My Favorite Cold and Flu Remedies

January 16, 2013

People here in NYC are downright panicking over the flu. Many states, including New York, have declared a public health emergency and hospitals are overflowing with sick people. On her Facebook page, Dr. Christiane Northrup had this to say:

“Well, the media (and big Pharma) are at it again–Whipping everyone into a frenzy about the flu. Before you follow the herd and get a flu shot, read this. And then if you still want to get the shot because it gives you peace of mind, then go get it. But remember–a healthy immune system with optimal Vitamin D levels is far more effective than any shot!”

I agree with Dr. Northrup–keeping our immune system healthy is the key. Our bodies are designed to combat these viruses on their own. So, if you’re one of the lucky ones yet to get sick, here are some simple suggestions to stay that way.

These are my favorite cold and flu remedies

  • Sleep is vital. Especially during this time of year, 8-10 hours is optimal.
  • Exercise is beneficial, but don’t overdo it–Ayurveda teaches that we should only exercise to 50% capacity (and that’s when we’re healthy). Read my post about how All Exercise is Not Created Equal.
  • Eat a clean diet, with lots of fresh, local and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Be especially aware of your sugar consumption because sugar is known to suppress the immune system (this includes alcohol). I plan to go easy on the dark chocolate sea salt caramels…
  • Drink a glass of warm water with 1/2 organic lemon (squeezed) every morning upon arising. Add raw honey, if desired. This simple little tip is a winner.
  • If you live in a cold climate, stay bundled up (especially around the neck and mid-section–two areas of the body that according to Ayurveda and TCM are very vulnerable.
  • Supplement with Vitamin D3 if you are not in a hot climate where the sun is strong. Here’s a great source of information.
  • Sip hot water regularly throughout the day. Sounds ridiculously simple and it is! It helps to quickly move toxins out the body.
  • Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry) is an Ayurvedic herb that is a wonderful source of natural Vitamin C and also one of the ingredients of Triphala. Personally, I like to get my Vitamin C from this delicious nutritive tonic called Chyavangrans.

These are important at the very first sign of a virus

Usually, when I feel a tingle in the ear canal, scratchy throat, stuffy nose, etc. I do the following:

  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%) in the ears is my very first method of attack. I fill a glass dropper with hydrogen peroxide, warm it under running water, tilt my head to one side and fill the ear canal. If there is something brewing there, you will hear a bubbling sound. Wait about 5 minutes, then drain the hydrogen peroxide onto a cotton ball and repeat on the other side. Do not try this if you have a ruptured eardrum! This will also help with wax buildup in the ear. There’s a lot of controversy about this on the Internet, but all I can say is that it works for me and seems to stop viruses in their tracks. I often only have to do this once, rarely twice.
  • Gargle with warm sea salt water.
  • 1-2 DROPS (not full dropper !) of Oil of Oregano 1-2 times a day. This is by far one of the most valuable remedies in my arsenal.
  • Young Living Thieves Essential Oil on the bottom of my feet (2-3 drops). This blend of essential oils is highly effective in supporting the immune system and I am never without it–whether traveling or at home. In fact, I have to admit that nowadays, the first thing I reach for on a daily basis are my essential oils.

From an Ayurvedic standpoint, colds are a Kapha-Vata disorder. Dr. Vasant Lad writes:

“The body builds up an excess of cool and moist Kapha qualities, resulting in congestion and a runny nose, and at the same time it may suffer from excess Vata, which reduces Agni (gastric fire), leading to chills, loss of appetite, and/or poor digestion.”

Normally when I follow the above regimen, I am able to stop the virus in its tracks. However, if  you are run down and your immune system is unable to fight off the illness, here are some good ways to treat full-blown symptoms. If nothing else, the duration of the cold or flu will generally be shorter.

Again, I am not a doctor. Please listen to your body.

Look out to identify if and when you need to seek professional help.

  • Continue everything above except the hydrogen peroxide. I generally only do this 1-2 times in the beginning.
  • To the warm lemon water and raw honey, add a couple of slices of fresh ginger. It’s good to simmer on the stove a bit before drinking. Ginger is an excellent cold/flu remedy.
  • Cinnamon has amazing antibiotic and antiviral properties. Mixed with raw honey, it’s a potent tool for your cold and flu toolbox. You can also add it to the warm lemon drink or make a syrup for a cough or sore throat by using lemon, honey, and cinnamon.
  • Raw garlic is another powerful food with medicinal properties. I like (well I don’t really like doing this!) to chop up a small clove, put it on the back of my tongue and wash it down.
  • A Neti pot or nasal syringe using boiled/cooled or distilled water with neti pot salt will help with a stuffy nose. Be sure to follow up with a good Nasya Oil because Neti pot use can dry the nasal passages and lead to the body overreacting and producing more mucus.
  • Breathing steam from a pot of simmering water on the stove is something my mother used to do. We would stand over it (carefully!) with a towel over our head and breathe. I like to add a couple of drops of Thieves or Oregano oil to the water. Olba’s Oil is also great for stuffy noses.
  • Keep your diet as simple as possible. Let your body concentrate on fighting the cold or flu, not having to digest a heavy meal. Chicken soup with lots of added fresh garlic really does work wonders for a cold. Even better if a friend or loved one fixes it for you!
  • SLEEP, stay home if at all possible, and let go of any rigorous exercise practices. You will only prolong your illness if you wear your body out further.
  • And my very favorite #1 tip for combatting the cold or flu is to lay on the couch and watch funny movies. Laughter produces endorphins and endorphins enhance the immune system. So stay home in your pj’s, grab a pillow and a blanket and head for the couch. It just may be the quickest road to your recovery!

Please note: I am not a medical doctor. I am a holistic health and energy healing practitioner who believes strongly in the body’s ability to heal itself. The information below is gleaned from my own success using home remedies. We are all different, and it is vital that you learn to listen to your own body’s messages and know when it is appropriate to seek medical attention.  

Love,
Barbara

Products I Use and Recommend for My Favorite Cold Remedies

10 Comments
  1. Great article, as always. The breathing steam made me laugh because I always stand over my electric water kettle when I make tea and inhale the steam, because the warmth and moisture feels so good on my face, even in the summer! (I’m highly Vata as you know.) Yes about enough sleep, as most people I meet are under-slept and don’t even know it. Yes about staying hydrated: coffee is not hydration! Yes yes yes about positive attitude — I was just out shovelling the driveway and a guy getting his mail was griping to another neighbor about getting the flu, how sick he was, how his throat hurt, on and on. I just smiled to myself, grateful for my healthy body, knowing Spring is coming soon. Thank you for this much-needed wisdom, my friend!
    Love,
    Nancy

  2. love this. love oil of oregano, thieves oil which i make myself. just did the cinnamon thing the other day when i felt a little scratchy throat and next morning… no scratchy throat. took another dose of cinnamon, and i am fine now. i also use thyme tea if i do get a cough/bronchitis which i tend to be prone to. i have been watching the pitta thing since the holy days are over, and i tell ya, my nose ain’t running so much, the cough is just about cleared up too. wear the cowl my daughter crocheted for me to keep my neck warm… shoveled snow today… life ain’t so bad.
    thanks for all of the great tips.

    jacqueline

  3. Great information … I love the warm water which is so simple and yet I do forget, even though I only drink water it’s usually room temperature, as a Kapha I cannot drink or eat anything cold my throat reacts. I use the oils as well.

  4. Barbara – Thanks a milllion for this. WOW I knew about some stuff but there alot I do not know only because Iam never sick. My last cold headcold was like 4 years ago!!. My gosh Im a mess but will be cleaning myself up thanks to all of your wonderful suggestions!! Really like the idea of putting the Thieves on the bottom of your feet. Ive done this but w2ith Vic’s. Indeed Im trying some of your fantastic ideas!! Thanks again and stay happy and healthy!! 🙂

    With much gratitude!! Elaine G

  5. Barbara – Thanks a milllion for this. WOW I knew about some stuff but there alot I do not know only because Iam never sick. My last cold headcold was like 4 years ago!!. My gosh Im a mess but will be cleaning myself up thanks to all of your wonderful suggestions!! Really like the idea of putting the Thieves on the bottom of your feet. Ive done this but w2ith Vic’s. Indeed Im trying some of your fantastic ideas!! Thanks again and stay happy and healthy!! 🙂

    With much gratitude!! Elaine G

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