My thanks to the Wellness Mama for her assistance with this post
Holistic Cold and Flu Prevention
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… you’ve heard it a million times, but how does it practically relate to illness prevention? In short, giving the body what it needs and keeping a constant supply of nutrients will help ensure that the body can resist any pathogen it encounters. Following a basic Wellness Lifestyle will go a long way toward preventing illness, as you will be supporting the body to function optimally. Avoiding grains, sugars and other highly starchy foods will also ensure that the body is functioning at peak immunity should it encounter a virus or bacteria. Some studies show that optimizing vitamin D goes a long way to preventing illness and shortening duration.
Getting enough sleep is also crucial to preventing illness, and even a couple nights of interrupted or not enough sleep can leave the body worn down and unable to resist illness. Regular exercise has also been shown to reduce the number of times a person gets ill per year and the duration. But I’m sure you are already doing all that… so in the off chance you are doing all of the above and you still get sick, don’t worry- there are natural ways to heal faster!
Natural Treatment for Cold, Flu, and Illness
Once you or your child has contracted an illness, there are a lot of natural options that can shorten the duration of the illness and lessen the symptoms. I’ve included my whole bag of tricks below, so pick and choose what works for you. I get all my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon, though there are a lot of places that carry them. Just look for organically grown herbs and make sure they are fresh. Also I have taken a few classes from Dr. Christopher’s School of Natural Healing. He is a MASTER HERBALIST if you have any interest this is one of the BEST online schools out there!
Home Remedies From Things Already In Your House
Garlic- A powerhouse natural antibiotic, anti fungal, and antibacterial, garlic can tackle almost any illness. For the most potent effect, finely mince 1-2 cloves or garlic and float in a small glass of water. Drink quickly- if you are sick enough, you won’t even notice the taste. Note: Pregnant women should not take more than 1 clove of garlic medicinally per day, and children often resist this remedy. I make sure and take garlic pills from the the Garlinase almost daily and then when I feel any twinge of sickness I really down these like M&M”s! If ever you feel a twinge of anything just dial 911 GARLIC!
Hydrogen Peroxide- At the first sign of cold, flu, sinus infection, or ear infection, put a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide into each ear. Have the person lie still with the hydrogen peroxide in the ear until it stops bubbling. Do this on both sides. This is especially effective for kids. Repeat every few hours until infection is gone.
One of My Favorites is Using The-Himalayan Institute Original Neti Pot Complete Sinus Cleansing System Starter Kit
- The Neti Pot Starter Kit contains everything needed for a daily nasal wash routine
- Naturally removes excess mucus, pollen, dust, and other environmental irritants from the sinus passages
- Enhances sinus and immune support with Neti Wah Plus
- Doctor recommended; featured on America’s favorite talk show
- Made with lead-free ceramic and glaze; illustrated instructions are included
Purchase the Neti Wash Plus Daily Neti Pot Boost- This formula contains soothing herbal extracts, essential oils, and Xylitol to cool, decongest, and invigorate. It helps to nourish and moisturize nasal passages and provides anti-microbial properties to support the health of your sinuses.
Neti Wash Plus contains 5 herbal extracts, essential oils of Peppermint, Eucalyptus, and Menthol and other ingredients that mildly cleanse and soothe the sinuses. It also contains Xylitol which research has shown to inhibit the growth of certain types of bacteria.Breathe in the steam as long as you can, aim for 15 minutes. This will help loosen congestion and kill viruses and bacteria in the lungs, bronchials or sinuses. Alternately, you can use 1/2 cup vinegar in the steam. It won’t smell great, but it will help fight the illness.
Cinnamon- Good for more than just stabilizing blood sugar, cinnamon is an effective antiviral and antibiotic. When sick, mix 1 tablespoon with 1 teaspoon of (Manuka +16 or above ONLY) honey and stir to make a spicy and very effective tea that helps relieve cough and congestion and lower fever.
- Remove White Foods- At the first sign of illness, completely remove all white foods from the diet. This includes grains, sugars, milk, cheese, dairy, sweeteners, soda, etc. These foods suppress immune function and slow the body’s healing ability. When you are ill, you don’t actually need to eat a lot of food, as the body needs to focus more on healing than digestion. Eat fresh made soups and drink hot liquids , and green smoothies made in your Vitamix to keep strength up.
- Hydrate and Rest- If the body is running a fever (which means it is fighting the illness) the best support you can give is to stay well hydrated on water and herbal teas and to rest enough. The body needs several extra hours of rest a day when ill, and often several extra glasses of water also, at least half your body weight in ounces per day. If you are running a fever, it is easier to get dehydrated, so drink enough water and use the mint clorophyl.
Herbs to help beat cold and flu:
There are many herbs that support the body when healing from an illness. I recommend buying these from a trusted source online or growing them yourself, though you can find some of them at supplement stores.
- Nettle Leaf- Some natural doctors say this is the only herb needed for illness treatment. It contains large amounts of vitamins and trace minerals and helps the body stay hydrated and remove toxins. In a tea with Red Raspberry Leaf, Alfalfa and Peppermint, it makes a powerful immune supporting and illness preventing remedy.
- Elderberry- Elderberry is well known for supporting the body, especially during flu. You can find conventionally made elderberry syrups at many stores now.
- Ginger- In capsule form, ginger can greatly help with nausea and vomiting associated with the flu. It can also help with high fever and headache. Fresh ginger root can be steeped in boiling water to make a tea that is very effective against sinus symptoms and congestion.
- Yarrow- Unsurpassed for flu and fever, and great for children. If used abundantly in tea or tincture at the beginning of an illness, it will usually shorten the illness to less than 24 hours. It is especially good for fevers as it induces perspiration and is great for all childhood type illnesses. It is naturally bitter, so it is often good to include peppermint and stevia leaf when making a tea. It is great for the liver and kidneys and supports the endocrine system.
- Chamomile- An absolute staple, especially for kids. Chamomile calms the nerves, helps children sleep better and reduces inflammation or fever. Soaking a chamomile tea bag in warm water and placing over an eye for 15 minutes every 2 hours will relieve pink eye in less than 24 hours. Chamomile tastes great and is easy to get kids to take. We use it in tea and tincture formula. It is also great for regulating hormones and for the skin and can be used regularly for good sleep.
- Peppermint- Great for all digestive disturbances and for lowering fever. It can be used as a tea or tincture or rubbed on the skin to bring a high fever down. It is antimicrobial and antiviral and kids usually love the taste. It can be consumed as a hot tea or cold tea during illness in any amounts.
- Catnip- A traditional cold and flu remedy, and a great herb for children. It helps induce sleep and settles the stomach. As a tincture or tea, it is a great herb for combating flu, cold or other illness.
- My Favorite is Red Clover- Very high in nutrients, Red Clover purifies the blood and relaxes the body. It has been used in hormonal preparations, but is also useful in treating almost any illness. Can be used in tea or tincture. Nature’s Answer alcohol free extracts are produced using alcohol, water and natural extractants. All alcohol and extractants are then removed through our cold Bio-Chelated proprietary extraction process, yielding a Holistically Balanced standardized extract. Liquid extracts are absorbed faster than tablets or capsules and are more potent than tinctures. Holistically Balanced guarantees that the constituents of the extract are in the same synergistic ratios as in the plant
Try Defense Plus and the Ayurvedic Tea Called “ZAP”
Herbal Zap, is an all-natural Ayurvedic Immune and Respiratory support supplement. It is an instantly dissolving beverage that comes individual packets, much like Emergen-C. Herbal Zap is intended to be used with hot water. It has a soothing aroma and a zesty taste.
The Ayurvedic Herbal Zap formula is based on an ancient, trusted remedy, known as Kashaya in South India and Peyawa in Sri Lanka. Like its predecessors, Herbal Zap is blended from locally grown and freshly harvested herbs from the pristine hills of Sri Lanka. In order to translate the ancient remedy into an easy to use, easy to transport herbal supplement, a panel of Sri Lanka’s most distinguished Ayurvedic physicians met to create the Herbal Zap formula. As a result, people all over the world now enjoy/experience the immune and respiratory-support benefits of ancient, authentic, Ayurvedic medicine. The Herbal Zap formula has sold in South Asia for 14 years and currently sells 7 million packets monthly. It is arguably the best selling natural cold and flu supplement in South Asia.
Defense Plus enhances the body’s defense system and providing nutritional support for people with certain health concerns.
The best time to take DefensePlus is when you feel you might be coming down with a ‘bug’, or if you feel your immune system has been compromised. It is not an everyday supplement.
I’ve been researching and using holistic remedies for over 30 years, and I was very happy to come upon this product, as it is a
wonderfully supportive blend and potency of herbs, mushrooms, and supplements. I take it at the first signs of immune system imbalance or depressed resistance, and especially if I am around others that are beginning to show, or already have symptoms of a cold or flu. If I am not feeling well, it helps “kick it out” of my system, and I have escaped many contagious viruses when I stay on top of taking the recommended dosage, which is to take 1 tablet 3 times daily for a minimum of 15 days. See the product here and more reviews on amazon. All 5 Star!
Enzymatic Therapy Cell Forte W/ip-6, WOW!
Serious Deep Immune Defense for Life-Changing Results – Time is precious. So when enhancing your deep immune health is your top priority, take action toward triumphant results with Cell Forte IP-6 & Inositol. This special blend of IP-6 and inositol helps give you the power to prevail by delivering scientifically-studied, exceptional support for the most critical cells in your immune system.Cell Forte IP-6 & Inositol gets to work FAST – The patented combination of ingredients in Cell Forte IP-6 & Inositol boosts the body’s natural cellular defenses by increasing the levels of inositol phosphates in your cells, natural substances found in your body to help enhance the immune system.The Power to Prevail – It’s time to take serious action toward defending your deep immune health naturally with the patented, powerful protection of Cell Forte IP-6 & Inositol, the leader since 1998.For maximum effectiveness, IP-6 (found in the bran of brown rice) and inositol (part of the vitamin B family) are featured together in a unique, powerful ratio found only in Cell Forte IP-6 & Inositol.Cell Forte IP-6 Inositol’s targeted deep immune support: Boosts the body’s natural defenses Enhances healthy cell growth Dramatically increases natural killer-cell activity
A quote from Amazon: “I’ve been using this product for almost a year now. Before using it I used to get respiratory infections all the time, and catch cold frequently. Since I’ve been using this, I have not been sick once not even the sniffles, I have more energy and within the last few months I have lost a considerable amount of weight, don’t know if this related, but I have never felt better since using this product.”
Vitamins For Cold and Flu Treatment
- Vitamin D3- A hormone precursor, this vitamin is finally getting recognition as a necessary nutrient for health. Optimizing Vitamin D levels can help prevent illness in the first place, and taking several thousand IU a day while sick can help speed recovery. Blood tests can help determine any underlying deficiency. This can also be obtained from supplements like Fermented Cod Liver Oil.
- Vitamin C- Perhaps the best vitamin for cold and flu, vitamin C in large amounts can greatly speed recovery. Most adults need 2,000-5,000 mg a day or more when ill, and kids can need up to 2,000 mg. It is water soluble, so chance of overdose is low. In severe cases, patients were given 100,000 mg/day in an IV formula and these patients recovered from cases of the flu that were deemed terminal. Use the ascorbic acid form, and chewable varieties are available for kids.
- Zinc- Can prevent a cold or flu virus from reproducing and can help relieve respiratory symptoms. Adults should consume 50-75 mg a day when sick in capsule or lozenge.
Natural Antibiotics and Antivirals for Illness Treatment
There are several potent natural antibiotics that in some cases work much better than store bought varieties. The following are ones I keep around at all times:
- Oregano and Oregano Oil- Oregano oil is a potent natural antibiotic and antiviral. When 5-6 drops are put in a glass of water and gargled, it can stop a sore throat in its tracks. 5-6 drops in a glass of water swallowed can help kill flu or infection in under 24 hours. It is tough to get kids to take oregano oil, as it is very strong. Pregnant women should not take oregano oil. Source Naturals has a good liquid oil here
- Thyme and Thyme Oil- A tea (not nice tasting) made from thyme is very effective against cold and flu. Thyme oil rubbed on the skin will help the body fight infection. Pregnant women and small children should not use thyme.
Other Effective Natural Remedies
- Coconut Oil- Coconut oil is high in lauric acid and is thought to dissolve the lipid coating around some viruses and make them more susceptible to attack by the immune system. If sick, aim for 5-6 tablespoons per day in food or melted and stirred into hot tea. Coconut oil has many other health benefits as well and is known to boost the immune system.
- Onions and Garlic on the Feet at night- For extreme cases of illness, I slice onion and garlic and place all over the bottom of the infected person’s foot (rub olive oil on the foot first). I then wrap the foot in saran wrap and place a sock on overnight. Onions and garlic have been shown to pull toxins and help the body heal. Some natural practitioners even claim that having cut onions around will absorb toxins and keep others in the family from getting sick, though I have not tried this.
- Apple Cider Vinegar Gargle and Drink- Yes, it tastes awful, but if you are sick enough, you won’t taste it anyway. Drink a tablespoon in water (gargle first) at the first sign of illness and repeat hourly until symptoms disappear. This alkalizes the body and helps kill viruses and bacteria.Apple Cider Vinegar has been highly regarded throughout history. In 400 B.C. the great Hippocrates, Father of Medicine, used it for its amazing health qualities. INTERNAL BENEFITS: ? Rich in enzymes & potassium ? Naturally support a healthy immune system ? Helps control weight ?Promotes digestion & ph Balance ?Helps soothe dry throats ?Helps remove body sludge toxins EXTERNAL BENEFITS: ?Helps maintain healthy skin ?Helps promote youthful, healthy bodies ?Soothes irritated skin ?Relieves muscle pain from exercise I drink this before bed every night. FYI, better than any tums, prilosec, milanta or other anti acid formulas. Try it and feel how fast it works, open the cap and drink 1 ounce! You will feel it going to work and fast, not to mention it is far healthier for your system.
- Chlorophyll in Water- You can find concentrated chlorophyll with a mint flavoring- I love this one! I will drink it straight or add it to my water that I sip on thorughout the day. Chlorophyll is a great blood purifier and can help bring fever down. It alkalizes the body and is very high in nutrients. For mild illness, this is often all that is needed to help children recover.
- Thieves Essential Oil (to rub on little feet at the first signs of an illness) Thieves® was created based on research about four Thieves® who, during the 15th-century plague, used cloves, rosemary, and other aromatics to protect themselves while robbing plague victims. Thieves® is a proprietary blend of pure essential oils tested at Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, and found to be effective against airborne bacteria.
- My Favorites are Thieves Spray and Propolis Spray: Propolis Eliminates Bacteria One study investigated the anti-bacterial capabilities of bee propolis in the mouth and more specifically with regards to root canals.The researchers compared propolis with calcium hydroxide, which apparently is a very effective anti-microbial, and found that it is significantly more powerful than the calcium at eliminating certain germs.Propolis has traditionally been used to kill colds and flu so this study clearly shows that it has powerful bacteria killing properties throughout the body. I now know why it takes away my sore throat so effectively any time I feel a tickle and why one of the primary health benefits of propolis stated by long term users is as a cold and flu tonic! 1 ounce bottle, great for people who sing, public speakers, sales people and more… More benefits of Propolis here
Putting It All Together For Purchase
There are a lot of options in natural illness treatment, so what do you actually do when illness hits? Below is my cheat sheet that I keep in my herb/superfood cabinet for reference whenever anyone in the neighborhood starts to show signs of illness, I usually get an email, or a question. Remember, the earlier you can catch an illness, often the easier it is to beat.
- Hydrogen Peroxide in ears
- Enzymatic Therapy Cell Forte W/ip-6 get the larger bottle you will use this after you read the reviews I promise you that.
- or Defense Plus 2 Pills in the Am 2 in the PM for at least 7 days
- Drink the Flor Essence Tea, only 2 oz, twice daily. Mix with 2 0z hot water and sip slowly for 4 minutes. Holding the liquid in your mouth for 30 seconds helps it become more bio available to the body
- If you cant afford the Flor Essence brand of tea, Go for the ZAP tea.
- The-Himalayan Institute Original Neti Pot Complete Sinus Cleansing System Starter Kit and Himalayan Institute Neti Wash
- Thieves Spray every 2 hours, at your desk or by your night stand. Or use the Propolis Spray
- Removal of all grains, dairy, sugars. You feed the flu with sugar, you starve the flu when you remove it
- Consumption of only water with chlorophyll and herbal tea (not orange juice gang, thats sugar)
- Garlic in water followed by cinnamon & manuka +16 honey tea (twice a day) or you can take the capsules like I do followed by the cinnamon & manuka.
- Chamomile, Yarrow, Catnip and Peppermint tincture (every 3 hours)
- Cool nettle, red raspberry, alfalfa and peppermint tea to sip with grapefruit seed extract added, if not doing the Flor Essence or Essiac tea
- Edlerberry syrup every 2 hours
- Vitamin C and Zinc every 2-3 hours in small doses until bowel tolerance (if you take to much you will know it. Why? you will have a loose stool)
- Apple cider vinegar gargle and drink every few hours. Just do it! Also works if you have acid reflux
- Hot tea with melted coconut oil before bed
- Onions and garlic on feet during sleep
- Green smoothies for nutrition through out the day (Try This Dr Oz Green Deink Recipe), you will need a Vitamix or other high powered blender)
How to Make Your Own Herbal Tincture for Kids
This tincture is great for symptom relief for kids and adults. I have found it to work better than Tylenol or cough syrups and it is healthier too! It is simple to make, and you can get all the ingredients here. Ingredients:
- 2/3 cup dried chamomile flowers
- 2/3 cup dried yarrow flowers
- 2/3 cup dried peppermint leaf
- 2/3 cup dried catnip herb
- 100 proof gluten free Quinoa vodka
What to do:
- Put all herbs in 1 quart mason glass jar
- Pour 80-100 proof organic “non grain” brand vodka over herbs, filling jar
- Let steep at least two weeks, but preferably 2 months, shaking daily.
- Store in cool, dark place.
- After 2 weeks-2 months, strain liquid through cheesecloth and store in glass dropper botles for easy use. Store in a cool, dark place and it will last indefinitely.
- Use 8-10 drops for kids over age 2 whenever ill.
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Important Notes: I am a clinical nutritionist, and a functional diagnostic nutritionist, not a doctor, nor do I claim to be a doctor. I cannot treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any illness. If you have concerns about any illness, talk to your doctor. Do you own research on natural remedies to ensure that you think they are safe. I earn a small commission through the links above, though the price is the same for you. If you do not wish to use my affiliate link, go to the site directly. If your are pregnant or nursing, consult a qualified specialist before taking any herb or supplement. Thanks to all who helped me put up this post!
BONUS STUFF FOR YOU SO YOU CAN GET OUT AND PLAY AGAIN!
Boost Your Immunity: Thanks to the Real Food RN!
- Thump Your Thymus Gland by Learning and Yearning
- Garlic Syrup (get your kids to eat more garlic) by Growing Up Herbal
- #1 Herb To Have On Hand During Winter Months by Growing Up Herbal
- Boost Your Immune System This Winter by Growing Up Herbal
- Winter Detox, Brain, and Immune Boosting Cold Remedy by Earth Friendly Goodies
- How to Make Raw Medicinal Honey with Ginger and Rose-hips by Earth Friendly Goodies
- Will You Get Sick This Flu Season: 6 Steps to Build Your Immune System by Fooduciary
- 7 Natural Remedies for Children by DIY Natural
- 10 Foods Your Body Needs to Fight Off Cold and Flu Season by Whole Green Love
- Nature’s Antibiotic: Honey as a Healer by Health Nut Nation
- My Date With Mr. Hot Toddy: A Natural Cold Fighting Remedy by Earth Friendly Goodies
- Hey, Who Stole My Cold? Thieves Oil Strikes Again by Earth Friendly Goodies
- Home Remedies for a Cold by Kelly the Kitchen Kop
- Honey and Cinnamon: A Simple Cold Home Remedy that Kids Love! by Health, Home & Happiness
- The Only Cure I Need for the Common Cold by Butter Believer
- 10 Natural Home Remedies for Colds by Happy Mothering
- 5 Foods to Fight a Cold Without Medicine by Our Heritage of Health
- Natural Remedies for the Flu by Real Food Forager
- 3 Steps to Getting A Head Start On Flu Season (video) by Growing Up Herbal
- Try a Cup of Elderberry Tea for Colds and Flu by Earth Friendly Goodies
- No Flu ‘Tea’ by Homemade Mommy
- Flu Prevention and Cultured Veggies by Nourished Kitchen
- Flu Remedies by OhLardy!
- How We Use Essential Oils to Fight Colds and Flu by The Prairie Homestead
- Natural Cold and Flu Remedy by DIY Natural
- Plague Tonic: A Safe Flu Shot Alternative by 20 Something Allergies
- Natural Remedies: Master Tonic Recipe by Happy Mothering
- Shoo Flu Tonic by Holistic Squid
- The Master Tonic – Natural Flu Antiviral by The Healthy Home Economist
- Elderberry Tincture by Love and Wild Honey
- Elderberry Syrup Recipe for Cold and Flu Prevention by Holistic Squid
- Coconut Milk Tonic Recipe by The Coconut Mama
- Cough Remedy by Green Boot Living
- Natural Cough Remedy by OhLardy!
- 10 Must Have Ingredients to Help Kids Cough by Growing Up Herbal
- How To Decipher a Cough by Growing Up Herbal
- Natural Treatment for Whooping Cough by Holistic Squid
- Homemade Cough Drops by Nourishing Joy
- Honey and Lemon Cough Syrup with Coconut Oil by The Coconut Mama
- 7 Ways to Calm a Cough Naturally by Kids Love Acupuncture
- Homemade Cough Syrup by Nourishing Joy
- Homemade Garlic Salve for Coughs & Colds by The Elliott Homestead
- SSKI: The Best Cough Expectorant You’ve Never Tried by The Healthy Home Economist
- 4 Ways to Treat Croup at Home by Our Nourishing Roots
- Six Natural Ways to Treat Croupy Cough by Kids Love Acupuncture
- Honey and Lemon Cough Syrup with Coconut Oil by The Coconut Mama