Whether we want it to—or not—the cold and flu season is headed our way again. If you are like me you’ve spent some time—days, maybe weeks—feeling like crap yet faced with keeping the home and family going and trying to fight seasonal colds and flu naturally. Maybe, like me, you’ve even had to be nursemaid to the rest of your family while they are sick—all the while struggling with the same nasty symptoms yourself.
- Body Aches
- Respiratory Nastiness
- Sore throat
- Stuffed up, clogged up, and unable even to talk (Frank loves when I have this!)
Over my blogging years I’ve given you several natural ways to handle these seasonal woes. But with this post I want to arm you with handy steps to natural family health remedies for the coming attacks of seasonal colds and flu. I want to help you be prepared with the foods, herbs, spices, honey, garlic, and other natural supplements to get through the nastiness as quickly as possible and help fight seasonal colds and flu naturally.
Let me quickly state that I am not advocating that you avoid your doctor if the symptoms are really serious or unresolved after a few days. But instead of forking out a lot of money upfront for conventional medicines or over-the-counter remedies that really don’t do much, why not be ready with the natural remedies that work much better?
Why Do We Fall Victim to these Seasonal Threats?
We need to really understand why these seasonal threats are able to attack us. Maybe you think it’s the bacteria that is present when the summer season starts to fall into the death of winter. Some think all they need is a great antibiotic, but this is simply not true. Colds and flu are caused by viruses, and antibiotics are completely ineffective in treating them.
Viruses may be the trigger to the cold and flu symptoms, but the real cause is an impaired immune system. And that could be our own fault. Here are some of the ways we mistreat our immune systems:
- Eating too much sugar and too many grains
- Not getting enough sleep
- Insufficient exercise
- Failing to adequately manage the emotional stressors in our lives
- Vitamin D deficiency
So How Do We Begin to Fight Back Naturally?
There are some great natural remedies you should have at your fingertips when you come down with cold and flu symptoms. But even before those first symptoms hit, practice prevention by using the last wonderful days of summer to be sure you are avoiding those all-too-common ways we mistreat our bodies. Choose wisely—and get the issues of nutrition, sleep, exercise, and stress in control.
But even if you’ve done your best to maximize good nutrition, healing sleep, sufficient exercise, and are keeping your stress level in control, you can still fall victim to seasonal colds and flu. Let’s take a look at some of the many valuable, natural and healthy remedies you have available if you know what they are and how to use them.
When the long summer days begin to shorten, and we have fewer and fewer hours of good natural sunshine in which to bask, it’s good to remember that direct sun exposure is our best source of vitamin D. During late fall and winter we need to increase other natural sources of vitamin D. Adults need an average of 5,000 IU each day, but during cold and flu season many adults increase to as much as 20,000 or more IU daily to keep their vitamin D at optimal levels. One good way to do that is to be aware of the foods that provide this vitamin. Add some of these to your daily menu:
- Portobello mushrooms—100 grams of mushrooms will provide some vitamin D
- Fresh Wild Salmon—contains more than 100 IU per ounce
- Canned Salmon—6 ounces has 323% of your daily need
- Eggs—be sure to include the yolk
- Swiss, Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses
It is probably not possible to get all our vitamin D from the food we eat, so adding a vitamin D supplement to your diet during fall and winter can decrease your risk of getting sick. We use this supplement.
Foods to strengthen your immune response
I am committed to living a natural, sustainable lifestyle that provides my family and me with most of the foods we eat, and gives me natural remedies to fight against illnesses like colds and flu. I make sure my kitchen is stocked with these natural weapons, including the following:
- Homemade Bone Broth—according to an old South American proverb, “good broth will resurrect the dead.” OK, so that’s probably an exaggeration, but homemade bone broth is one of your most healing staples. Making bone broth happens weekly, sometimes daily, in our home, and the way I do it is so dang easy. (See my blog here.)
- Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup—I think that almost everyone wants a good bowl of chicken noodle soup when those cold and flu symptoms begin to creep in. Because we raise our own chickens, I can make a soothing, healthy pot of chicken noodle soup any time we want or need it. I use my slow cooker or Instant Pot to make it, and it’s just a matter of tossing in the healthy ingredients and waiting for that delicious bowl of soup. Be sure to include things like garlic, parsley, and ginger, which are all loaded with benefits to fight those colds and flu symptoms. There are many wonderful homemade chicken noodle soup recipes online. You may want to try one like this.
- Fresh Garlic—fresh garlic is loaded with antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agents. Its therapeutic effects can be your best weapon against seasonal illnesses. But to really get its benefits you need to use freshly crushed or chopped garlic cloves. Throw some in your salads, put in on your sandwiches, and add it to your soups and casseroles. Make its presence known in your home! (Just keep the breath mints handy!) I remember my parents telling me that when they first started attending a church in Chicago with mostly Italian people, they wondered what the odor was in the sanctuary every Sunday. They soon discovered it was the garlic Italian people used freely.
- Ginger, Lemon, and Raw Honey—These three natural ingredients can become an all-natural cold and flu remedy you can prepare as soon as the germs start spreading. Ginger helps you sweat out toxins, honey soothes a sore throat and suppresses coughs, and lemon is high in vitamin C and keeps your immune system strong. Make this immunity boosting, body soothing concoction ahead of time and keep it in your fridge.
- Apple cider vinegar—It may not taste good, but you can cure your cold with raw apple cider vinegar. You can drink it straight (yes, I’ve done that when I was desperate.
Nature’s Illness Fighting Herbs and Spices
There are a host of natural herbs and spices that can support your body while providing a remedy to the illness. You can grow many of them yourself, even if all you have are a few pots sitting in a sunny place in your home. Here are just a few to keep handy:
- Ginger—works great to alleviate symptoms in your GI system, and is wonderful for easing upset tummy aches from constant coughing and mucus drainage. Make your own healing ginger tea by using the recipe found here.
- Echinacea—one of the best-known herbal remedies, it was often sold by old-time peddlers as “snake oil.” You can grow your own in a pot or garden. We have many Echinacea plants on our farm, and I am really dependent on the wonderful homemade Echinacea tea I can brew, which you can find here.
- Elderberries—are great at boosting your immune system, and can reduce the time you have to suffer with cold and flu symptoms. You can grow your own elderberries like we do, and make your own healing elderberry syrup. (See my recipe here.)
- Nettle—the nettle leaf contains lots of vitamins and trace minerals to keep your body hydrated and to remove toxins. It can boost your immunity, reduce inflammation, and cure the common cold. Try this recipe for making your own nettle tea.
- Chamomile—this is a staple in many natural homesteads. It is so calming, and helps your children sleep. It even tastes good, and there is nothing better than warm chamomile tea with raw honey when you or your family are plagued with colds and flu. Make your own chamomile tea using this recipe.
- Cinnamon—this spice is loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. Many people make a soothing cup of honey and cinnamon tea at the first sign of cold and flu symptoms. Try making your own by using this recipe.
- Nutmeg—contains a compound called myristicin, which helps to clear the respiratory passage. Try grating a little nutmeg into a teaspoon of coconut oil and apply this paste to your forehead and nose for instant relief.
These herbs have many specific uses to help your body’s immune system when it’s fighting against seasonal and environmental threats. Here are just a few more herbal remedies I keep on hand:
- Immune stimulants—these can stimulate the immune system to do its job. They include lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary, melaleuca, and thyme.
- Eliminate toxins—these can cleanse your system from the germs and toxins that thrive during weakened immune systems. They include cypress, grapefruit, juniper berry, lemon and rosemary.
You can purchase your natural solutions starter kit here so you are prepared for this coming season!
Other natural remedies
A soothing hot detox bath can remove toxins, open your pores, oxygenate the body, and provide healing antibacterial and antiviral support when you are stuck with a cold or flu. Try soaking in a hot bath for about 30 minutes to which you have added about three pints of hydrogen peroxide (3%), and 2 ounces of ground ginger.
I give my kids a detox bath almost every night, and it provides healing qualities and relaxation after a busy day. I give you all the reasons to do this, and many suggestions for what to use in your detox bath here.
My All-Purpose Healing Salve
This all-purpose salve is good for so many things. I make sure I have it available for every kind of owie a busy homesteading family can face. You can find more information about this healing salve here. Try reaching for this instead of the over-the-counter lotions and rubs that may be filled with as many dangerous toxins as healing elements. It is a wonder rub for a family member’s cold symptoms by applying it over the neck and chest area and then covering it with a very warm, soft cloth that helps the salve steam into pores and chase away those symptoms.
So—you can try all the over-the-counter cold and flu remedies, which may give some relief, or you can take the plunge and start treating your seasonal symptoms naturally. It is my strong recommendation that you get prepared now, before you are hit with illness, with a all-natural, health-producing healing kit using some of these natural solutions I’ve recommended. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you are armed in advance, you can tackle these nasty cold and flu symptoms the minute they hit.