Natural Cold & Flu Remedies For Winter
Ah the dreaded winter flu season is upon us! As the weather turns, the summer departs and the leaves fall, there’s sniffles aplenty on the tube and you desperately shield yourself from the stray coughs. Ick!
I’m lucky enough to (these days!) usually only deal with one bad cold or flu a year. Over the years, I’ve been adding to my artillery to help me minimise and lessen the time I’m stuck in bed. I really learnt the power of natural remedies when I was about 20 and dealing with a particularly bad case of bronchitis.
I was on three rounds of antibiotics and nothing was working. It was bad. Really bad. So bad that I ended up being treated for walking pneumonia. Walking what? Walking pneumonia, or atypical pneumonia, is a bacterial infection that affects your upper and lower respiratory tract. It's usually not as severe as other types of pneumonia, as in - you’re not dying in hospital - though it did feel like that in my bed at times!
After a month of bronchitis, countless antibiotics, another full month of managing the pneumonia, I wondered at times if I would ever get better and back to full health. I could barely get out of bed most days and when I did make it into the office, would only last an hour or two before I needed to go back home. I lost weight, A LOT of weight, it wasn’t good. I was desperate, even on a new round antibiotics that made me feel only slightly semi-human, I was still constantly weak, tired and unable to function for even 50% of my usual day.
Until a workmate put me onto a natural remedy called Armaforce (by Bioceuticals in Australia). Within a week I was back to 90% health. I kid you not. From that point on I became a very unofficial ambassador for Armaforce. Anyone who would listen, a slight cough, a sniffle - out I would whip the Armaforce and practically shove it down their throats! I couldn’t sing it’s praises enough. And what’s better - it was purely a natural herbal blend. This post is in no way sponsored or associated with the brand, I just love it!
But on moving to the UK, I discovered that you can’t get it here! So I definitely stock up when I’m back in Australia - but I’ve also had to get creative with other natural remedies to help me along. Particularly during the early stages of a slight sniffle or tickle in the throat.
So here’s my go-to’s for the moment you sense a cold or flu approaching, hop on that early!
1. Gargle salt water
Not just any old table salt. You want the best of the best! I prefer to use himalayan pink salt or good quality sea salt. Dissolving half a teaspoon of good quality salt in one glass of filtered warm water is ideal. You can do this several times a day to reduce swelling in the throat, loosen mucus and help flush out bacteria or irritants.
2. Honey with lemon and ginger
One of my first remedies to action is a good ol’ honey, lemon and ginger elixir. Lemon is ideal for helping to shorten a cold, honey has antiseptic and antibacterial constituents that can help combat cold and flu, as well as other health issues too and ginger has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe sore throats and antibacterial properties to helps to fight off infection. All around, it’s a winning elixir that you can drink several times a day. Make sure to get only good quality raw honey or manuka honey - none of that supermarket off the shelves stuff. In Australia, there was issue with half of it not even being honey!
To make the elixir, warm some filtered water in a saucepan, add a tablespoon of the honey, squeeze half - or even a full - fresh lemon and add a few slithers of chopped ginger. Let it warm - not boil - and pour into a mug to drink.
If you’re desperate and can’t manage the energy to make the elixir, take a tablespoon of honey, dice some ginger and gulp it down with a glass of warm lemon water.
3. Armaforce or your own herbal blend
If you live in Australia, honestly, do yourself a favour, get to a chemist and ask for Armaforce. It’s the best of the best. If you’re elsewhere, after a little peek into Armaforce’s ingredients, you could probably separately buy each herb and take the tablets to ‘create’ your own. Here’s what’s inside:
4. Essential oils
One of my earliest memories when I was struggling with my sinuses was my Dad boiling me up a bowl of water, putting my head over it with a towel and adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil and having me breathe in the steam. It’s now a non-negotiable for the second my sinuses feel even slightly blocked or sniffly! Essential oils are one of the best natural ways to fight colds and flus. Here are some of my other favourite ways to use them -
Add a drop of oil of oregano to your elixir above. Oil of oregano is a super powerful antiviral and antimicrobial essential oil.
Warm a damp washcloth and add a drop or two of eucalyptus oil. Place on your forehead or chest.
Blend eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender oil in an oil diffuser and use wherever you are trying to rest. My friend Klara sells the best lavender oils ever
Use the same blend as above with epsom salts in a bath. I also like to add a few drops of sweet almond oil for super nourished, glowy skin. Hey - small pleasures when you’re sick!
Use eucalyptus, rosemary and lavender oil with sweet almond oil or another carrier like jojoba as a massage rub for your chest and even a little under your nose or on your pulse points to breathe in.
5. Bone broth
Making your own bone broth when you’re sick is to me, often just too much work. I don’t have the energy for that! So as soon as you notice a slight sniffle, make it ASAP! Worst case scenario - order yourself some Thai or Vietnamese soup with all the trimmings on the side. Tom yum soup is particularly spicy - good for clearing you out! There are a number of companies that made ready made bone broth now that you could also order online in times of desperation. Daylesford Farm are one I know here in the UK. Star Anise in Australia another.
If you do have the energy to make bone broth - here’s my go-to recipe for your slow cooker:
Add all ingredients into your slow cooker.
1-2 chicken carcasses or 1/2 kg to 1kg of chicken bones (you can get these from your local butcher. Find a good quality, organic, grass fed, pasture raised farmer near you. GRUB in Vaucluse, Sydney is my old haunt. I’m yet to find a go-to in London, but I’ll update you when I do!)
Organic root veggies like celery, carrots, potatoes chopped up.
Diced and sliced onion and garlic.
Salt and pepper
Filtered water - fill up however much your slow cooker can fit!
Put your slow cooker on low, slow heat and leave for at least 24 hours. After 24 hours, strain the veggies, chicken bones, onion, garlic and separate the liquid. Discard the bones, veggies etc. Let the broth sit to cool and then store in fridge. As it cools, you’ll notice the fat harden on top. You can remove this and enjoy the broth underneath. This may seem like handwork, but once you’ve done it once, you’ll see how easy it is to have an abundance of gut healing, immunity boosting bone broth in your fridge. I prefer the taste of chicken bone broth, but you could also make beef bone broth. There’s something to be said about chicken soup when you’re sick though!
You guys know by now I’m a BIG fan of adaptogens. So what are the best ones for immunity? Cordyceps - that magical mushroom, has got to be up there. I love to add this into my matchas, smoothies and moon milks when I’m feeling down. Glow Bar have a great jar that you can buy here. Other great adaptogens to add into your breakfast smoothie are Astralagus and Chaga.
8. Fluids and rest
When in doubt, drink your filtered water, drink your herbal teas and sleep as much as possible. There really is no point doing any of the above if you’re not also allowing your body to take what you’re fueling it with to really heal properly. Take a day or two off work, they can survive without you. Ask a friend to help with the kids, leave the washing for a day - it can wait. Your health is most important right now. Everyone is better off when you’re well. Self care first please.
Now I’m sure there’s millions of different natural remedies, but these are my favourites. Do you have any go-to’s? Share with us below! I’m always looking for a new addition to my toolkit!