I may receive a commission if you purchase through links in this post. I am not a doctor; please consult your practitioner before changing your supplement or healthcare regimen.
Natural Remedies and Prevention for Cold and Flu spans prevention for, natural remedies for and recovery from colds and the flu. There are many common natural remedies that are beneficial when trying to prevent viruses, including raw garlic, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, herbal immune boosters, proper hygiene and a nutrient-dense diet. This post goes beyond the most commonly used solutions to remedies we’ve found to be more effective in our home.
Influenza is a broad term for a viral infection that has thousands of strains. Symptoms often include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach discomfort (especially in children), fever, chills, fatigue and sometimes additional symptoms such as sore throat, headache and dizziness. Influenza can infect the lungs, the joints and cause pneumonia.
How is the flu different from a cold? Colds do not come from the influenza virus (rather, more than 200 different viruses are known to cause symptoms of the common cold), and cold symptoms are milder: usually runny nose, congestion and sore throat.
Remedies in our home
While I’ve used all of the common remedies with my kids, my youngest child doesn’t do well with raw garlic (he gets hives), so even though it’s a remedy that works well in my own body, it’s helpful to know multiple remedies for a variety of ages and individuals. Our bodies don’t all respond the same way to treatments.
This article shares ten remedies we use in our home that are less discussed, yet they’re highly effective, easily accessed and affordable. May they help you to prevent or address colds or the flu the next time they threaten your home.
A few of the remedies below are well known, but I mention them to attach additional details about them. Once understood, we’re more likely to implement core wisdom.
Prevention of colds and flu
Immunopathology refers to a strong immune response against a virus — a response so strong it causes damage to the body itself in an effort to control the virus. One of the main reasons we use natural remedies is to prevent this extreme of a reaction. (source)
What we think of as getting sick (with cold or flu) is oftentimes not the virus itself wreaking havoc. A strong immune response actually means more symptoms: more mucous, more inflammation, more discomfort and sometimes complications.
While we certainly want our bodies to have an immune response, remedies are used to help fight that battle, so our body’s immune response can lighten. We can experience fewer symptoms while overcoming sickness.
Before we jump into natural foods and supplements, it’s important to iterate: prevention is the best approach:
- At the first sign of symptoms, our family acts. We use remedies 1 and 2 below until initial symptoms subside. If you wait until you’re fully sick before taking action, the duration and symptoms of your virus will be worse. While remedies can help to alleviate and shorten symptoms, it helps to be swift and thorough initially.
- Remedies 5 and 8 below are also essential: In short, they include the right kind of water and plenty of sleep or rest. The immune system is complex and doesn’t work as well (think cytokines, which regulate our immune response) without rest. And water helps to usher out toxins, even on a cellular level.
While all of the remedies below are helpful, we don’t neglect these four at the first sign of symptoms, and very rarely get sick, as a result.
1. Cold Calm
This homeopathic remedy is so effective that’s it’s our first line of defense. The directions for use are: “At the onset of symptoms, dissolve 2 tablets under the tongue every 15 minutes for 1 hour. Then, dissolve 2 tablets under the tongue 3 times a day, until symptoms are relieved.” This dosage and method actually work! I challenge any cold, in its first stages, to this treatment. The key is to use Cold Calm when you first feel a cold coming on, and you’ll see how effective this approach is.
I put Cold Calm on Subscribe & Save through Amazon.com for our family, so we get a box every month or two and always have it on hand.
You can read more about Cold Calm here. It combines 9 homeopathics for various cold symptoms into one remedy.
Find Cold Calm here.
2. Colloidal Silver
Colloidal Silver is actually my all time favorite remedy. That’s because it’s incredibly strong and effective against viruses, bacteria, infections, pathogens and a variety of illnesses. But very gentle on humans (more on this below).
One example includes a kidney infection I had about a year ago. Kidney infections can be dangerous, so after 30 years of no antibiotics, I let my N.D. talk me into taking antibiotics for it. I tried 2 rounds, 2 different antibiotics, and neither worked. So I told her I was going to use a higher dose of colloidal silver (than most people use or is given as a dosage on the bottle), and she agreed. Colloidal silver worked! — when nothing else did.
In our home, we buy it in bulk from a local farmer who makes it for her cows. You can buy a machine to make your own, which is expensive up front, but saves money over time.
The key to colloidal silver safety is to buy (or produce) the nanoparticle product. Sovereign Silver is a reliable and safe product if you choose to buy it. (Find it here [best price for buying in bulk].)
HOW COLLOIDAL SILVER WORKS
Colloidal silver does not affect single-celled beneficial enzymes. But when it comes into contact with a virus, fungus, bacterium or any other single celled pathogen, it disables its oxygen metabolism enzyme, basically causing suffocation.
Nano-particle colloidal silver has no side effects, and humans can not overdose on it. It is considered completely safe in the medical world, with clinical testing to back up its efficacy against more than 650 different disease causing pathogens. (sources 1, 2, 3)
Regarding dosage, most bottles recommend just 1 teaspoon up to three times daily. Personally, we use anywhere from 1 to 3 tablespoons, one to three times daily. I decide dosage based on the severity of symptoms and overall situation. Make your own decision on dosage. I am not a doctor and don’t claim to be one. Ask your doctor.
I’m happy to share how we use colloidal silver, because our method is part of our success with this remedy. When we have nasal congestion or the beginnings of a sore throat, we tilt our heads way back, gargle well with a silver solution (I like to use 2 tablespoons water with 2 tablespoons silver and gargle twice), then swallow. This kills any offenders in the throat and nose, and then also assists internally.
3. Zinc (and don’t eat mustard …)
I know, this is a funny one, the mustard part, but a good thing to know. Cells use zinc for protection, so they work more efficiently fighting a virus when supplied with zinc.
Why no mustard? Mustard, whether the powder, seed or condiment, depletes the body of zinc in the process of being digested. Actually, it’s not just mustard: All foods high in phytic acid deplete minerals, and zinc is a mineral. So whole grains, nuts and all seeds (not just the mustard seed, although mustard is particularly a culprit) are best to avoid or reduce when fighting off a virus or wanting to reap the benefits of zinc.
Find Zinc here.
4. Gelatin OR Collagen (here’s why)/homemade broth/stock
A lot of you know already that chicken soup is truly a good remedy for viruses, but I think it’s relevant to explain why and to let you know that you have three options: gelatin, collagen and homemade broth.
Sometimes understanding the why makes us more likely to use a remedy.
Amino acids are grouped into three categories, based on how our bodies obtain them. A nutrient-dense diet satisfies the body’s need for 1) essential and 2) nonessential amino acids. Our bodies do not produce either essential or nonessential amino acids.
The third category, conditional amino acids, are those found in gelatin, collagen and homemade broth. These are produced by the body under specific circumstances, typically when fighting off an illness or handling stress. During periods of infection, however, the body often can not produce enough conditionally essential amino acids.
Amino acids help to build protein chains and help to play a supportive role in almost every part of the body. So it’s no wonder that the conditional amino acids we’re talking about have anti-inflammatory effects and stimulate the immune system.
Gelatin, collagen and homemade broth also aid normal digestion, repair of tissue and provide energy.
As many of you know who’ve read my blog for years, Vitamin C is used up by the body in the process of digesting collagen, gelatin and bone broth’s amino acids. So in order to make these food supplements effective, be sure to consume this co-factor. You can read more about taking Vitamin C and collagen here, including the best sources of Vitamin C.
- Find collagen here. Use the code BEAUTIFUL10 at checkout for 10% off.
- Find Perfect Supplements gelatin here. Use discount code BEAUTIFUL10 at checkout for 10% off.
- Make your own Bone Broth here.
5. Soil minerals: Fulvic Acid
The highest quality fulvic acid helps to support the body’s intrinsic detox pathways. I’ve talked before about the importance of grounding to restore optimum organ function. Internally, fulvic acid also restores an optimal electric charge, which aids the absorption of nutrients (think zinc and Vitamin C being more bioavailable!) and expels toxins.
Mother Earth Labs produces the best fulvic acid with an additional processing step that frees up more binding sites to help fulvic molecules better support detox. When you take their product, be sure to drink plenty of clean, filtered water, and watch for benefits to your organ systems, immune system, circulatory system and lymphatic system. I experienced newfound health and energy when I started this supplement years ago.
With fulvic acid comes water, and that’s the hidden benefit here! Water fortified with fulvic acid is easier for the body to utilize. And including minerals in your water may help you to drink more often.
Staying well hydrated flushes out toxins. Plus, if already sick, mucous production and fevers both use up the body’s moisture, which then needs to be replaced.
At the very least, we use Trace Mineral Drops (here) in every glass of water we drink. Trace minerals are the catalysts for vitamins and other nutrients our bodies use for promoting and maintaining good health.
In short, we stay well hydrated with quality mineral water.
6. Red Root
Sometimes when we’re feeling the symptoms of illness, we’re actually feeling the result of our lymph system’s congestion. Red root powerfully cleans and clears out the lymphatics. (I’ve written about using red root each spring here and how it helped me to discover internal worms!)
After our immune systems have killed microbes, we help clear out the debris with red root.
Last spring, I used just 5 drops 3x daily for my 10-year-old son, while the rest of us follow the dosage on the bottle. Check with your doctor for dosage, especially for children.
Find Red Root tincture here.
7. Miso (yes!) in bone broth
For good reason soy has gotten a bad rap among traditional and Paleo health food advocates. It can be hormone-altering and repress thyroid function.
But what some health foodies don’t know is that soy can lose those negative effects when it’s fermented. In fact, soy gains healing properties, little discussed, through fermentation. Miso is one such food, a fermented soybean paste, that’s delicious in soups and marinades.
The reason miso should be invited into many more traditional and Paleo homes is due to its anti-radiation and gut-healing benefits. Miso has been studied both historically and through scientific studies. It regulates intestinal functions, relieves fatigue, aids digestion, prevents colon cancer, prevents ulcers and also positively affects many other health issues including cancer, cholesterol and blood pressure issues. (source)
Of course, miso is still estrogenic for some, so do avoid it if you know your body is negatively affected.
Two years ago, my grown-up daughter came home, after months of exertion, and got the flu. She asked for homemade bone broth on Day 2. It was all that sounded good to her. I quickly made bone broth in my Instant Pot with the pastured pork bones we had on hand. She doesn’t love the flavor of pork broth, had wanted chicken broth; so I amended the flavor and increased the nutrition with miso. We all LOVED it and felt so sustained and comforted. While she ate little for days, miso broth helped her feel better and tasted so delicious to all of us.
It’s a staple in our home now. At the time, I still had Hashimoto’s (now in remission/gone), but I never got a dip in energy (just the opposite) from it, like I would from non-fermented soy.
Find long-fermented, gluten-free miso here.
Sleeping at the first hint of sickness increases resistance to infection. As one published study explains, “the immune system and sleep interact to alter host defenses against pathogens…” (source).
The body is more vulnerable to inflammatory immune responses following sleep deprivation. Conversely, an enhanced response to antigens occurs after “viral challenge” is met with sleep. (source)
This method is my husband’s first go-to. If he can come home from work and just sleep, his body heals itself and fights off whichever virus is threatening.
9. Eat more — for kids or the nutrient deficient
This tip isn’t for everyone. This tip is especially for teens and children who are underweight or anyone eating a nutrient deficient diet (think, processed foods). Immune systems don’t work as well when the body is already struggling for energy and resources.
- Basmati rice made with meat stock
- Peeled white potatoes mashed with meat stock or bone broth
- Parsnips and spaghetti squash, prepared with traditional fat
- In addition to healthy proteins: grass-finished beef, lamb or eggs
Everyone digests carbs differently, especially when gut healing is happening, so it’s best to stay Paleo, grain-free and even nightshade-free, if that’s your current diet. But if you already enjoy well prepared grains, soaked oats and buckwheat can help to provide minerals and carbohydrates.
Additional easy foods to include are:
- Egg Drop Soup, made with bone broth or meat stock
- Paleo pancakes eaten like bread (with just butter/coconut oil and a little honey)
- Smoothies that include both collagen and vitamin C (see #4 above)
Avoid sugar, wheat and pasteurized dairy, as well as processed foods.
This amino acid, also labeled L-Lysine, can prevent viruses from mutating when it’s in higher ratios in the body than the amino acid arginine. Ask your doctor about dosage, which is usually recommended at up to 2 grams daily during times of fighting infection. L-Lysine also supports collagen synthesis.
Grass-finished lamb, beef, wild game and most meats are great food sources.
Find L-Lysine here.
Natural Remedies and Prevention for Cold and Flu Honorable Mentions
Here are a few other remedies to consider that we’ve used and found to be effective over the years:
- Olive leaf extract (find it here) — Immune supporting components like oleuropein in olive leaf block viral protein production and interrupt replication. (source)
- Berberine or Goldenseal (find it here) — This antimicrobial herb makes it harder for bacteria to attach to mucus membranes in lung or other tissue.
- Black walnut tincture (find it here) — The active compound in black walnut is juglone, found to be both antibacterial and antiviral. This is one of my husband’s favorites. He sometimes makes his own from local trees and keeps a tincture bottle in his truck, to have on hand whenever he needs it. Black walnut hulls also help to expel old waste from the digestive tract and thus, are often used as part of a GI cleanse. (source)
- Salt water rinse — Salt has been used as an anti-infective, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory treatment for thousands of years. A simple daily swish of saltwater increases the pH balance of the mouth, creating an alkaline environment and making it hard for bacteria to survive. The mouth is our first line of defense against viral infections, too.
Saltwater is called an isotonic solution, which means it contains the same concentration of salt and minerals that our body does. After flu-induced vomiting, saltwater provides the perfect rinse to cleanse the mouth from the stomach’s acids. It’s also great to gargle with to address a sore throat, killing the bacteria and viruses responsible for strep, tonsillitis or a common cold.
Whether for prevention or treatment once you’re sick, this simple method is inexpensive and kills bacteria and viruses.
- Gentian — Gentian is my favorite digestive bitter, used to adjust the stomach’s pH naturally by stimulating the gall bladder and liver. It’s a strong agent which helps the body to digest fats and proteins, but it has another lesser-known benefit.
By creating a more acidic stomach environment, gentian makes the stomach inhospitable to viruses and bacteria. I take gentian three times a day to adjust the pH of my stomach for meals (and to assist the detoxification of my liver). These daily doses indirectly ward off illness too.
Consider gentian for three reasons: bless your digestion, improve liver function and … kill viruses in your stomach before they can proliferate and make you sick.
Find Gentian tincture here. Or make your own (to save money) here.
Gentian, by the way, is in the family of herbs known as bitters. It has a similar effect on the stomach as apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, but is stronger. You can use standard bitters, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice similarly, but they may not work as well because they’re not as potent.
- Avoid iron (unless recommended by your doctor) — Viruses make use of iron as a part of their reproductive cycle, so withholding iron helps to block their proliferation.