Holisitic Cold & Flu Remedies

Photo by Sunflower Futures

This time of year, cold remedies come in handy. Even if you have prepared yourself and your children for cold season (read this post: Preparing for Cold & Flu Season) you still might need a few remedies once in a while. There are a lot of different remedies that include essential oils, herbs, foods, and other techniques that can help shorten the life span of a cold and make the symptoms less severe. I have created a list of 10 cold remedies that are easy to use and work effectively. Although I hope you don’t need them, in case you do here is the list:

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Garlic Tea 

Garlic tea might not sound that tasty but I assure you it’s not that bad and it is definitely worth it. Garlic has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity which is very helpful when trying to fight something off. Eating a whole clove of garlic would also help but its not easy to eat on its own. You can, however, puree it into dishes like hummus to make it easier to eat. Garlic tea offers the same benefits and the warming effect of the tea helps to soothe sore throats and help clear mucus. To make garlic tea, place a garlic clove in a tea cup and pour boiling water over it. Let it steep for about 10 minutes and then remove the clove of garlic. Add other tea or honey to flavor it if you like. I have even gotten my 2 year old to drink it if I add a little bit of raw honey in it.

Epsom Salt Bath

Epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate. Most people are already magnesium deficient because the lack of it in the diet. Taking an Epsom salt bath can help ease aches, calming the body as it fights the symptoms of a cold or flu.  This naturally-occurring mineral will help you get a good night’s rest, so you can recover faster. Some doctors say it will even speed healing by detoxifying your body and increasing your white blood cell count. This can even be used as a preventative method if you feel something coming on.

Lavender Essential Oil

Diffusing lavender essential oil helps to kill off germs in the nasal passage, trachea, bronchial tubes, as you inhale the vapors. The essential oil vapors are also able to destroy germs floating through the air from coughing or sneezing.

Neti Pot

The neti pot is a great thing to use for nasal congestion or sinus congestion. The neti pot will help to clear out congestion and also flushes germs out of the nasal passage to help speed up healing. It’s also a great way to reduce congestion and breath better during an illness.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry boosts the immune system, heals coughs, colds, flu, viral and bacterial infections. One of the most noteworthy benefits of elderberry is its efficacy in treating flu symptoms. Elderberries contain bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice that have strong antioxidant properties.  These flavonoids inhibit  the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. Taking elderberry syrup helps to reduce the severity of symptoms, and shorten the lifespan of the illness. It is also a great preventative taken daily. Read this post to learn how to make your own at home: How to Make Elderberry Syrup


Echinacea is best taken at the first sign of a cold. It is ueful to fight off infections right from the start. It can be taken in a tincture, pill or my favorite is tea. There are some great immune boosting tea blends that work great to fight off colds as the first sign of symptoms like this one: Yogi Echinacea Immune Support

Probiotics and Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are the best source of friendly gut bacteria. Food like sauerkraut have billions of active cultures that far outweigh the amount in any probiotic pill. Probiotics help the immune system by colonizing the intestines and keeping “bad” bacteria in check. If your levels of friendly bacteria get too low they will get out numbered by the bad guys which can cause illness or digestive problems. Eating extra fermented foods during an illness can help you heal. Another reason to eat sauerkraut in particular is because it is packed full of vitamins such as vitamin C and B (including B12). Sauerkraut is very inexpensive to make yourself and it has more cultures since there is no pasteurization in homemade versions. Read this post: How to Make Homemade Saurkraut

Raw Honey

Raw unprocessed honey has antioxidant and antibacterial properties that help cold sufferers recover faster. Raw honey is preferred as a remedy over pasteurized honey because it retains its antibacterial properties. When the honey is processed and filtered it loses some of its healing properties. Raw honey can help to reduce congestion and coughs. It can be taken alone or mixed with tea – just make sure not to put it in tea that is too hot. A hot beverage will kill the healing properties of the honey.

Homemade Broths

Chicken soup is a long time remedy for colds and the flu. There is truth to this home remedy and it’s a great thing to feed children when they are ill. Here is a quote from an article on WestinAPrice.org, “Science validates what our grandmothers knew. Rich homemade chicken broths help cure colds. Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily—not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.” (Read the whole article here: http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/broth-is-beautiful) Homemade stock is always best, try my easy crock pot method here: How to Make Bone Broth.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

Eucalyptus essential oil is another great oil to diffuse to kill germs and open up congestion. This oil can also be used in a chest rub to help break up chest congestion. Mix a few drops with some coconut oil and rub on the chest. This is a natural alternative to vapo rubs that you see in the pharmacy and it works very well. The best essential oils I’ve used are from Young Living, I highly recommend them (not just because I’m a distributor but because I’ve tried so many brands and this has proven as the best quality.)

What are your go to holistic cold remedies? What has worked best for you?


  1. Sharon Armstrong says

    The best way I’ve fought colds with my family is to drop 1 – 2 drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear. It feels kinds weird, but it works really well, especially when you do this at the first sign of a sore throat. I then have the kids “take” the “Cold-Eeze” drops with zinc in them. These two together work really well. If they don’t tell me right away, and get the cold, we do this and slather Vick’s mentholateum on their feet and chest at night…great for coughs!

  2. says

    I use essential oils to increase the effects of my Reiki treatments. I didn’t know you could use lavender oil directly to heal certain illnesses. I always use lavender essential oil to set a relaxing mood in the room, but I think I will try to incorporate it into my healing by using specific oils for a client’s needs. If you have advice about other essential oils I would be most interested. If you have any curiosities about Reiki, please check out my website: http://www.wholenessreikihealing.com. I hope you can find some inspiration for your blog as to another natural and holistic treatment!

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