Natural cold and flu remedies are incredibly effective during the season of sniffles and sore throats. Staying healthy during winter doesn’t have to mean dosing yourself up with a myriad of prescriptions and over the counter medications. I’ve put together some of my favourite remedies which are natural, simple enough to DIY at home and are fast acting to get you back on your feet.
Onion is brilliant at enhancing the body’s natural defence system and makes a very effective natural cold and flu remedy.
It’s a natural expectorant which means it helps calm a pesky cough and respiratory issues. Add these onion recipes to your go-to list of natural cold and flu remedies to treat colds, coughs and stuffy noses.
Use an onion as an air purifier
Onions make a great air purifier – strange but true! Cut an onion in half and place a half on your bedside table before you go to sleep. During the night, the onion will refresh the air to help tackle a congested nose and improve breathing.
Onion and sugar expectorant syrup
An expectorant helps draw mucus and other material out of the lungs by thinning out secretions. Onion is a natural expectorant and has been one of the most popular natural cold and flu remedies used throughout the centuries; plus it contains vitamin C and phytochemicals which helps boost the immune system.
Here’s how to whip up an onion and sugar expectorant syrup:
1 peeled brown onion
3 heaped tablespoons of white granulated sugar (you can substitute sugar for honey)
Small bowl or plate
Cut the onion into large slices and lay out on the plate or bowl then sprinkle sugar over the slices. After a few hours, the onion juice will start to collect in the bowl. Take a spoonful of the juice on the hour – don’t worry, it has a nice sweet taste! Make the onion syrup fresh each day and keep it refrigerated.
You can also swap the sugar for local honey to make the expectorant syrup with different preparation method. Hollow out an onion and put skewers in the bottom of the onion and sit over a glass. Then, fill the hollow of the onion with honey. The honey will drip through to the glass and you can sip the honey and onion mixture.
Another method using local honey is to slice the onion and place in an ovenproof dish. Pour approx 1 cup of honey over the slices place in the oven on low heat. Let the syrup heat up until the onions are soft, strain the mixture into a glass jar and take a tablespoon of it every few hours until your cough subsides.
Fresh Ginger Tea
One of the classic natural cold and flu remedies with an excellent track record of stopping coughs and sniffles in their tracks.
Take a knob of fresh ginger slice off a piece about 3 cms long. Grate the piece and put the minced ginger into a tea strainer and pop the strainer into a mug. Pour boiling water into the mug and let the tea sit for about 5 minutes. Remove the strainer and add a little honey to the mug for a sweeter flavour if you want to offset the spiciness of the ginger.
The addition of honey will also help soothe a scratchy, irritated throat. Take 3 cups a day until your cold symptoms have disappeared. Even if you’re not feeling under the weather, this is a such a warm, comforting drink for those cold winter days!
Epsom salt bath
A hot bath with Epsom salts will help draw out toxins and is one of the simple cold and flu remedies you can DIY at home. Your skin is your body’s largest organ for eliminating toxins and the magnesium and sulfur added to the bathwater by Epsom salts will speed up the process.
You can even add a few drops of essential oil to soothe flu-induced muscle aches; tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender are good options. Peppermint oil also has a history as a natural decongestant to reduce the symptoms of a cold.
Be sure to drink a few big glasses of water before taking the bath and afterwards, to keep your fluid levels up. Staying hydrated is very important to effectively fight winter colds and cases of the flu.
Salt water gargle
Cold and flu remedies don’t get much easier than the tried and true salt water gargle which can soothe an inflamed throat in just a few hours. Much better than reaching for an over-the-counter medication straight away!
Why does it work? The salt draws out fluid from your throat to expel infection and it also helps break up thick mucus.
Mucus and phlegm protect the bacteria creating the infection so you need to get it out of your throat to shake the cold off. Once the mucus is gone, the bacteria are exposed to the salt water and can’t thrive in that environment.
Simply add a 3/4 teaspoon salt to a cup of unchlorinated water and gargle for 30 second – 1 minute and spit the water out. Repeat several times throughout the day.
Studies have shown a simple salt water gargle prevents upper respiratory tract infections too so it’s definitely a great addition to your winter routine, even if your feeling fit and healthy!
Manuka honey is one of Mother Nature’s sweetest gems brimming with powerful antiseptic and antiviral properties that can kill bacteria that cause a sore throat. Manuka honey also cools inflammation to soothe the burning sensation by either eating a spoonful or mixing it with a squeeze of lemon and hot water as a healing tea. For best results choose a Manuka honey product with a certification of at least UMF (unique manuka factor) 10+
I hope these natural cold and flu remedies are helpful for you during the winter months. If you have any of your own you’d like to share, leave a message in the comments below.