When cold and flu season approaches, there’s a part of me that wants to keep my kids home and hibernate! Doesn’t it seem like this would be easier sometimes? Unfortunately – this isn’t real life! Thankfully, there are some really great natural resources available that can help us combat cold and flu symptoms, and even prevent them from starting. With so many resources available, it can be overwhelming to know which ones really do work. Through a lot of trial and error over the years, I have found some really great preventatives and natural remedies when cold and flu symptoms knock on our door. Below I share my 5 tried and true natural remedies for cold and flu season. Why am I talking about just these 5? Because they are my “go to” remedies that work!
#1 Raw Garlic
Garlic is one of the oldest, cultivated plants in the world. It is rich in manganese, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and vitamins B6 and C, making it beneficial for so many functions of your body. One of the key components of garlic is allicin, a sulfur compound formed in raw garlic after the clove is cut or crushed. Allicin is known to have great anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-oxidant properties.
Fun Fact: Garlic was given to slaves building the Egyptian pyramids as a tool for increasing strength and endurance. In Greek and Rome, garlic was served to athletes and soldiers before sporting events or war.
You can google so many instances in history where garlic was used as a healing power. Much to our advantage, we can still rely on its natural benefits today.
How to Consume Garlic
The most effective way to consume garlic is to mince it into small pieces, add it to a cup of water and drink. If you aren’t thrilled about drinking garlic water, you can also put a few pieces in your mouth at a time and swallow it with a drink of water (this is how I prefer it).
Garlic is great to ingest on a regular basis as a cold and flu preventative. If garlic is not apart of your everyday diet, it is important to begin consuming when you feel the onset of symptoms. It is best to only consume 1 to 2 cloves at a time. Ingesting too much garlic at one time may not settle well with your stomach and you may produce a body odor.
Note: Organic garlic is preferred
#2 On Guard by doTERRA
DoTERRA is a very reputable essential oil company. One of their most popular oils is On Guard, and for good reason. On Guard is advertised as a “protective blend,” used to support the immune system and help kill off harmful bacteria and viruses. It contains a blend of five essential oils, including:
- Wild orange peel
- Clove bud
- Cinnamon bark & leaf
- Eucalyptus leaf
- Rosemary leaf & flower
How to use On Guard
- Ingest It: It is important to dilute this oil before ingesting by adding one drop of oil to every 4 milliliters of water. Do not exceed two to three drops
- Diffuse It: Add 3 to 4 drops to a diffuser and use the oil as an aromatherapy
- Apply it to the Skin: Dilute one to two drops with a carrier oil and apply to skin
- Use as Household Cleaner: Add desired amount of oil to water and spray on surface
For my kids, I prefer to buy these roller bottles from Amazon. Fill the roller bottle with On Guard and a carrier oil and roll on the bottom of their feet as a cold and flu preventative.
Note: Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.
#3 Garlic Olive Oil for Ear Infections
Research has shown that most children fight off an ear infection within 24-72 hours. However, this isn’t reassuring when your child is in pain and is crying from the discomfort. Fortunately, garlic is a great treatment option for ear infections and earaches. The olive oil contains potent polyphenols which help to reduce inflammation. The combination of garlic and olive oil together can have an immediate positive effect on the infection and help reduce the pain quickly.
Garlic Olive Oil
- 1 garlic clove (organic if possible), finely minced
- 2 Tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil
- In a small pan over low heat, warm olive oil. Make sure olive oil does not get too hot
- When the oil is warm, add the minced garlic
- Keep mixture on very low heat for 15-20 minutes (you do not want the mixture to start boiling)
- Strain the garlic and remove
- Let the mixture cool to room temperature
- Place 2 drops in the affected ear
- Repeat as necessary
*If needed, it is best to make a new batch of garlic olive oil after 24 hours since bacteria can potentially grow from garlic.
Note: This should never be given if the ear drum is ruptured or if there are tubes in the ears.
#4 Apple Cider Cough Syrup
A deep cough that goes all the way to your chest, causing aching pain can be miserable. Much to our advantage, raw apple cider vinegar has numerous health benefits to help suppress a cough. Apple cider vinegar includes acetic acid, potassium, magnesium, probiotics, and enzymes. Acetic acid has the capability to kill “bad” bacteria and at the same time, promote the growth of “good” bacteria. Because acetic acid kills unwanted bacteria when it comes into contact with it, the acid essentially acts as a natural antibiotic (1)
Apple Cider Cough Syrup
- 12 oz cup of warm water
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (preferably Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons of honey (locally produced raw honey is best)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
- Place all ingredients in a cup and shake well
- If you can do it – drink the whole glass or as much as you can
- Repeat as necessary
- If you do not have ground ginger and you need this mixture right away, simply leave the ginger out. I have used the mixture without ground ginger and it is still very effective.
- If you don’t think you can stomach all of these ingredients, 8 oz of water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar 3 times a day is also a great remedy.
- I will warn you, this is a strong syrup! I would not suggest giving this to your children.
#5 Elderberry Syrup
There are so many amazing benefits of elderberry such as its ability to fight influenza, viral and bacterial infections. Elderberries are packed with nutrients including minerals like potassium, iron, and phosphorous, as well as vitamins A, B, & C.
A study published by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine concluded that elderberry can be used as a safe treatment for influenza A & B. This is because of its effectiveness on all strains of the influenza virus that were tested. During the 1995 Panama flu epidemic, the government began using elderberry to fight the flu (2). Yes that’s right, not a vaccine, an actual natural PLANT!
Another study published in the Journal of International Medical Research showed that when the extract is used within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms, it can shorten the duration of flu symptoms by 4 days (3).
Homemade Elderberry Syrup
- 2/3 cup elderberries (I suggest this brand)
- 4 cups of water
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 tsp cloves or clove powder
- 1 cup of raw honey
- Bring elderberries, water, ginger, and cinnamon stick to a boil and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour
- Let cool and then strain and pour over 1 cup of raw honey, mix well
- Pour into a mason jar and store in your refrigerator
Note: You can freeze elderberry syrup, so I suggest storing in the refrigerator what you will use within the next month, and freezing the rest in mason jars.
- Child Preventative: 1 teaspoon daily
- Child Cold and Flu Symptoms: 1 teaspoon every 2 to 3 hours
- Adult Preventative: 2 tablespoons daily
- Adult Cold and Flu Symptoms: 2 tablespoons every 2 to 3 hour
Note: These dosages are a recommendation only
Disclaimer: The information included in this post is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding your medical treatment.