Autumn and winter bring their share of colds and flu, and having aches, fever, chills, nasal congestion, or sore throats is no fun at all.
Sometimes, home remedies can help to make you feel better and can bring you a bit of comfort until you get back to normal.
If you still aren’t better after a few weeks, or you have trouble with breathing, a rapid heartbeat, faintness, or other severe symptoms, seek medical help as soon as you can.
Read on to find out home cold and flu remedies that are worth a try:
1. Chicken Soup or Broth
Chicken soup seems to have an almost mythical reputation for relieving sickness. It may not cure everything, but it is a big comfort when you’re sick. Science also says that it could actually help reduce symptoms of illness.
Research says that a bowl of proper chicken soup with vegetables can actually slow the movement of neutrophils in the body. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that helps to protect the body from infection. Slowing the neutrophils means that they stay more concentrated in areas of your body that need the most healing.
The study found that chicken soup was particularly effective for reducing symptoms of upper respiratory infections. It also keeps you hydrated, which is especially important when you are ill.
2. Ginger Root
Putting a few slices of raw ginger root in hot water may help to sooth a sore throat or cough. It may also relieve the feelings of nausea that often comes with flu. One study found that 1 gram of ginger can help alleviate nausea caused by different things.
Honey is known to have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, and drinking honey in tea with lemon can help soothe a sore throat.
Honey may also suppress coughs. Researchers found that giving children 10 grams of honey at bedtime reduced the severity of their coughs. They also reportedly slept more soundly.
A child under a year old shouldn’t be given honey, as it can contain botulinum spores. These spores are harmless to older children and adults, but an infant’s immune system can’t fight them off.
Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which may have antimicrobial properties. Taking a garlic supplement may reduce the severity of your cold symptoms, and some research shows it may help you avoid getting sick.
The herb and root of echinacea has been used in Native American medicine to treat infections for more than 4 centuries. It contains flavonoids that may boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
One review suggests that taking echinacea may reduce the risk of getting a common cold by more than 50%, and it may reduce the length of the cold symptoms.
Try taking 1-2 grams of echinacea root or herb as a tea, three times daily for no longer than a week.
6. Vitamin C from Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C has health benefits, and limes, oranges, grapefruits, leafy greens, lemons, and other veggies are a good source of it.
Adding fresh lemon juice to hot tea along with honey may reduce phlegm production when you’re sick.
Probiotics are good bacteria that are found in your body, along with certain foods and supplements. They help keep your gut healthy, as well as your immune system, and may reduce the chances of getting sick with an upper respiratory infection.
Eat probiotic yogurt, which is filled with protein and calcium, and check the label for live cultures of probiotics before you buy.
8. Gargle with Salt Water
Salt water gargling may help to prevent upper respiratory infections, and could decrease cold symptoms like sore throat and nasal congestion.
Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water and swish it around your mouth and throat without swallowing it, then spit it out.
9. Vapor Rub
The smell can be strong, but some ointments like vapor rub do appear to reduce cold symptoms in children over 2 years old. It can help to open the airways to reduce congestion, coughing, and improve sleep when applied before bed.
10. Use a Humidifier
Flu tends to spread more easily in a dry environment, so creating more humidity in your house could reduce your exposure to the virus.
Extra humidity can also reduce nasal inflammation and make it easier to breathe. Using a cool mist humidifier in your bedroom at night may help you sleep better while sick. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to the humidifier could also improve breathing.
11. Take a Warm Bath
You can sometimes reduce a child’s fever by giving them a warm sponge bath, and soaking in a warm bath can reduce cold and flu symptoms in adults. Add Epsom salts or add a few drops of soothing essential oil to the water.