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Some Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

Updated on August 30, 2013

Remedies are good, but sometimes we do need a doctor!

Sometimes it may be difficult to tell whether you have a common cold or the flu. Below are a list of typical symptoms that can be associated with the two illnesses. While the home remedies on this page are directed towards relief and getting better on your own, it is important to decide when and if you need to see a doctor.

I used to think that there was a season for being sick, however over the years I have discovered that it truly doesn't matter what time of year it is when it comes to catching a cold! Being sick makes everything more difficult to manage, and harder to concentrate on anything....which can instigate the urgency to try all kinds of methods to get rid of the symptoms. I know all too well about being so desperate to feel better that I would do and try anything to improve my conditions, hence how I have came to discover some of the natural ways to get there. Not to say that I don't use over the counter drugs, such as Tylenol or Sudafed, but sometimes those aren't enough! Especially how it always seems to be the case of getting sick during the most inconvenient times....although, I don't suppose any time is ever all that convenient.

Some Common Cold/Flu Symptoms

Often, for about 4 days
Occasionally, rare
Very often
General Aches and Pains
Sometimes, mild
Very often
Long lasting
Extreme Exhaustion
Yes, and prominent
Stuffy Nose
Very common
Very common
Sore Throat
Very common
Cough/Chest Pain
Mild to moderate. plus hacking
Very common
Sinus infection/Ear Ache
Flu Vaccine
Although this is a very broad summary of symptoms, each illness can differ from person to person.


This may seem like an odd option at first, but garlic is actually a really useful natural product that helps combat illness. There are many reasons why it's good for you to intake some during a cold or flu. For one, garlic is a extremely powerful and potent antioxidant. It also has antimicrobial, antiviral and antibiotic properties, and can also serve as a decongestant when you are really plugged up.

There's more than one way to use it as a healing remedy:

  • Straight up! It won't serve your breath any, but chewing on a clove of fresh garlic is one of the quickest ways to put it into your system if you can handle the strong flavor. It's most effective if you are able to chew a clove every 3 to 4 hours until your bug is completely gone.
  • Crush a clove and let it sit in your mouth for about 15 minutes while sucking it, to get all of the good stuff activated, and spit it out.
  • Mince some garlic and add some honey on top (which is also another good antioxidant) to eat off a spoon every few hours. Adding a couple drops of olive oil may help tone the flavor down a little bit too.
  • There is actually a far less painful way to have the benefits of garlic without really having to deal with the taste of it. There is a natural pill form of garlic called "Garlique", which is literally the same stuff in the produce, just obviously not as fresh. I actually know a woman who is not able to take most over the counter medicines (due to health reasons) and so her doctor has her use Garlique during her cold spells. Actually, I believe she takes it on a daily basis even when she is not sick, and as a result has not had to deal with a cold in years! So in that way, it is also a great preventative tool as well. The only noticeable hint of garlic would be the after taste in your mouth, similar to a fish oil pill. They are usually available at several local drug stores over the counter, and even at larger retail venues such as Walmart. It may seem pricey, but if you think about all the expenses involved with other cold and flu medicines it averages out in the end.

To Make a Saline Spray....

  • As a rule of thumb, use about 8oz of water for every 2 tablespoons of salt.
  • If you are able to catch it at the right temperature, having it still warm does help, but it is not essential.
  • Small spray bottles can usually be purchased at most stores, but you can also use an old bottle from a nasal spray...just make sure it's cleaned out!

Salt Water

Most people are aware of the healing benefits that salt has. It is one of nature's greatest resources for sanitizing and detoxifying our bodies, and has been on the earth longer than people have! There are a few ways that you can use salt to feel better during a time of an illness.

Saline Spray

When most people get congested, they tend to turn to medicinal nose sprays such as Afrin. While these things can seem like a godsend during a desperate need to clear out your sinuses, the unfortunate truth is if you use them too much they can cause harm to your system, or lose their effectiveness. I too have been guilty of turning to the nose sprays during some very uncomfortable times with a cold or flu. I have had to retrain myself to use them only first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and the rest of the time to use a salt saline spray. At first, it won't seem as powerful as the medicine ones, but eventually if you allow it to be used regularly and stay consistent with it, it will get the job done. The salt goes through your sinuses and not only works on unplugging them, but healing them as well. Saline sprays are available in the drug stores and larger retail stores as well, like Target/Walmart, etc, but it is also really easy to make it at home. It is just as convenient to boil some water with salt, have it dissolve into a solution, and fill a small spray bottle. Then, refill as needed....and this is the cheaper route too!

Gargle Gargle....

The other way to use salt to get over a cold, especially when it comes to drainage in the throat and sinuses, is to gargle salt water as often as possible. It may taste heinous and make you gag, but it really does a good job of clearing the gunk out of your throat. The salt makes it easier to loosen up the mucus, and also helps sooth and heal the raw feeling of the throat. It's also very simple to make and quite cost effective. The set up is pretty easy, as you'd expect. All it involves is heating up a coffee cup full of room temperature water for 30 seconds in the microwave then stirring in about a tablespoon of salt. One should definitely use the entire contents of the cup with each round. For me personally, I have spared myself losing my voice (or regained my voice) during several colds I've had.

Did you know...?

  • Ancient Egyptians used honey to treat a wide variety of illnesses and ailments.
  • The Ancient Greeks believed honey to promote longer life and vitality.
  • Chinese medicine has incorpoerated honey as part of several kinds of treatments for 1000s of years, and still do today!
  • Several Arab and Russian physicians have noted the healing qualities of honey for decades.


Since the ancient times, it has been widely known that honey has some strong health benefits. Several scientists have discovered that honey has powerful anti-bacterial properties on at least 60 different species of bacteria. Antibiotics may be essential in certain cases against certain illnesses, but they often don't work against specific types of bacteria. Basically, honey covers more grounds of fighting off different germs! It's a great non-toxic tool, and has strong effects in the results. The best ways to use honey for healing effects include:

  • Taking tablespoons of it throughout the day
  • Adding it to warm tea, which works well with the heat to sooth and distribute it's benefits into your system
  • Mixing it with small amounts of lemon juice, which is fortified with lots of Vitamin C, and consuming it by the spoonfuls
  • Adding it to yogurt (which also has a lot of natural bacteria good for fighting germs)


Lemons are one of the most useful fruits on the planet! It is known to have properties that fight off cancer cells, promote healthy heart conditions, and a source of extremely large amounts of Vitamin C. In fact, it has been discovered that the lemon peel itself (the part we most often throw away) has more Vitamin C than the pulp. Lemon juice as well, has been known as a great asset to fortify foods and drinks with the nutrition our bodies need. As for cold remedies, here are a few ways you can include lemons in your process to feeling better!

  • Squeeze a slice of lemon in some hot tea (goes well with the honey!)
  • Freeze a lemon, then grate it as needed into your food and beverages. Believe it or not, it tastes great in almost anything....from soup, to pasta, to ice cream!
  • Especially when under the weather, add some lemon juice and lemon zest into your water. The aroma is pleasant and you know rest assured knowing that it is helping you combat your virus/infection.

As a side note...

It has also been known that apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss. This is done by drinking a full glass of water with a tablespoon of it first thing in the morning. When you're feeling better, why not use up the rest of the bottle for a healthy new start?

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is great for helping cure a cold for a couple reasons. First, it acts as a mucus thinner and it also helps stabilize the alkaline in the body. It also carries some antibiotic properties which work well with issues revolving around the stomach, too. Some remedy experts have found that apple cider vinegar contains pectin, which can help soothe intestinal spasms. In addition to that, because it is a mucus thinner as mentioned above, it helps out with sinus congestion and can be used to help unplug your nasal cavities. Along with this it can also act as a soother for sore throats! This is because the acidity of it makes it hard for the germs to survive. Here are some tips on using apple cider vinegar for it's healing effects:

  • If gargling salt just isn't working for you as an option, mix 1/4 apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup of water and heat it up until it's warm. Do this as often as possible, but probably every hour or so would give you the best outcome.
  • Mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with a regular glass of water. It may taste tangy, but know that it's going to work for you.
  • Another option would be to mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in with a teaspoon of honey into a glass of water.
  • And now for the kicker, and not for the faint of heart or stomach: Combine 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil. Throw in a tablespoon of honey, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and a lemon wedge...when it cools off, drink up! The combined forces will seem slightly intrusive on your body, but it is a surefire way to loosen up your sinuses in a way you can;t imagine!

Additional Tips to Feeling Better!

  • Eat spicy foods! Anything with cayenne pepper, horseradish, and hot sauce is sure to help loosen up the junk in your head,
  • Ginger is another healthy attribute towards getting an infection out of your system.
  • The old age doctor's advice of drinking lots of liquids actually stands true. The more fluids you can put in your system, the faster you can flush out the virus.
  • Get lots of rest....sleeping is one of the best ways for our bodies to heal!
  • It's been said that a shot of whiskey does wonders for congestion and sore throats! (Of course, if you are of age to consume alcohol)
  • Tiger Balm is a great menthol rub to put on your chest and throat to sooth and loosen up mucus.

What is your most hated symptom of being sick?

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    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Hey there, fivesenses! Thanks for stopping by...yes I LOVE tiger balm. The red kind (as opposed to the white) works the best for me. Gotta love that stuff. :)

    • fivesenses profile image

      Leena 4 years ago from new delhi

      good tips on getting better the natural way...tiger balm works for me too.

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Hi there, smartprincess. I am not a doctor, but I think it would be ok for kids. It doesn't have anything harmful in it. But it is very strong so you may want to mix it with some honey too! I hope these work well for you! :) Thank you for the feedback!

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      And thank you, christryon, for confirming it for me also! Now we know it is not all in our heads :) I really appreciate the feedback! Thanks for coming by!

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Thanks Tygher41! I hope they work well for you! Thanks for stopping by :)

    • smartprincess profile image

      smartprincess 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      I am having a flu, and its a nuisance. I just happened to have landed on this page and went hallelujah when you said apple cider vinegar can help. Since I have a bottle, I have just mixed it with some warm water. Thanks a lot for this tips. By the way can I give my small nephews the apple cider vinegar solution when they have colds? one is three and the other is four.

    • christryon profile image

      christryon 4 years ago

      I have been making tea for several years with lemon juice, honey and ginger. It works every time and our family seldom gets a cold or the flu that lasts for more than 4 days and the worst of the symptoms don't last more than 2 days. Thank you for confirming what our family already knows and does.

    • Tygher41 profile image

      Megan Carroll 4 years ago from Boynton Beach, FL

      Great tips! I currently have a cold, so I'll be trying most (all...) of these tips. Thanks!

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Honey is fantastic and a great natural healing resource for us! I've been using it a lot more these days :) thanks again for stopping by, tattuwurn

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Hey.Steve, wow that drink sounds potent! I do hope you feel better soon.....glad that the garlic is working for you. I will have to remember that drink mixture for when I get sick this year (cuz I know I will!)

    • profile image

      tattuwurn 4 years ago

      I never thought honey could be a good remedy for colds, though I know about some its health and medicinal properties. Thanks again. :)

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by, tattuwurn! I hope you stay well.this winter but glad I could offer some tips if you do get under the weather :) Let me know how they work for you!

    • profile image

      tattuwurn 4 years ago

      Thanks for your wonderful suggestions! I'm prone to that especially during cold months. :)

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Thank you, Mel! Yes my mother did the same, and my grandfather was a doctor and he was a strong believer in salt water and saline spray....i really apprciate the feedback and you are right it is interesting to see how these remedies are known throughout the eras! :)

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      My Mother used to make us gargle with salt water, and also gave us honey administered with lemon juice. It tasted disgusting, and I can't remember if it worked or not, but it goes to show that some of the old wives remedies have a scientific basis. Interesting hub.

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Thanks Pamela! I hope they work out for you as well as they do for me! I appreciate the feedback a ton. Thank you for stopping by! :)

    • Pamela Mae Oliver profile image

      Pamela Mae Oliver 4 years ago from Georgia

      Wow! Your article is packed with helpful tips! Thanks!

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      I agree Jennifer, the garlic works really well! Could do without the intense after taste, but at a certain point I will pretty much do anything to make the cold go away :) Thank you for the feedback, good to know this stuff works on others as well! :)

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Thank you tutorhelpdesk2011, I appreciate you stopping by!

    • Jennifer Madison profile image

      Jennifer Madison 4 years ago from Lohmar

      I can confirm that garlic and honey can cause miracles. Whenever I feel slightly sick, my throat starts aching or headaches set in, I take a clove of garlic, chop it up and put it on a spoon with honey on top. Then I eat the treat. I won't comment on the taste bu in my opinion it works like antibiotics only naturally! Thanks for sharing!

    • tutorhelpdesk2011 profile image

      Tutor Help Desk 4 years ago from New Delhi, India

      nice post...