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Cold and flu season is upon us and everywhere we turn, we are being sold thing like flu shots and antibacterial / antiviral cleaning supplies, all of which can have harmful effects on our overall health. There are also countless pharmaceutical remedies, containing a variety of chemicals that often harm our health even further or create harmful drug reactions and overdoses.
There are may ways to stay well this winter that don’t include toxic chemicals and harmful preservatives. My number 1 tip for staying well:
Start building your immune system now!
In order to do that, you need to focus on:
- Nutrient-dense whole foods (good fats, lots of veggies, fermented foods, grass-fed meats and organ meats, bone broth, etc.)
- Lots of sleep
- Stress reduction and management
- Herbal support
All of these play a critical role in our overall health and they are things that we can do every day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with just one and then build on it day by day, week by week. Your immune system will grow stronger and you will find that you are sick far less often.
In addition to the tips above, there are a number of other things we can do to stay well during cold and flu season.
You may remember a few months ago, I polled my readers and asked for their suggestions on staying well this winter. The response was overwhelming and I wanted to share some suggestions with you today. I love that Delicious Obsessions has turned into such a helpful community of people that I am sharing actual quotes from readers on their favorite home remedies.
This list is FAR from comprehensive. In an effort to keep it from turning into a 60 page blog post, I had to stop somewhere, but I sure hope you find this info useful. I’ll do a follow up post to this one in a few days, so stay tuned!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Since this is a post that is making health claims regarding fighting off the cold and flu, I cannot mention any specific brands or products. Doing so makes the FDA and FTC mad, which we definitely don’t want. I encourage you to do your own research and ALWAYS discuss any changes to you diet, exercise routine, supplementation, etc. with your licensed healthcare practitioner.
Readers’ Choice Home Remedies
OK, now on to the fun stuff! I am listing the item that was suggested and including a quote from a reader on how they use that specific item.
Herbs and Spices
“Turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory. When we reduce inflammation in our body, our immune system just works better. I add it to my daily diet via smoothies, soups, stews, and more. You can purchase capsules, but I prefer the herb in whole form, as all constituents are beneficial to our health, not just one or two isolated parts of the herb.”
Read more about the health benefits of turmeric here.
“Elderberry syrup is very expensive to buy but it’s very easy to make and it tastes really good. Kids love it! You can take some every day for prevention. The elderberry has antiviral action and provides relief during an illness as well.”
“The elderberries are just ripening here so after some foraging I will be making them into a syrup with cinnamon & star anise. Bottled they will keep through the winter months and will be added to a mug of hot water to help fend off unwanted coughs & cold. The rose hips will get the same treatment after the first frost, full of vitamin C & compounds to ease aching arthritic joints in the cold.”
Read more on elderberries here.
Get a recipe for Elderberry Rosehip Tonic here.
“If you do get sick, sip ginger tea made with freshly grated ginger to taste steeped in hot water. You can add lemon and/or honey to taste – both beneficial during an illness.”
“My go-to drink when I’m sick is: 1 tsp fresh grated ginger, zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 tsp turmeric, and 1 tsp cinnamon or 1/4 cinnamon stick. Infuse in hot green tea for 5 mins. Add 1-2 tsp raw honey.”
“If I feel achy like I am coming down with something, I often take a ginger bath (3 tablespoons ground ginger in a very hot and deep tub) to help pull toxins from my body. This causes intense sweating which helps pull toxins. To keep hydrated I drink coconut water to help replace any electrolytes and minerals lost during sweating.”
“Mix equal parts pure organic cinnamon with pure unheated, untreated organic honey. Eat one large teaspoon of this mix 3 times per day.”
“My favorite is raw garlic, chopped and mixed with raw, unprocessed honey. Super easy to make. Just eat by the spoonful a few times a day. Both ingredients have awesome bug-fighting properties!”
“One clove of garlic, raw, chopped up, swallowed with water, without chewing. Before a meal. No bad breath. Old Slavic recipe for immunity and longevity.”
“A large clove of garlic, finely chopped, on a spoon with a drizzle of honey/ maple syrup. Pop it in your mouth and chase with water. All you’ll taste for a while its garlic, but it stops most cold bugs in their tracks. Repeat daily/ twice daily as required.”
Read more about the health benefits garlic here and here.
Get a recipe for lactofermented garlic here.
“For colds and flu, I combine Vitamin C (1000 to 2000mg) and echinacea (most concentrated form you can find) 3 times a day.”
“Echinacea, Goldenseal, and Dandelion root for boosting my immune system.”
“For any lung problems I use an onion poultice for congestion and infection in lungs, along with a protocol or Lobelia and Mullein to help heal lungs.”
“I use everything from peppermint (helps with nose stuffiness) to chamomile (upset tummies). There are so many herbal teas available today.”
“Linden tea is great for congestion.”
“Coconut oil has long been regarded for it’s anti-viral and immune boosting properties. The lauric acid in coconut oil is what really makes this oil unique. It helps support the immune system and coconut oil is nature’s richest source, next to human breast milk.”
“I do oil pulling with coconut oil daily to keep the bugs away. It keeps germs from entering your system through your mouth and nose. I was a skeptic when I first started, but am now fully enjoying the multiple health benefits including staying well. I have two sons and a husband, and they have all been sick several times since I started, but I haven’t been. That NEVER used to happen. As a mother, you’re usually a sitting duck for any bug passing through your family just because you’re the main caregiver!”
Read more on coconut oil here.
Read more about oil pulling here.
“Thinly slice a whole organic lemon (with the peel on) and fresh organic ginger root. Place in jar in alternating layers and smoosh to release the juices and oils, then add raw honey to cover. Sir well to coat everything in honey, then fill the rest of the jar with the honey. Place in the back of the fridge for several weeks, the longer it sits the better it tastes. After a couple of months, the ginger and lemon rind soak up the honey (mmmmm, ‘candied’ lemon rind and ginger) and the juices and honey combine to make a heavenly nectar! One spoonful all by itself is incredibly yummy, but a spoonful in a mug of warm tea or warm water makes a delicious beverage good for colds/flu/sore throat, etc.”
“Adding raw honey to ginger and lemon tea is very soothing for sore throats. I sometimes just take a small spoonful to help soothe the itchiness.”
“Raw honey is great for colds — add it to your tea, mix it with cinnamon and other herbs, or even eat a little plain.”
Read more about raw honey here.
Sea Salt Gargle
“Use sea salt and warm water and gargle regularly to help soothe sore throats.”
“During the flu season and throughout the year I make weekly batches of beef bone soup. I use 5-6 organic onions, one bulb of garlic, basil, oregano, Himalayan salt. I boil the beef bones for 4-5 hours. Then I pull the bones out and take off any meat to eat on the side. Then I use my stick mixer to puree the soup. Its amazing.”
Read more about bone broth (and get recipes) here.
“I make ‘fire cider’ aka ‘master tonic’ ever year. I strain the juices off after a month of sitting and then also jar up the remaining solids and both live in the back of the fridge. I recently used this to dose the husband with a nasty summer cold and he was better within 24 hrs.”
Read more about the Master Tonic (aka. Fire Cider) here.
“My favorite go to for any illness is kefir. Full of vitamins amino acids and probiotics. I find the probiotics really boost the immune system and help ease stomach issues.”
“I swear by kefir that has the different lactobacillus in it with the most important one being L. rhamnosis, which is responsible for that part of your immune system that fights colds.”
Read more about milk kefir here.
Read more about water kefir here.
Vitamins / Supplements
“When cold season comes around, I tend to eat more citrus fruits for their high Vitamin C content.”
Read more about vitamin C (and why you should use liposomal C) here.
“I find the very best way to hit the cold or flu is a whole lot of liquid VIT D3 (homeopathic), so 8 drops per day. It works for everyone I know who does it.”
“Beginning the first of November I begin to take 5000 mg of Vitamin D3 daily to keep my numbers up and to keep my immune system up. I take this amount from November through end of February. I live in central Ohio where it can be very dark in the winter. On those frosty cold days when the sun is shining brightly, I will take off my coat in the car and expose as much of my skin to the direct sunlight as possible while I am driving. This helps to boost my vitamin D3 levels naturally.”
“I take high doses (8+grams/day) of MSM (methylsufonylmethane, a sulfur supplement) and regularly supplement with magnesium citrate and epsom salts. Doing just that has almost eliminated all allergic and cold/flu ‘attacks’ for the past several years!”
“We use colloidal silver. We take it internally, transdermally, and we spray it throughout the apartment to kill the bacteria on the surface. We put it in a small brown spray bottle and take it where ever we go.”
“I’ve snuffed colloidal silver up my nose for sinus troubles, along with a nasal spray made from natural sea salt and warm water placed in a spray bottle for using with the nose.”
“Eating probiotic rich foods is a great way to boost the immune system. They’re easy to make at home, but even some stores are starting to carry some fermented foods. Sauerkraut juice is great and full of good bacteria (as long as it’s not pasteurized).”
“If you can’t eat fermented foods, take a variety of probiotic supplements. I try to mix them up so that I am not taking the exact same thing every day. I like to rotate between 3-4 different kinds at one time.”
Find lots of recipes for probiotic foods here.
“Tea tree and peppermint oil in a diffuser for illness that makes its way into our home. Kill it in the air.”
“For sinus pain, I have a sock filled with rice that I heat up. I then put a few drops of either lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus oil and place over sinuses. Don’t forget there are also sinuses at the base of your neck.”
“I have used Oil Of Oregano for years to stave off colds/flus and help diminish the symptoms when a cold is contracted. When I feel that very first indicator of a possible cold coming on (stiff neck, sore, etc), the VERY first symptoms, I place two drops of GOOD quality Oregano Oil on my tongue. It tastes nasty, but I rarely get the cold so long as I hit it immediately on first symptoms – so I carry the little bottle in my vehicle with me.”
- Read more about Peppermint Essential Oil here.
- Read more about Lemon Essential Oil here.
- Read more about Lavender Essential Oil here.
- Read more about Tea Tree Essential Oil here.
For more information about the essential oils I use for myself and my family, click here.
Staying Well With Lots of Exposure
When you’re out in public, or if you have to work in an office or area where you are going to be around more people, and therefore more germs, here are some reader suggestions:
1. When in public (at work, grocery store, etc) do not touch your face – anywhere. That’s one way the germs get into your system. Say you go to the ATM machine and push the buttons to get cash – you have to assume you’re exposed. Or pumping your own gas. Anywhere that you touch where other people have touched, you’re potentially exposed. When you get home, wash your hands really well with liquid soap and lots of friction.
5. Get outdoors. If you’re feeling under the weather, getting outside and soaking up some sun and fresh air can instantly make you feel better. One reader said, “Good old fresh air when I’m sick. I find going outside, working outside when I’m sick helps me get over it faster even opening my window if I’m sick in bed helps as well. My grandma did it with her children so my dad is a strong believer in fresh air and sweating the cold out!”
So, tell me! What are your favorite home remedies? Leave a comment below and let’s help everyone stay well this fall and winter!
READ PART 2 OF THIS SERIES HERE.
Cold + Flu Season — Are You Ready?
If you want even more Cold and Flu Remedies, check out my friend Carol’s eBook. You can read my review here. You can learn more and download your copy here (affiliate link).
One I got from my mother’s naturopath a few years ago was selenium. When you feel sick, she advises 1000mg doses. I can’t remember how many doses during the day, but even if I do a few days of one dose a day, it helps!
Great tip Soli! Selenium is so often overlooked! I’ll have to remember that this winter! 🙂
If I feel like I’m getting sick I crush a med fresh organic garlic clove with a 1″ piece of grated ginger with 1/2 fresh lemon juice and about 1 tbsp of honey and gulp it down; then I drink Echinacea tea that has elderberry in it also. This usually nips whatever I’m getting in the bud pretty quickly.
Edie – Great tips! The garlic works well for me, as does echinacea. Stay well this winter! 🙂
Great post Jess, i remember when you asked us for suggestions, great to see my tea tonic made it in, thankyou. It really does work and it is somewhat comforting too.
The other thing i suggest people do in winter, sick or not, is to spend some time in the sunshine. It can stop the winter blues and vitamin D is a very important vitamin that is not prevalent in food. Make sure yyour in the sun for 20 mins and have atleast 60% of your skin showing in order to soak up the rays properly. I don’t know how you’ll go with doing that in the very cold American winters but here in Australia it’s a daily ritual for me, there is nothing better than feeling the sun on your skin.
Hi Jes – Yes, thanks for sharing! Sunlight is always great, regardless of the year. Stay well this winter!
Very good tips! I also mix in 2 Tbsp honey 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 1 Tbsp turmeric with a little black pepper and take it through the day when I feel a cold starting – it works well for us!
Great tip Dina-Marie! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂