14 Practical, Natural Remedies to Have on Hand BEFORE Cold & Flu Strikes
Living a natural, more pure life is really just about creating new habits.
I’ve come to really love natural choices for everything from cooking to managing the daily mishaps of life because these things act in harmony with my body. Man-made chemicals in our food, on our clothing and in products we are putting on our bodies or in our homes are foreign to our body’s chemistry. I haven’t bought over -the-counter drugs for years, partly because I haven’t had to, but also because I’m a bit fearful of them. 99.9% of them are labeled with side effects, some of them seemingly worse than the original symptoms you might be dealing with. I have had so many successes with natural options that I always keep them on hand. Not only do they support our bodies in a more gentle way, they soothe your senses.
Our minds have a powerful influence over our disposition, and health. You may have some of your own natural elements in your wellness cabinet. Since we all have different body types and chemical make-ups some things work better for others. I encourage you to listen to your body. Over the counter drugs train us to just block out symptoms for a while. While there is a place for modern medicine, Americans are relying more on drugs to mask their symptoms rather than allowing their bodies to deal with everyday issues in a natural way. Superbugs are the result of overuse of anti-biotics and our bodies are weaker than ever.
Natural remedies help you learn more about your body and experience what works in different situations. Some of these have been around for a long time, they’ve stood the test of time. And they are much more pleasant to use than standing at the drug store trying to navigate through a sea of chemicals when you’d rather be in bed resting. Add some of these to your “medicine” cabinet, or more appropriately your kitchen cabinet for some, so you are prepared when colds and flu strike, or you just need a little TLC.
1. Lemon essential oil Research has found that lemon essential oil can increase white blood cell count helping your body fight viruses and infections. We put a drop of FOOD GRADE lemon essential oil from Young Living in a spoonful of Agave Nectar and swallow. The lemon essential oil soothes a scratchy, sore throat. For a big boost to your immune system, add a drop of Thieves essential oil to the agave nectar with the lemon oil and swallow. Try not to wash it down with water, it’s good to keep your throat coated with the oils if you have a sore throat. Young Living’s food grade lemon essential oil gives plain water a lift and boosts your immune system in the process. Add 1 drop of lemon essential oil to your GLASS or stainless steel water bottle, don’t use plastic or the lemon oil will break down the chemicals from the plastic where it will mix in with your water.
2. Garlic is naturally anti-microbial. Add garlic to soups, entrees, or just swallow half a clove whole. For some in our family, this will knock any bug out of their system fast. This is not recommended for anyone with a sensitive digestive system like me. I personally don’t do the whole garlic, I get good results from more gentle measures like adding it to my food right before it’s served. It’s always easier to start off gentle, and move towards more powerful options like whole, or crushed raw garlic if you need to. If you want to try taking crushed garlic, mix it in a spoonful of spaghetti sauce or sour cream rather than straight garlic or it might irritate your throat going down.
3. Oscillo This is my favorite homeopathic remedy for flu. The flavorless little pills just dissolve on your tongue. There are no side effects like over the counter cold remedies and if your body doesn’t need it there is no harm in using it. I like this option as a first try for flu, just make sure you don’t use a strong essential oil or drink coffee after taking it (homeopathic remedies are useless when they come in contact with coffee – regular or decaf , it’s not the caffeine – or strong aromas like mint and eucalyptus, so don’t brush your teeth with mint toothpaste right after dissolving them on your tongue.
4. Magnesium Salts are soothing in a warm bath when you start to get aches and pains from flu symptoms. I use Magnesium Salts from Ancient Minerals, a less processed mineral salt than Epsom salts that you get from the grocery store (manufactured). Magnesium is an important mineral, it acts as a catalyst to many enzymes, especially those that regulate our body’s energy production. Deficiencies in magnesium can cause irritability, nervousness and insomnia. Throw a large handful (1-2 cups) into a hot bath and soak for at least 30 minutes. Add a couple of drops of lavender essential oil to enhance the effects. When you get out, wrap up and go to bed immediately. This bath soak will most often bring on a deep sleep, you may sweat some since the bath, the salts and the lavender are gently detoxifying your body. When you are sick and can’t fall asleep, a magnesium salt bath with lavender can do wonders for lulling you into some quality rest.
5. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is rich in enzymes, it gently detoxifies the body and supports your immune system. You can take it internally to support your body from a systemic approach or apply it to your skin to soothe irritations. Adding a teaspoon to a cupful of warm water makes a soothing face rinse, especially for acne prone skin. Apple Cider Vinegar is naturally antimicrobial so it helps your body fight the bugs that cause colds and flu. ACV also clears toxins from your lymph glands and liver, and helps clear excess mucous from your body. Your immune system will run more efficiently so it can do it’s job. We’ve found the easiest way to drink it is in a warm cup of apple juice or cider. Natural apple cider vinegar (we use Braggs) is unfiltered. The cloudy substance at the bottom of the bottle is considered the “mother” of the vinegar and packed with the most nutrients. This is not the processed apple cider vinegar you find in large plastic jugs at the grocery store.
6. Castor Oil – I’ve used castor oil in an Ayervedic cleanse under the guidance of a doctor. It’s a natural laxative and detoxifier, but I would not recommend using it without directions from your holistic doctor. We’ve also used it as a poultice on the chest for coughs. If you use castor oil, choose one from a reputable health food store. Castor oil is used for many industrial processes, I was reminded of this the first time I bought castor oil. I went to the local drug store and saw the bottles which looked like engine oil. This did not look like something I would want to put on my body! To make a natural poultice of castor oil, soak a piece of flannel cloth with the oil and place on bare skin. Cover with another washcloth or towel and top it with a hot water bottle or warm rice pack.
7. Celtic Sea Salt is harvested from the ocean and gently dried. Table salt is highly processed and has all the vital nutrients removed, it’s no different than white table sugar. Since celtic sea salt is full of rich minerals, it feeds your body. We add a handful to a hot bath for a detoxifying soak. Sit in the tub for at least 30 minutes, then go to bed right away and rest. This allows your body to fight colds, flu and infections. Gargle with warm salt water to fight infection and reduce inflammation in your throat. Salt is naturally anti-bacterial without chemicals!
8. Agave Nectar has a more neutral flavor than honey. It acts as a great carrier for lemon essential oil, together they make our natural cough syrup.
9. Honey – I have a large bucket of local, raw honey on hand. I like to make my own natural tea with the rind of an organic lemon or orange, hot water and a spoonful of raw honey – Magic! Honey soothes the body and the senses.
10. Whole organic chicken Keep a whole organic chicken in your freezer along with Mirepoix (carrots, onions, celery), a magic combination of simple vegetables loaded with potential for soothing the body when you combine them in a simple broth or with your chicken for homemade chicken soup. Simmer your whole chicken in a pot of water for 4-8 hours until the meat falls off the bones. Strain off everything (you can pick off the meat and add to the broth if you’d like) and add your vegetables and simmer until they are tender. Sipping the broth will help thin out mucous, hydrate your body and soothe your soul. Even easier is to combine everything at once including a couple cloves of garlic (I like to add fresh ginger too) and simmer the same amount. Pour all through a colander for a simple broth to sip throughout the day.
11. Vitamin C (orange photo) Interferons are natural proteins the body produces to attack viruses. Vitamin C promotes interferon production. (Best sources are fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh kiwi, cantaloupe and fresh lemon juice) We do keep some vitamin C drops on hand for the kids to take to school if they feel they are coming down with something. If you do fresh sources, drink them or eat them soon after peeling or squeezing since the vitamin C diminishes quickly after exposure to the air.
12. Eucalyptus essential oil, therapeutic grade (R.C) – this was one of my first Young Living essential oils and still a favorite today. It has 4 different kinds of eucalyptus in it that open up your airways quick. It is too strong for babies, though. This is like a natural “Vicks” (only without toxic camphor and petroleum). 1 drop goes a long way. We apply it to the soles of the feet at the first sign of a cold, a drop on the chest or diffuse it in the air at bedtime.
13. Red Clover In case you haven’t noticed yet, I like things whole. Whole foods, whole herbs, pure essential oils. It’s not a surprise, though, I’ve always been that way. As a kid I wouldn’t eat food unless I could identify it. I haven’t changed, only now I apply the same to what we use on our bodies. That’s why I like whole red clover buds. Red clover helps your body fight infection, it purifies your blood and strengthens your immune system. It can act like an expectorant and helps you relax. I get relaxed just making up a cup of red clover tea, with WHOLE red clover flowers. They’re beautiful aren’t they? Red clover tea is what I make when my kids get sore, swollen lymph glands. I strain out the plant material after it’s steeped a few minutes, pour over a dry washcloth and wrap around their neck. Cover it with a dry hand towel and clasp in the back of their neck with a rubberband or hair tie. Not exactly rocket science, but the kids are soothed by it and it usually follows with a really good nap. I may add a drop of honey or agave nectar to a small cup and have them take it a spoonful at a time.
14. Astragalus is another herb like red clover that is often found in other “natural” remedies or capsules. I like to use the whole astragalus, which is actually a root. This is the only thing on my list I don’t have right now, my local health food stores stopped carrying it but they will order it for me from Frontier Herbs in bulk form. I have a fantastic soup recipe my friend Sheanna gave me almost 15 years ago that uses the whole herb, you add it to your stock and let it simmer. The Astragalus steeps into the broth, giving you a gentle, nourishing boost for your immune system. Here’s her recipe:
Immune Soup Recipe:
- 1 large onion
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 T olive oil
- 4-5 Astragalus sticks (look like tongue depressors)
- 2 parsnips
- 1 C each celery and green beans, chopped
- 2 C carrots, chopped
- 2 large potatoes, chopped
- optional: 4 dried or 2 fresh shitake mushrooms
- flavoring herbs to taste (basil, tarragon, parsley, oregano)
Saute onion & garlic in oil. Add 8 C pure water and bring to a boil. Add vegetables and simmer, covered 1 hour. Add herbs last 10 minutes. Strain out Astragalus & serve.
I’d much rather take care of my family with whole foods, herbs and oils. These 14 ingredients are always in our home, especially in cold and flu season so we are prepared to nurture anyone who is feeling a little under the weather. We spend less time at the doctor’s office where more bugs are lingering and more time resting so we can recover quicker. What is in your natural “wellness” cabinet?
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. If you are sick, seek attention from a medical doctor.