It happens every year. Flu season hits and the masses panic. It is during this time of year that the trillion-dollar pharmaceutical industry makes its big money. You’ve got the flu shot, Tamiflu, antibiotics, and over the counter medications for every symptom known to man. Runny nose, coughing, sneezing, itching, watery eyes, restless sleep, and upset stomach — it doesn’t matter what it is, you’re going to find a medication that probably doesn’t work to address it.
Sure, there are those emergency situations where a medication or medical intervention might be needed, but for the vast majority, medications are merely a way of suppressing the body’s own natural healing defenses — suppressing one symptom while replacing it with another.
Might I suggest a few alternatives? Here is a great list of natural remedies you can take when you’re hit with a cold or flu.
The Difference Between a Cold and Flu
First, you need to know what you’re dealing with. A cold usually comes on a few days after being exposed to a virus and causes symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, cough, congestion, body aches, and a low-grade fever.
According to the CDC, the flu is pretty much a death sentence, so we’re going to use Mayo’s definition. The flu is caused by a virus that attacks your respiratory system (nose, throat, and lungs). It is different from a cold in that it often comes on suddenly and accompanies symptoms like a fever over 100.4 F, chills, sweats, body aches, headaches, coughing, congestion, fatigue and a sore throat. Then you have bacterial infections and stomach bugs that can cause some of the symptoms above, plus upset stomach, vomiting, low appetite, or diarrhea.
Even though the viruses that cause both colds and flu are constantly changing (which is why the flu shot is nothing short of ineffective), the natural remedies you would take for them really don’t. You can take the same thing to boost the immune system and help the body fight its own infection no matter what year it is and which specific strain you’re dealing with.
Natural Remedies You Can Take for a Cold or Flu
1. Earthley’s Feel Better Fast
This is one of my new favorite natural remedies. “Feel Better Fast” contains echinacea, elder flower, cinnamon, astragalus, and fennel seed.
These ingredients are known for boosting the immune system and not only target the toughest symptoms, but help address the underlying causes that made you susceptible to the cold or flu in the first place. This is different from an over the counter medication because it’s not going to hide symptoms or suppress a fever (more on this later), it’s designed to support the body so you can gain back your health and get back to life as quickly as possible.
According to Kate (the mama behind this awesome company), “Feel Better Fast” can be used by ages 6 months and up and for pregnant women also.
2. Elderberry Herbal Extract
Everybody knows that elderberry is one of the most potent natural remedies for the cold or flu and can also be taken for prevention during the winter months. My favorite way to take elderberry is as an herbal extract (with mullein, ginger, cloves, and astragalus) but if you’re not DIY challenged like I am, you can make elderberry syrup from scratch, gummy lozenges, or you can order a kit that has everything you need to make it yourself.
3. Colloidal Silver
If you suspect you’re dealing with something bacterial, colloidal silver is the go-to. Colloidal silver is a well-known antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral that could be a viable alternative to commonly prescribed antibiotics (but with far fewer side effects).
4. Coughs, Sinuses, and Respiratory Infections
Coughs and sinus drainage can be annoying, but what most people are trying to suppress is the body’s natural way of ridding itself of foreign particles, pathogens, irritants, microbes, mucus, and bacteria.
Instead of suppressing these natural defenses, prolonging your cold, and allowing these things to sit in the lungs, throat, and sinuses, try taking something natural to support the body and speed the process of removing this garbage along.
- Sinus Saver – This herbal remedy contains organic nettle leaf, wild-crafted elderberries, organic turmeric root, organic black pepper, and organic dandelion root that are known to support the immune system, ease symptoms, and address your most annoying sinus issues.
- Cough B Gone – This remedy focuses on lung health and contains mullein, fenugreek seeds, and dandelion root.
- Lemon Ginger Tea – It doesn’t have to be complicated. Use a grater to add 1 teaspoon of (coarse or fine) ginger to a mug. Add the juice of half a lemon and 1 cup of hot water. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Add a dash of cinnamon or cayenne and drink 2-3x daily as needed. You can also add a 1/2 teaspoon of raw honey for additional benefits.
- Peppermint Essential Oil – Use diluted or in a coconut oil salve to soothe sinuses and open up airways.
- Cold Dx – This clinically tested supplement has been shown to clear the lungs, support inflammatory processes, and help the immune system.
5. Natural Pain Relievers
One of the most common complaints with any type of cold or flu is pain. Instead of taking Tylenol or something over-the-counter, try an herbal remedy like “Pain Potion,” an epsom salt bath, magnesium, or in the case of a headache — a diluted essential oil applied to the base of your brain stem, neck, and upper sinus area.
6. Activated Charcoal for Stomach Bugs
People are always asking me what they can do for the “stomach flu.” My answer is the same every time … activated charcoal. I keep a bag on hand in my pantry and it’s my go-to for any stomach related or sudden onset digestive issue.
For ages 2 and up, Oscillococcinum is a super popular homeopathic remedy taken at the first onset of your flu-like symptoms. It has been clinically shown to help reduce the duration and severity of fatigue, headaches, body aches, chills, and fever.
9. Immune Boosters
There are a few things you can take to boost your immune system both before or during your worst cold or flu. A few of my favorites include, Raw Manuka Honey, elderberry, vitamin C, and Immune-biotic.
Despite what you may have heard, a fever isn’t something “bad” that needs to be suppressed. It’s actually the body’s natural mechanism for killing viruses by raising the internal temperature to create a hostile environment. A medication may lower the fever temporarily, but it will spike back up and the cold/flu will linger a whole lot longer than it needs to.
In the natural community, we leave a good fever in the safe range alone. If you do need to lower a fever you feel is getting too high, try a lukewarm bath with 2-3 drops of essential oil. (I use peppermint or lavender.)
Whether you’re dealing with a cold or flu, you are officially armed with the natural remedies you need to fight whatever hits you or your family this “flu season.”