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Natural Home Remedies for Colds and Flu

Mar 29th 2011 at 8:16 AM

Winter might be over, but cold and flu season is still here. Each year, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on over-the-counter cold and flu medications. At best, these provide only symptomatic relief and cannot shorten the duration of the virus, nor prevent us from catching the next one that comes along.

Save your money, and follow a few simple natural practices to help keep those cold and flu bugs at bay.

Vitamin C

When it comes to prevention, your best proactive weapon is a daily dose of vitamin C, and the best way to get your daily requirement is from eating citrus fruits. If you feel a cold coming on, load up on vitamin C by taking several 500 mg tablets each day. But be aware that this may prolong the duration of the cold, even though the symptoms are less pronounced.

Vitamin C is crucially important in the maintenance of a healthy immune system. Numerous studies have shown that an adequate daily intake of vitamin C is effective in lowering the risk of developing cancers of the breast, cervix, colon, rectum, esophagus, larynx, lung, mouth, prostate and stomach.

Vitamin C helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, thins the blood and protects it against oxidation. It also helps prevent arteriosclerosis by strengthening the artery walls. Large doses of vitamin C taken daily have been found to significantly lower the risk of cataracts and glaucoma, and reduce asthma and rheumatoid / arthritic symptoms.

An adequate intake of vitamin C is surely the best and most cost effective health insurance available today.


Many people swear by echinacea as a preventive approach. Echinacea is most effective when taken at the very first sign of cold or flu symptoms. Echinacea boosts the immune system by stimulating the production of intracellular interferon. It therefore acts as an antiviral remedy while preventing the spread of the virus within the body.

Echinacea, in combination with rest and plenty of fluids, has been used for numerous conditions including pneumonia, strep throat and influenza. Echinacea is also considered the "king" of the blood purifiers. Clinical studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in a number of infectious conditions such as flu, colds, upper respiratory tract infections, and other viral infections.

Echinacea combined with golden seal possesses an antibacterial action, largely due to the aggressive nature of the golden seal to assist in alleviating causes and symptoms associated with lower respiratory infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, or nagging cough.


Garlic's documented antibacterial and antiviral properties date back to ancient Egypt and early Chinese cultures, where it was used to lower the rate of cardiovascular disease. This led researchers to explore garlic's effect on the circulatory system. They found that garlic lowers the levels of blood fats, including triglycerides and cholesterol. As a food, it is rich in protein, vitamins A and B complex, enzymes, minerals, and flavonoids.

There has been much study of the use of garlic in the symptomatic relief of colds and flu, and as a preventative. Steeped in tea, chopped and eaten raw, minced and cooked in chicken soup - these, among others, are common methods of taking garlic for a cold. However, many people prefer to take their garlic in tablets or capsules, to eliminate the door. These can be taken daily, as a proactive measure to stop viruses before they start.

Pressed garlic in a steam vaporizer is a common method of combating head and chest congestion. Garlic tea has also been shown to be effective in fighting sinus congestion. The cloves should be steeped in boiling water, just as you would steep tea leaves.

Garlic is also known for its amazing ability to balance insulin needs, heal inflammation of the lower small intestine, alleviate lupus symptoms and depression, cure ear infections, conjunctivitis, eye infections, sinus infections, flu, vaginal yeast infections, pimples and acne. It is also used in the treatment of cancer, high blood pressure, immunodeficiency disorders, and toxic metal poisoning.


Another congestion reducer that has been used for many years is vinegar. Heat a pan of vinegar over low heat until it is warm enough to radiate fumes. Then drape a towel over your head, lean over the pan and breathe as deeply as possible. Repeat several times.


Horehound is useful as a decongestant. It can be obtained as bulk leaves, which can be brewed in tea, or as prepackaged candy or lozenges.

Chicken Soup

Don't discount the power of grandma's chicken soup. Whether it actually helps a cold or whether we just think it does, if nothing else it is a great comfort food. The steam helps loosen congestion, the chicken fat eases a sore throat and the warmth in our tummy just helps us to feel better all over.

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