You know that feeling when you’re sick and you want your mom, but then you remember that you ARE THE MOM? Same here. Every year I brew up a batch of fire cider and elderberry syrup for immune support at the beginning of cold and flu season, and for the most part we dodge whatever’s going around.
Not always, though. Sometimes I slack when it comes to making sure we take the elderberry syrup and fire cider and someone comes down with a cold. When that happens, I head to our kitchen apothecary and mix up one of these tried-and-true remedies. If you’re looking for ways to support recovery naturally, here are some easy recipes to use next time something’s going around!
14 Natural Remedies For Cold And Flu Season
The cold and flu remedies below are supported by research and incorporate common kitchen ingredients you probably already have on hand, including healing herbs, spices, and honey.
Tea is incredibly soothing when you’re recovering from a cold or flu – the warmth promotes relaxation while the herbs and spices support immune function and ease discomfort. Here are some recipes using ingredients you probably already have on hand.
Lemon Ginger Tea Recipe
Ginger has been used for thousands of years to soothe tummy aches, nausea and indigestion. And according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it has also history of use for soothing “flu-like symptoms, headaches, and painful menstrual periods.” (UMMC) Lemons are also helpful because they’re rich in vitamin C, which supports immune function.
I love this lemon ginger tea with a twist, but the simple recipe below is also amazing for easing nausea and other cold and flu discomforts while supporting immune function.
- 1 cup boiling water
- 2-3 slices fresh ginger
- 1-2 lemon wedges
- raw honey to taste
Pour boiling water over the ginger and allow to steep for ten minutes, then strain and add in a squeeze of lemon. I also add in the lemon peel if it is organic. Sweeten the tea with honey before sipping on it.
Rosemary Or Thyme Tea Recipe
“Rosemary is highly antiviral and antibacterial,” says Clinical Herbalist Steve Sietos. “Everything you smell in that signature aroma is medicine.” According to Clinical Herbalist Arielle Hayat, the same is true of thyme. (Kessler)
- 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or thyme, de-stemmed
- 1 cup boiling water
- raw honey to taste
Pour boiling water over the rosemary/thyme and allow to steep for ten minutes, then strain and sweeten with honey before sipping on it.
If you don’t already have this herb in your pantry, you may want to consider stocking up. In this study, researchers found that flu patients who received elderberry syrup recovered about four days sooner than those who received a placebo.
In another study that had similar results, it was concluded that there were two reasons for the more rapid recovery. First, patients taking elderberry had higher anti-haemagglutination titers, meaning their immune system was functioning optimally. Second, they found that elderberry supports the body’s natural ability to inhibit neuraminidase, an enzyme that the virus uses to infect cells. (Kelly)
What you’ll need:
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 2-3 teaspoons dried elderberry
- Optional additions: 1 cinnamon stick or a few slices of fresh ginger
Golden Milk (Turmeric Tea)
Herbal Syrups And Honey
Kids love herbal honeys and syrups, making them one of the easiest remedies to get them to take. Here are a few of our favorites:
Homemade Cough Syrup
According to a study published in the medical journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, honey works better dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in store-bought cough syrup. The study also said children who took this “medicine” got more sleep than those who took OTC meds, and so did their parents. (Paul et. al.)
What you’ll need:
- 3/4 cup organic buckwheat honey, raw honey, or local honey
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2-4 tablespoons organic lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar
Cinnamon And Raw Honey
Cinnamon has long been used in traditional medicine to support cold and flu recovery. According to Fundamentals of Microbiology, there is evidence to support its traditional use as an antimicrobial herb. Also, as mentioned above, honey has been shown to ease coughing, which can be very helpful if a cough is keeping you from getting much-needed sleep.
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Serve on a spoon or stirred into warm water.
As mentioned above, ginger has a history of use for “flu-like symptoms, headaches, and painful menstrual periods.” (UMMC)
I like to keep this ginger syrup on hand during the cold winter months along with other syrups, tinctures and teas that support the immune system. Suggestions for delicious ways to use it are in the post!
Elderberries are revered for their ability to support the immune system during cold and flu season, but they have other benefits, too! They contain flavonoids and anthocyanins, which:
* Help the body absorb vitamin C, which assists with collagen synthesis, immune response, etc.
* Support a balanced inflammatory response
* Encourage healthy respiratory function
Also, according to a study in Norway, patients given elderberry syrup felt better four days sooner than those who received a placebo.
Other Kitchen Remedies
The ingredients below make excellent additions to the recipes above.
According to Fundamentals of Microbiology, “Many research studies have identified a sulfur compound called allicin as one key to garlic’s antiseptic properties. When a raw garlic clove is crushed or chewed, allicin gives garlic its characteristic taste and smell. Laboratory studies using garlic suggest that this compound is responsible for combating the microbes causing the common cold, flu, sore throat, sinusitis, and bronchitis. The findings indicate that the compound blocks key enzymes that bacteria and viruses need to invade and damage host cells.” (emphasis mine)
To Use: Dice it and let it sit for 15 minutes as the therapeutic compound – allicin – activates. Swallow it on it’s own or mixed with raw honey or cough syrup.
This spice is rich in a compound called capsaicin which helps with flu/cold aches and pains by depleting the neurotransmitter “substance P,” which relays pain signals to the brain. (Tirado-Lee) It also dial up the body’s production of two anti-inflammatory agents – collagenase and prostaglandin – and has been found to reduce coughing, (Matucci-Cerinic et. al., Ternesten-Hasseus et. al.)
Add a dash to hot tea to ease discomfort, or mix it with honey (to help with coughing) and Vitamin C rich lemon juice to taste.
Other Remedies That May Help
- Bone broth and homemade chicken soup
- Nasopure bottle – It’s basically a neti pot that’s easier for kids to use. During cold and flu season it assists the body with moving out mucus that has captured bacteria, dust, etc.
- Fire Cider – I love my fire cider recipe, but if you’re already feeling bad you probably don’t want to wait 2-4 weeks for it to be ready. Fortunately, you can buy pre-made Fire Tonic on Amazon and get it with in 1 or 2 days if you have Amazon Prime or choose expedited shipping.
- Salt Sock For Earaches
You can also find several more ideas for supporting cold and flu recovery in this post.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Do you have a favorite tried-and-true cold and flu remedy? Please share it below!