Feeling under the weather? When the temperatures drop, we tend to spend more time indoors, get less sunshine and fresh air, and consume more indulgent, comfort foods (such as sweets during the holidays). This combination leads to a higher exposure to airborne organisms and decreased immunity, which means you're more likely to catch a cold or flu. This is the reason for "flu season." It's really not a season - it's just a result of everything listed above.
But don’t be too quick to jump to over-the-counter solutions or run to the doctor unless it’s absolutely necessary. Nature is chock full of remedies that can help you boost your immunity and alleviate symptoms of sickness far better than any flu shot...but that is a topic for another day.
Here are 5 natural foods and remedies that will help you get through cold and flu season:
Garlic Raw garlic is an everyday superfood that should be included in daily meals to keep your immune system strong. It’s an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal powerhouse! In fact, one study found that consuming a garlic supplement every day reduced the number of colds by 63%, and even those who did get a cold had it last just an average of 1.5 days. Garlic is also full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for overall health. Chop it up and sprinkle it on something every day, whether you’re sick or not!
Apple Cider Vinegar, Lemon, Honey, Ginger, and Water This remedy is great for coughs or sore throats and should be consumed like a tea. Boil some hot water, add a capful of apple cider vinegar, a squeeze of fresh lemon, ½ a teaspoon of raw honey, and some sliced fresh ginger. The combination of acidity, B-vitamins, Vitamin C, and the general cocktail of immunity-boosting compounds will soothe irritation and help your body begin to recover. The warmth and mild sweetness will also soothe your soul and help you rest while keeping you hydrated.
Oil of oregano This is most effective if taken right after exposure or at the first sign of a cold. It can also help to relieve sinus congestion when combined with steaming hot water and inhaled deeply. Oil of oregano is available at many health food stores and is a powerful anti-microbial that can stop viruses and bacteria from proliferating.
Coconut oil and peppermint/eucalyptus essential oil This makes a great chest rub if your lungs are feeling sore and your sinuses aren’t clear. Combine a dollop of coconut oil with a few drops of peppermint and/or eucalyptus oil and rub it on your chest or back before going to sleep. The soothing massage will relieve some of the physical discomfort while the essential oils can help clear your breathing passages as you inhale the oils while sleeping. Elderberry syrup
This natural remedy definitely goes way back to Ancient Egypt, which is why it’s no wonder it’s known as one of the top antiviral herbs on the planet. One of the most well-studied elderberry syrup benefits is its powerful immune-boosting properties. Several studies have found benefits to support the use of elderberry syrup for flu symptoms. Studies have shown that when the extract is used within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, it can shorten the duration of flu symptoms by an average of four days. Given the option between a flu shot and Tamiflu OR elderberry syrup, I choose the elderberry every single time.
Additional ways to reduce the severity and duration of colds:
Use a humidifier in your bedroom Blow your nose regularly to eliminate germs quickly Stay hydrated Just rest, don’t try to multitask Reduce or eliminate sugar – it lowers your immunity Eat nutrient-dense foods like eggs, kale, or beans
What’s your go-to natural cold remedy? Share in the comments below!