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Natural Cough, Cold and Flu Remedies

Updated on February 7, 2013

Common Cures for Common Ailments

We have all experienced the misery of the common cold and flu. And once you have contracted one of these common ailments, there is no known cure, other than the amazing action of our own immune systems. However, nature has provided us with an array of herbs and spices that are powerful for relieving symptoms and boosting the body's immune response. Thankfully, as easy as the cold and flu are to catch in our cramped societies, the natural remedies are just as easy to come by. Made from common cooking herbs and spices or easily acquired herbal tinctures and oils, you can be on the mend quickly, at minimal expense.

Photo credit: FreeDigitImages.net

Photo credit:  FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Cures in the Cupboard

Before diving into more complicated recipes for remedy compounds, let's explore some simple remedies using common, everyday ingredients.

Onions: Onions contain chemicals that are natural decongestants and expectorants. To loosen phlegm and mucus, simply cut a red onion in half, close your eyes, and sniff! If that doesn't work, eat a few slices of the raw onion (add them to a sandwich or salad, if you can't stomach them alone.) When you begin to feel congested, whirl a peeled large red onion in a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar,both of which are anti-bacterial and immune-boosting substances. Store the mixture in the refrigerator, and take a large spoonful every hour or two until congestion is relieved.

Horseradish: If you have a jar of pure or prepared horseradish in the fridge, open the lid and sniff. Similar to the action of onions, just the smell may begin to relieve congestion. Eating the horseradish will increase the effectiveness. Additionally, just as with the onion, a quarter cup of pure or fresh horseradish can be blended with 1/2 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and stored in the refrigerator to be taken as needed to break up mucus and phlegm.

Garlic, hot peppers and ginger: These all contain decongestant properties and are immune boosters. Use them in the same way described for onions and horseradish.

Water: At the first sign of cold or flu, begin to drink plenty of water to help decrease congestion. In the form of steam, water is a miracle worker for relieving congestion. Use an electric vaporizer or simply take a hot, steamy shower. To maximize the steam effect, heat a pan of water to boiling and remove it from the heat. Cover your head with a towel, forming a tent. Lean over the pot and inhale the steam. Be cautious of burning yourself with the hot steam, and avoid using this remedy with children. Add a few drops of eucalyptus or wild oregano oil to the pot to increase the effectiveness of this remedy (see the section below concerning oils and tinctures.)

When water is mixed with salt, it becomes one of the most effective tools for clearing the sinuses and congestion in the throat. For gargling, mix 1/2 TBSP of salt with a cup of warm water. To clear the sinuses, mix 1/2 TBSP of salt with 1 cup of warm purified water (do not use tap water that may contain harmful bacteria.) Cup your hand and pour a little saltwater into your palm. Breathe in the saltwater through one nostril and tilt your head back. Then lean your head back down over a sink and let the saltwater drain back out. Repeat with the other nostril. Some of the saltwater may drain down your throat or burn your sinuses, but is not harmful. To increase the effectiveness or to help cure a sinus infection, use a Neti pot to administer the salt water and cleanse the sinuses. Though it may seem awkward and uncomfortable at first, a Neti pot is one of the most powerful and simple home remedies available.

Chamomile: A tea that contains the herb chamomile can reduce phlegm. Add honey to your tea to increase its effectiveness.

Lemon: The acid in a lemon can help to clear phlegm from the throat. It also contains anti-bacterial properties and vitamin-C, an immune-boosting vitamin that also acts to clear congestion. Add lemon to a cup of hot water or tea for quick relief.

Neti Pots

Neti pots are an inexpensive and effective home remedy. Be certain to use purified water when using a Neti pot to prevent the transmission of potentially harmful bacteria to the sinuses. Amazon offers FREE Super Saver shipping on qualified orders of $25 or more.

Have You Used a Neti Pot?

Have you every tried using a Neti pot to relieve congestion or a sinus infection? If so, what was your experience?

Would you recommend using a Neti pot to others?

Yes, I highly recommend using a Neti pot. It is an effective remedy.

Yes, I highly recommend using a Neti pot. It is an effective remedy.

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    • phookes 4 years ago

      I use it every morning. Haven't really suffered of stuffy nose since I started using it.

    • CampingmanNW 4 years ago

      Yep....tried it once and it worked great. Looks icky...works great.

    No, I have never tried to use one, or I don't recommend it.

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      • masunyoananda 4 years ago

        No, I've ever used it before. In fact, it's the first time I'm knowing about it. Thanks a lot for sharing.

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I've heard the term NetiPot but always wondered what it was. Now I know! Thanks for the post. Visiting today from Thursday's Favorite Things. :)

      • DebMartin 4 years ago

        I'm blessed that I rarely get ill and almost never congested. I've never tried a Neti Pot but I can't imagine using one. It seems kind of creepy to me. I know others that swear by them though.

      Photo credit:  FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
      Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

      Homemade Cough Relievers and Expectorants

      One of the simplest and best home remedies to relieve a cough is a spoonful of honey mixed with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or cinnamon. Mix 1/2 cup of honey with 1/2 tsp cayenne or cinnamon and store in a jar for easy relief.

      For a cough coupled with congestion, you can make your own expectorant to loosen mucus and phlegm. Visit the Titus 2 Homemaker to view Rachel Ramey's 'Homemade Decongestant' recipe that uses radishes, red onion, garlic, lemon and honey to make a powerful, natural expectorant.

      Homemade Decongestant

      To control a nagging cough, make your own herbal cough drops using horehound and honey. Substitute mint or sage, if the taste or availability of horehound are prohibitive. Mother Earth Living published this fantastic recipe. Visit their website to make these homemade cough drops.

      Make Your Own Medicine: Homemade Cough Drops

      Frugally Sustainable shares another horehound cough drop recipe, using dried horehound. You can view it at the Frugally Sustainable website.

      Horehound Lozenges: The Homemade Remedy For Sore Throats, Coughs, and Asthma"

      Not familiar with horehound? It is a perennial herbaceous plant indigenous to Britain, and found all over Europe. White Horehound is a hardy plant that is easy to grown. It flourishes well in a dry, poor soil. It can be propagated from seeds the springtime. It requires very little care and when it is two years old, it will begin to flower.

      White Horehound is noted for its efficacy in lung troubles, coughs and asthma. A simple remedy is to make a tea by pouring boiling water over dried horehound leaves. Strain and drink to relieve cold symptoms.

      Horehound can be grown from seed or purchased in a dry or tincture form.

      Photo credit:  FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
      Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

      Sore Throat Relief

      Oil of Oregano

      Oil of Oregano is a highly potent substance that is extracted from wild oregano plants. Two important compounds found in it are carvacrol and thymol. Studies have shown that these compounds have significant action against harmful micro-organisms that cause many human ills.

      The ancient Greeks recognized oregano oil for its medicinal qualities and health benefits. It is known to have powerful antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic properties. It is widely used to reduce pain and inflammation and fight off infections.

      When you feel the sniffles or a sore throat coming on, Oil of Oregano is an excellent as an early defense.. Simply take 3 drops of the oil mixed with warm water or juice. If you are very brave, use a dropper to place a drop of the oil directly on our tonsils, and hold it there as long as you can before washing it down with water or juice. You should notice symptom relief within a few hours. Repeat two or three times daily for up to 5 days until the symptoms disappear.

      Besides improving respiratory health, Oil of Oregano is also known for destroying organisms that contribute to digestive upset and skin infections. It is used to strengthen the immune system and increase joint and muscle flexibility.

      Do not use Oil of Oregano if you have iron deficiency, are pregnant, or are allergic to thyme, basil, mint, or sage.

      Oil of Oregano can be found in many natural health or nutrition stores, or from online retailers such as Amazon.com. choose an oil that it is derived from Origanum Vulgare, with a carvacrol concentration of 70% or greater.

      Photo credit:  FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
      Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

      Eucalyptus Oil

      Eucalyptus essential oil is extracted from fresh leaves of the evergreen eucalyptus tree, Eucalyptus Globulus, also known as blue gum, stringy bark, or fever tree. Eucalyptus is native to Australia.

      The health benefits of eucalyptus oil can be attributed to a compound called 'eucalyptol,' which is know for its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, decongestant, antiseptic, antibacterial, stimulating, and other medicinal properties, as well as deodorant properties.

      Eucalyptus essential oil is clear and has a distinctive aroma. It is used as an effective treatment for cough, cold, running nose, sore throat, asthma, nasal congestion, bronchitis and sinusitis.

      Gargle a three drops of eucalyptus oil mixed with warm water to treat sore throat. To relieve chest congestion, mix three drops of eucalyptus oil with a tablespoon of olive oil, and rub directly onto the skin of the upper chest and back. Use eucalyptus sparingly, as it is toxic in large amounts.

      Eucalyptus oil is an effective treatment for respiratory symptoms, and it tends to be more economical than other types of herbal oils. A great value in the kitchen cupboard, eucalyptus oil has numerous household uses in addition to its medicinal value.

      Secret Weapon Against Cold, Flu and Norwalk Virus (Stomach Flu)

      Prevention and Treatment

      If you have been exposed to a cold, flu or Norwalk virus, or feel the symptoms coming on, here is a powerful herbal remedy to help prevent or curtail debilitating illness. Created by Chris Joybilee Farm, this herbal recipe combines the healing properties of cayenne, ginger, garlic and Oil of Oregano with the power of turmeric, a potent antioxidant that also has antiviral and purifying properties. The ingredients and supplies that are necessary to make this treatment are easy to assemble, and I recommend making and keeping these capsules on hand for quick use following exposure to illness, as a preventative measure when flying or visiting a hospital, or to decrease symptoms if you have contracted a cold or flu. This treatment is also an effective deterrent to stomach upset and wards off nausea.

      Photo credit:  Joybilee Farm
      Photo credit: Joybilee Farm

      If you have been exposed to a cold, flu or Norwalk virus, or feel the symptoms coming on, here is a powerful herbal remedy to help prevent or curtail debilitating illness. Created by Chris at Joybilee Farm, this herbal recipe combines the healing properties of cayenne, ginger, garlic and Oil of Oregano with the power of turmeric, a potent antioxidant that also has antiviral and purifying properties. The ingredients and supplies that are necessary to make this treatment are easy to assemble, and I recommend making and keeping these capsules on hand for quick use following exposure to illness, as a preventative measure when flying or visiting a hospital, or to decrease symptoms if you have contracted a cold or flu. This treatment is also an effective deterrent to stomach upset and wards off nausea.

      Serving Size

      Serves: Makes 120 capsules

      Ingredients

      • 2 TBSp cayenne pepper
      • 2 TBSP garlic powder
      • 2 TBSP turmeric poweder
      • 2 TBSP granulated ginger
      • 5 drops Oil of Oregano
      • 120 gelatin capsules
      • Capsule machine

      Instructions

      1. Add all ingredients to a glass jar. Using a glass or wooden stirring rod, mix completely, pressing out any lumps or clumping in the spices.
      2. Using your capsule machine, separate and layout the capsules ready to fill. Fill capsules according to the directions that came with your capsule filling machine or use the directions available by following the link below.
      3. To view the original recipe and commentary by Chris at Joybilee Farm, click on the photo or click here.
      Cast your vote for Colds, Flu and Norwalk Virus (Stomach Flu)

      Visit the Joybilee Farm website to view easy-to-follow instructions for filling gelatin capsules with a capsule machine. You can purchase organic spices, capsules and the machine through the Joybilee website, or from Amazon.com. If you prefer to buy the spices in bulk, larger quantities are available from Amazon. Qualified orders of $25 or more receive FREE Super Saver shipping, so it may be a benefit to stock up during cold and flu season.

      Homestead pharmacy: Save money by making your own herbal capsules

      Photo credit:  FreeDigitalPhotos.Net
      Photo credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

      Old-Fashioned Chicken Soup

      For generations, moms have been making chicken soup to relieve their families' cold and flu symptoms. Chicken soup may help to reduce symptoms in two key ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting neutrophils, which are immune system cells that are responsible in part for the body's inflammatory response. Secondly, it temporarily loosens mucus and speeds its movement, which can help to relieve congestion and limit the amount of time that the nose lining is exposed to viruses.

      Visit Katherine's Corner to view a delicious Chicken Noodle Soup recipe. This particular recipe lists milk as an optional ingredient. Omit the milk if you are making the soup to relieve congestion, as milk can increase mucus production.

      Chicken Noodle Soup

      Another recipe that was featured on the Doctor Oz television program combines the ant-inflammatory power of chicken broth with the immune-boosting nature of ginger. The recipe calls for the addition of parsnip, which can be omitted if it is unavailable in your local markets.

      Oz Family Chicken Soup

      For a change of pace, try Tom Yum Soup a Thai recipe that is currently under study for it's curative properties. It combines the healing power of chicken broth, chili peppers, onion and citrus, and sometimes includes ginger, too. Order from your favorite Thai restaurant, or make your own at home. To learn more about Tom Yum, visit the links near the end of this article.

      Tom Yum Gai (Thai Hot & Sour Chicken Soup)

      Notice:

      The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and are not intended to diagnose or treat any specific medical condition. This article does not make claims as to the effectiveness of any herbal or natural treatment. As always, consult a the advice of a medical professional before using any herbal or natural preparation.

      The private websites, and the information linked to both on and from this site, is opinion and information. Please note that Kari makes every effort to offer accurate, common-sense advice on this website, but she is not a physician, and the content on the site is not to be construed as medical advice.

      Dig Deeper

      Here are some places that I love on the web. If you have a related lens or website that you would like posted here, send me a message. Kindly link back to this lens from your webapge.

      Do you have a favorite herbal or food-based remedy to kick the symptoms of colds and flu? Share it here. If you have a related website that you would like to share, leave a link. Kindly return the favor and link back to this article from your website.

      By What Remedies Do You Swear?

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        • phookes profile image

          phookes 4 years ago

          Vitamin D and NAC are my favorites. I also use Chaga tea and Reishi capsules to boost my immunity.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          stopping by from Clever Chicks' hop. thanks for sharing! Pinned it. :)

          Christine

          www.MyEpicureanAdventures.com

        • tobydavis profile image

          tobydavis 4 years ago

          I'm under the weather at the mo' and have been relying on my homemade Ginger Bread : baked up a particularly strong batch yesterday and by mid morning today was already starting to breathe a lot easier. Ginger is fantastic for so many things.

        • Aibrean82 profile image

          Aibrean82 4 years ago

          An infusion of lemongrass and ginger, with lots of honey, works wonders for a sore throat and chesty cough. Lots of great information here - I have pinned it to return again later :)

        • lulin123 profile image

          lulin123 4 years ago

          Just like you posted, chamomile tea is great! Especially to soothe a sore throat! Great lens.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          This is really a great, comprehensive list of home remedies! Thank you for sharing it on Wildcrafting Wednesday!

        • VictoriaKelley profile image

          VictoriaKelley 4 years ago

          I love anything that is natural and healthy to use. I no longer trust medications because of all the ingredients. If you cant even pronounce the names on the box you shouldn't be using it. I just got over a cold and I used all natural ways to cure myself.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Thanks so much for sharing all of this wonderful, helpful information with us.

          xo

          Claudia

        • Mariel-JD profile image

          Mariel-JD 4 years ago

          I use echinacea - sometimes it works magically to zap a cold totally, if you catch it early; sometimes it just seems to reduce the severity. I'm going to try those herbal remedy capsules, though - looks wicked!

        • profile image

          DebMartin 4 years ago

          A good long nap until it's all over. And chicken soup or broth.

        • CoolFool83 profile image

          CoolFool83 4 years ago

          These are really effective remedies.

        • profile image

          ericsdorsey 4 years ago

          I'm a nurse and I suggest plenty of fluids. You can clear the stuff out of your head by taking a hot shower or using the simply saline nose sprays.

        • peninsula profile image

          peninsula 4 years ago

          Rest, relaxation and fluids

        • CampingmanNW profile image

          CampingmanNW 4 years ago

          Chicken soup, lots of fluids and rest. Great lens by the way. I do believe I learned a few new tricks

        • lucybrz1 profile image

          lucybrz1 4 years ago

          Great tips and remedies!

        • Scraps2treasures profile image

          Scraps2treasures 4 years ago

          Excellent tips. I am still recovering from the flu. Wish I would have seen this page earlier! Blessed.

        • profile image

          anonymous 4 years ago

          Great job. i am all for natural remedies, there should be more of them.

        • beeingwell profile image

          beeingwell 4 years ago

          These were some great tips. thanks for posting. I would add that I always have lysine plus capsules on hand (its a mix of propolis echinacea and garlic) for overall immune support and for congestion I use both simply saline nasal mist and because I have a scarred lung and have to keep colds out of my chest, I use chlorophyll! It has saved me from bronchitis and pneumonia several times. :)