink, wink).

Peppermint tea is laced with nutrients that help the body fight off illness. It also can act as an expectorant, helping the body to cough up mucous.

Salt water in homemade saline nasal sprays, nasal washes, and gargles has long been used effectively to soothe sore throats, and keep respiratory passages moist, decongested and free of invading pathogens. If you do get a sore throat, gargle with half a teaspoon of salt mixed with 1 cup of warm water, four times per day. For nasal washing, use a neti pot or bulb syringe with a quarter teaspoon salt in 1 cup of warm water. Tip head to one side over sink or basin and gently introduce solution to higher nostril. Allow solution to drain from the other nostril. Repeat procedure by then tipping head to opposite side. Note: Although many use warm tap water in their neti pots, distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water is recommended for purity/safety. Be sure to clean and dry the neti pot after each use to prevent the introduction of harmful bacteria into the nasal passages/sinuses.

Steam can help to relieve stuffiness and congestion. Boil a pot of water on the stove and then slowly breathe in the steam. Be careful as steam can cause burns. If the steam makes your nasal passages burn, pull your head back slightly and breathe in more slowly.

The truth is many of the old standard home remedies, when used regularly and properly, can be your body’s best – and least expensive – defense against colds and the flu, also helping to minimize their impact if they do take hold.

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