Holistic Healing for Cold & Flu
The following post is written by Birdi Francis, the creator and owner of Birdi Bites LLC - an organic, gluten-free and vegan bakery.
'Tis the season for sweaters, sniffles and the need for some extra TLC. In a perfect world, our bodies would always be in balance and we’d avoid catching the seasonal cold or flu. See, sickness is a result of an imbalance in the body. We can lessen the chance of illness by maintaining balance via preventive care (getting adequate rest, staying hydrated, exercising, eating a nutritious diet, combating stress when it arises, etc.) but life happens; sometimes we let our health slip, and we need a little help.
Before you reach for over-the-counter medications to combat your tissue issues, you may want to consider a holistic approach. Here's why: natural methods help to heal the root of the problem, while over-the-counter medications merely mask it. Think of healing a wound completely versus just applying a bandaid to it. Medications may make you feel better initially (the bandaid sugar coats the problem) but can pop up again shortly after. Have you ever had a head cold that turned into a sinus infection that turned into the flu? When you heal the problem completely, you can avoid prolonging illness. In fact, most medications come with a list of side effects, while herbal and natural medicine offer only additional benefits. Holistic medicine is a win-win for your health.
Mother Earth provides all that we need to heal ourselves. And indeed the body will heal itself of ailments if given the proper tools. When you use the natural elements of the earth to nourish your body back to health, you will be restored in the purest form.
“Let thy Food be thy Medicine and thy Medicine be thy Food.” -Hippocrates
Below I have outlined 10 holistic remedies to combat cold and flu symptoms. They are most effective when utilized at the onset of illness. The sooner you recognize and treat your symptoms, the faster you will heal!
All of these items can be found at health-food stores or purchased online. I highly recommend picking certified-organic sources: free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, sewage sludge and ionizing radiation. In other words, free of substances that can contribute to illness. The cleaner the items you put in your body, the healthier you’ll be!
Holistic Remedies for Cold/Flu Symptoms
- Tonic: cayenne pepper + raw honey + lemon + filtered water
Drink 1-3 times per day, as needed.
-Cayenne: powerful spice that helps kill bacteria
-Raw Honey: antibacterial, soothes mucous membrane in throat (shoot for raw, local honey!)
-Lemon: helps alkalize the body, which fights free radicals that can make us sick
-Purified water: free of chemicals, pathogens and microbes; just like with food, the cleaner the water you consume, the cleaner and healthier your body will be!
- Apple Cider Vinegar
When you feel a cold/flu coming on, consume up to 2 Tbsp/day (can break up in smaller amounts and take 1-3 times/day).
-Take straight shots or mix with tea and honey for better taste
-Be warned: it smells as sharp as it tastes, but the benefits outweigh the initial taste-bud shock!
-For sore throat: mix 1/4 c. + 1/4 c. filtered warm water and gargle every few hours, as needed
-Antibacterial: kills germs and prevents germ growth–which helps combat congestion
-Potassium thins mucus in the body and helps sinus drainage
-Can help clear the lymph nodes, which aids in the removal of toxins in the body
-Helps promote circulation
ACV has been used throughout history. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used it as a remedy for a variety of things!
Brew whole cinnamon sticks to make tea or add ground cinnamon to meals.
A spoonful of raw honey + cinnamon taken before bed (or any time) helps combat cough.
-Can help slow growth of bacteria and fungi–which can cause the common cold
This spice has been used by our ancestors since 2800 BC for various medicinal purposes.
Consuming in a tincture or extract is best absorbed by the body.
Incorporate ground turmeric powder in meals, or consume in capsules or tea.
-Antiviral and antibacterial properties help fight infections
-Powerful anti-inflammatory which helps to relieve cold and flu symptoms
-Strong antioxidant: fights free radicals WHILE also boosting the body’s own antioxidant enzymes (double whammy!)
-Can help to build immunity against infectious diseases
Chew on ginger root, add chunks of ginger root to tea or hot water + honey, add shavings to food, consume in capsules or tea.
-Analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties act as natural pain killers
-High in Vitamin C, magnesium, and other minerals
-Can help sooth upset stomach caused by sinus drainage or the flu
Ginger has been used to treat ailments for thousands of years.
Consumed in various forms: tincture, tea, tonic, capsules. However, the most effective form is a tincture, 1-2 tsp mixed with water taken every 2-4 hours.
-Can reduce severity and duration of cold/flu symptoms
-Helps fight infectious diseases
-Boosts immune system
-Relieves upper respiratory issues
Echinacea was the preferred treatment for cold and flu before the introduction of antibiotics and can be used in a multitude of other ways!
Best if consumed raw: 1 clove 2–3 times/day.
Crushed, chewed or sliced before eating increases the allicin content (the active compound in garlic that holds most of the food’s beneficial properties).
If cooking with garlic, wait 10 minutes after crushing to prevent loss of medicinal properties.
Capsules: 600-1,200 mg/day
-Boosts immune-system function
-If consumed regularly, can help lower the risk of getting ill, shorten the duration of an illness as well as reduce cold/flu symptoms
Consume as soon as you start to experience cold or flu symptoms: syrup, capsules, liquid, tea, lozenges, juice, etc. It comes in many forms!
-One of the most beneficial antiviral herbs on Earth
-Can help inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause the cold and flu
-Similar to prescription antiviral medications, elderberry extract is highly effective in helping to shorten the duration of flu-like symptoms
-Immune system booster
Note: There are medicinal elderberry-based recipes that date back to Ancient Egypt and evidence that it was used by pre-historic man!
- Humidifier or Diffuser
Fill with purified or distilled water and place next to your bed while you sleep.
Adding essential oils to a humidifier or diffuser can ease discomfort and help you sleep better.
-Can help to relieve cough and dry throat/nasal passage while you sleep
-Some coughs can be caused by or are aggravated by dry air/a sudden switch in temperature. Moistening the air in your home, especially when you sleep, can be extremely helpful in subsiding symptoms.
See here for some helpful humidifier tips.
- Whole Foods
Food is medicine: load up on organic fruits and vegetables to reduce the onset of illness and severity of symptoms!
Think: the more vitamins and minerals you have in your body, the more good stuff to fight infection/disease and help you heal.
If you don’t have an appetite, organic 100% pressed fruit/veggie juices are a great source of vitamins and minerals
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Water is essential for flushing out toxins in the body. Hydration helps the body absorb nutrients, which is essential for good health! It also aids the kidneys in balancing electrolytes and filtering waste in the body. Hydration can also reduce congestion and help flush mucus from the body.
A hot shower, bath or steam room can do wonders. Immersing your body in hot steam can help to break a fever, aid in opening sinuses, relieve congestion, purge toxins in the body and help kill cold viruses (which are sensitive to heat).
Your body needs more rest when it’s fighting illness or infection. Take your 'Sick Days'–they’re there for a reason! Don’t overwork yourself, it will only prolong your symptoms. Get as much sleep as you can and lay low until you feel better.
Our bodies are intricate systems that combat an unbelievable amount of internal and external stressors. They work hard for us 24/7, even when we neglect them. Still they alert us when we are out of balance so that we can return to homeostasis. Take note of the warning signs your body gives you. The sooner you address them, the quicker you can regain balance, i.e. health.
There is power in healing yourself naturally. May nature’s medicine heal you. May you be well and vibrant. Feel better soon!
Birdi is the creator and owner of Birdi Bites LLC–an organic, gluten-free and vegan bakery. She is passionate about holistic health and wellness and sharing her knowledge with others so that they may be their best and most vibrant selves.
“I believe that nature provides us with all that we need to nurture, heal, and empower ourselves.”
Stock photo used can be attributed to Freestocks.org.