At the first sign of getting sick, before going to your doctor, consider trying these home remedies to fight off a cold or flu. Remember, our bodies are designed to fight viruses and illnesses! We are designed to be able to fight off the flu: our immune system is there for a reason. We have come to rely on doctors and medicines at the first sign of illness instead of remembering that viruses and bacteria are part of our environment and most people can naturally address minor illnesses.
In the Kitchen
Eliminate all processed sugar, simple carbohydrates like white flour pastas, and alcohol from your diet. Sugars suppress your immune system, so it is important to stop eating these when you start to feel something coming on.
Increase your water intake. Fluid loss is a common side effect of many of the symptoms of a cold or flu. Staying hydrate also seems to keep flush germs and virus out of your system.
Ingest foods with antibacterial and antiviral properties, like garlic, onion, thyme, oregano, and raw honey.
Eat a well- balanced diet high in fiber. Legumes, kale, and sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber.
Consume pro-biotics: In a 2009 study, researchers found that a six-month course of probiotics was a safe and effective way to ward off flu symptoms and reduce their duration in 3- to 5-year-olds. Foods high in probiotics, such as live culture sauerkraut, yogurt, raw apple cider vinegar, and kombucha are found to help fight flu symptoms. Research has shown that not all probiotic supplements are created equally, so getting the probiotic from food sources is helpful.
Eat produce high in vitamin C like lemons, red peppers, and oranges are associated with reducing flu symptoms and duration.
Eat Mushrooms. Mushrooms contain active compounds that activate “killer” cells that destroy germs in the body. Mushroom varieties, such as shiitake and reishi, are said to have the highest medicinal power. If you do not like eating mushrooms, there are mushroom teas and “coffee” available now.
In the Medicine Cabinet
Oregano oil: A 2017 study found that oregano oil, especially from the leaves of an oregano plant, had strong antioxidant properties. The researchers noted the traditional use of oregano oil in treating fevers and respiratory symptoms, which are both associated with the flu. You can buy oregano oil in capsule that can be easily consumed like a vitamin or liquid tincture that can be ingested directly or diluted in tea.
Echinacea. Echinacea (tea or supplements) Echinacea helps your body by fighting off infections – however, it’s most effective when taken at the first feelings of sickness. In fact, it’s so good at fighting respiratory infections that research has proven it’s just as effective (if not more so) as Tamiflu. Take them in capsules or tea.Do not take echinacea for more than a month at a time.
Elderberry syrup: Elderberry is also a wonderful herb to have you in your medicine cabinet. It attacks flu viruses at the source and decreases bronchial inflammation. Studies have shown that, when taken at the first sign of illness, elderberry decreases both the severity and longevity of the flu virus. Elderberry syrup is available at most health food stores and supermarkets and is ingested orally as per package instructions.
Olive leaf extract: By activating “killer” cell activity, olive leaf extract stimulates the immune system can help prevent and treat the flu. You can purchase olive leaf extract as a tea, tincture (or a potion, as your cynical co-worker might call it), or a capsule.
In the Bedroom:
Sleep a minimum 8 hours a night to keep your immune system working properly. When you get sick, stay in bed and rest. Your body can heal best if it is at rest.
Level Up: If you are looking to next level you winter wellness routine consider making your own fire cider! You must start this immunity building tonic in the fall so it will be ready when you need it in the winter.
Fire Cider Recipe
Take the following ingredients and add to the bottom a quart-sized glass jar. I like to use organic if possible, but you may not be able to find all the ingredients in organic form.
- 1/2 cup freshly grated ginger root
- 1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish root
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 10 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
- 2 jalapeño peppers, chopped (or any spicy pepper you prefer)
- 1 lemon, zest and juice (or orange)
- 4 springs of fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, or rosemary
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated turmeric root
- Pour apple cider vinegar in the jar until all the ingredients are fully covered and the vinegar reaches the top of the jar. The ingredients must be fully submerged in the liquid to prevent molding or spoiling. If this happens, you should discard the entire batch.
- Use a piece of parchment paper or cheese cloth under the lid to keep the vinegar from touching the metal lid.
- Shake the jar and place in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks. Shake the jar every few days to make sure it is submerged and not spoiling.
- In 4-6 weeks, use a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain out the solids, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar. Be sure to squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can.
- Add 1/2 cup of raw honey to the vinegar and shake up to dissolve.
- Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
- Take a shot as needed for congestion, sore throat, fever, chills, aches and pains.
People all over the world have used some variation of this for generations and swear by its effectiveness.