Do natural cold and flu remedies really work?
While home remedies can’t cure a cold or the flu, they can help relieve symptoms such as body aches, fever, chills, nasal congestion during your recovery.
From chicken soup and honey to Epsom salt baths, there are plenty of at-home options available to help you manage viruses like the cold and flu. Getting enough rest, staying well hydrated, and eating nutrient-rich foods are all important for helping the body fight an illness.
Home remedies do not replace any medical treatment recommended by your doctor, but when used in addition, they can help speed up recovery from viral infections.
So Lets dive in and go over some of the most popular and effective traditional ways to combat the Ick when it is making the rounds at your house.
Herbal teas have been used for thousands of years in folk medicine for various ailments, including viral infections. Studies suggest green tea has antiviral qualities and is a good choice for during the day. I'm a massive honey fan and It also has natural antiviral and antimicrobial properties. Adding the natural sweetener (try for a local raw variety when possible) to a cup of ginger or cinnamon tea to relieve a scratchy throat and stay hydrated.(Ginger has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. As well as providing hydration, it may soothe muscle pain, ease a sore throat, and reduce nausea if present.) In the evening, caffeine-free teas like turmeric, elderberry, and echinacea may also help fight a cold or flu. For optimal benefits, consume a few cups of hot tea throughout the day.
While vitamin C hasn't been proven to prevent cold symptoms, some studies have indicated it can shorten the lifespan of a cold. Plus, it boosts your overall health, including your immune system. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that plays many important roles in your body, including supporting the immune system. Good dietary sources of vitamin C include: citrus fruits, red peppers, & green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli.
Adding fresh lemon juice to hot tea with honey may reduce phlegm when you’re sick. Drinking hot or cold lemonade may also help. We recommend doing your best to get your vitamin C through your diet. The fresher the food, the better. Think oranges, rather than orange juice or supplements. Overdoing it on vitamin C supplements (not dietary vitamin C) can lead to upset stomach and kidney stones. Natural is always best!
Sometimes mom really does know best! Hot liquids, such as soup, help reduce mucus buildup and keep you hydrated. Many people have childhood memories of being served chicken soup at the first sign of a cold or flu. Chicken soup is indeed helpful to fight upper respiratory viral infections like colds and the flu.
Research suggests that chicken soup helps relieve inflammation, reduce symptoms, and support the function of certain immune cells that have important roles in infections. After testing both the vegetables and the chicken, scientists believe this food contains multiple substances with medicinal benefits.
Garlic has a long history of use as a seasoning, as well as a cold or flu remedy. Clinical studies show garlic can help prevent the spread of viral infections thanks to its broad antiviral spectrum against viruses responsible for the common cold, influenza, herpes, hepatitis A, and rotaviruses.
Aged garlic extract or Fermented Garlic is one of the most researched forms of garlic in supplement form. Alternatively, you can reap the benefits by chopping a garlic clove into small pieces and swallow them, or even making your own fermented honey garlic (my personal favorite). Garlic contains the compound allicin, which has antimicrobial and possibly antiviral properties.
Adding garlic to your diet might reduce the severity of cold symptoms. According to some research, it might even help you avoid getting sick in the first place. More research is needed into the potential cold-fighting benefits of garlic, but adding more garlic to your diet probably won’t hurt.
Ginger is a favorite ingredient that has been used traditionally in treating cold &flu related ailments. Ginger is rich in anti-inflammatory properties along with properties that help increase the body’s immunity. The anti-inflammatory properties help in relieving the pain during sore throats and being a spicy, pungent herb, it also provides heat that the body requires at this point. And by increasing immunity, it also keeps such infections at bay.
Scientists identified over 450 active ingredients in this humble root that have been known to aid in cold and flu symptoms. Better yet, ginger is easy to incorporate into the diet, whether chopped and added to dishes, Make tea by simmering a few slices of raw ginger root in boiling water. or blended in a smoothie. Dry ginger is also available in supplement form alone or combined with turmeric and other herbs. Adding ginger powder to your food can also be highly beneficial for your body to fight off the symptoms of flu. Just add around 2 teaspoons of this powder to your food while cooking and you will see a noticeable change in your health.
Neti pots are available in pharmacies, health food stores, and online. They are ideal for people with allergies, sinus inflammation, and colds, as they help rinse debris and mucus from the nose. The nasal solution for the neti pot is a saltwater mix that can be made at home using salt and distilled water.
Nasal irrigation can be helpful in irrigating and hydrating nasal passages so they aren't dry and cracked, which can break the skin's protective barrier against viruses and bacteria. However, it's important to do it safely. Talk to your doctor before starting nasal irrigation therapy.
Never use tap water for nasal irrigation. The use of contaminated tap water for sinus rinsing has been linked to a rare, but potentially deadly brain infection. Use boiled and cooled tap water, sterile or distilled water, or saline solution instead.
Some essential oils can help manage the symptoms of a cold, flu, and other respiratory conditions. This is due to their microbial, pain-relieving, or anti-inflammatory properties.
Eucalyptus oil is usually sold as an essential oil that can be used for cough and congestion associated with common colds. Be sure to dilute it before applying it to the chest or throat, by mixing it with coconut or another oil. Alternatively, add eucalyptus oil to hot water and inhale it, or place it in an essential oil diffuser.
- Peppermint oil Menthol is an extract of peppermint. When inhaled, it creates a cooling sensation that can soothe or numb a scratchy throat.
- Frankincense is derived from the trees of the genus Boswellia and is often used in incense and perfumes.
- Thyme essential oil also contains a high level of carvacrol. It may be helpful in eliminating or protecting against viruses and bacteria.
- Tea tree oil (Melaleuca) can inhibit the growth of bad bacteria that cause sinus infections and respiratory issues.
Use a diffuser or add a few drops of essential oil to a warm bath.
Steam inhalation is like an essential oil sauna. For best results, follow these steps:
- Place up to seven drops of essential oil in a large pot or bowl of boiling water.
- Lean over the bowl (keep about ten inches away or you may get a steam burn) and cover your head with a towel to create a tent.
- Close your eyes and breathe through your nose for no more than two minutes at a time.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a fermented juice made from apples. Costlier versions are available that include the "mother", which boasts probiotics along with acetic acid and B and C vitamins. It is believed to have antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial capabilities. Apple cider vinegar has also been studied for its role in lowering blood sugar, treating acne and other skin conditions, and improving heart health.
Use apple cider vinegar as a throat rub or as a gargle to relieve congestion associated with a common cold.
Elderberries are rich in vitamin C and plant compounds called flavonoids and anthocyanins. In folk medicine, elderberry juice is recommended to relieve cough and congestion. Some studies suggest that elderberry supplements may help relieve the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections and flu. The medicinal product Sambucol, based on elderberry extract, has been the subject of many of those studies. In one, about 90% of the participants saw their flu symptoms completely resolve in half of the time (two to three days) compared with those who didn’t use Sambucol. For optimal benefits, elderberry extract should be taken at the first signs of a viral infection.
Taking a warm bath helps to improve symptoms of colds and flu because the patient is breathing in the rising steam. A steamy shower, bath, or sauna is a great decongestant. If you are dizzy or weak from the flu, sit in a chair in your bathroom while you run a hot shower. Adding Epsom salt and essential oils can further help because minerals are absorbed through the skin. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium, which helps relax the muscles, reduce body aches and pains, relieve stress, and promote a restful sleep.
Support Your Immune System
If you’re looking for ways to prevent colds, the flu, and other infections, your first step should be a visit to your local grocery store. To reduce the risk of getting a cold or flu, take steps to strengthen your immune system, such as eating healthy, sleeping well, and exercising. Regularly eating a variety of nutritious foods rich in vitamins and minerals like Zinc, such as citrus fruits, spinach, red peppers, and ginger may help boost your immune system. Fresh foods can provide our bodies with the nutrients our immune system needs to work correctly. You need a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, and spices in your diet to enable your body to stay as healthy as possible. Good choices of foods to boost the immune system include citrus fruits, spinach, almonds, papaya, and green tea. It’s worth remembering though, that diet alone can’t keep us healthy. It’s also essential to exercise, maintain a moderate weight, and limit habits such as smoking and a high alcohol intake.
There is currently no way to cure a cold or the flu, but various dietary choices, supplements, and other home remedies may help relieve symptoms. Speak with your doctor before trying any supplements to make sure they’re appropriate and safe for you. A small amount of evidence suggests some remedies may shorten the duration of the illness, but more research is needed.