The immune-boosting elderberry has been used in folk medicine for centuries as an effective treatment for flu infections. Add elderberry syrup or extract to hot water to make a soothing tea. You can even add it to cold, sparkling for a refreshing drink to treat scratchy throats. Aside from helping to reduce the symptoms of cold and flu, elderberries can even help shorten the duration of your flu by as much as three days.
For centuries, ginger root has been used in traditional Chinese medicine due to its anti-inflammatory properties and soothing health benefits. For the treatment of flu symptoms, such as cough and sore throat, add a few slices of raw ginger root to a pot of boiling water. Once the water has cooled, drink it to feel its soothing effects immediately. You can also buy or make your own ginger tea. You can take this tea twice a day to help relieve flu symptoms such as headache, sore throat, congestion, and chills. It can also help to alleviate feelings of flu-related nausea. (Related: Protect yourself from flu season with these natural cold remedies.)
Honey has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties that can help prevent the onset of certain illnesses. Manuka honey, in particular, has the most potent healing benefits of any honey. You can either add it to herbal teas or take a teaspoon of honey with powdered cinnamon three times a day as soon as you feel the first signs of the flu.
Garlic contains a powerful, flu-fighting compound called allicin, which has strong antiviral and antibacterial properties. You can make a warm vegetable broth made of onions, carrots, ginger, hot peppers and plenty of garlic to help ward off illnesses and clear clogged nasal passages for easier breathing. You can also enrich your diet with garlic supplements to help reduce the severity of cold symptoms.
Hot peppers can help your sinuses and bring quick relief. This is due to their the natural compound they contain called capsaicin, which can help thin the mucus in your nose.
The echinacea plant contains active ingredients, such as flavonoids that can help reduce inflammation and boost your immune system. For over 400 years, Native Americans have been using this vital herb and its roots for the treatment of infections. Echinacea can also help reduce your risk of developing colds and shorten your cold's duration if you already do have it.
Protect yourself from stomach viruses by regularly eating yogurt with active cultures. This can make your digestive tract inhospitable to viruses and re-balance the "good flora" in your stomach and intestinal tract.
Mix a tablespoon of salt with a cup of water to make a useful gargle that can help relieve sore throats and help prevent infection.
Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a humidifier or an oil diffuser to help open up congested airways and stimulate your breathing. If you have neither of these items, you can always have a warm bath with a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil added in. The hot steam can help alleviate a bad cough and reduce symptoms of cold and flu. Eucalyptus shower bombs are also easy to make.
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