This season, my husband and I were hit pretty hard with…something. It was a knock-you-off-your-feet couple of weeks. I did an assessment (since I am not big on doctor visits) and it seemed we were hit with the flu. Somehow, our toddlers escaped it. But both he and I were hanging out in the bathroom for several days. Let’s just say it wasn’t a bonding time for us. We were both very grateful for my arsenal of natural cold and flu remedies!
We don’t get the flu vaccine, so it is our responsibility to keep our vitamin D levels up to fight it off. Obviously, we didn’t do a great job. Of course, we are none the worse for wear and our immune systems now have a natural immunity to the flu for this season – as do our children (since they were breastfeeding during this time)!
Clearly, we must have remedies on hand to relieve symptoms! And…we do! While there are times when medications may become necessary, there are many, many times when they simply aren’t necessary: a few simple lifestyle changes and proactive habits can reduce symptoms and treat naturally colds and the flu.
My Medicine Cabinet – Natural Cold and Flu Remedies
This is not an exhaustive list, but it works well for our family. They are all items we usually have on hand, too…especially the second remedy!
- Bone broth – The benefits of bone broth (or stock) are innumerable. I usually always have some in the freezer and, when someone is sick, I’ll thaw some out and we will drink (warm) throughout the day. Broth is easy to digest which allows the body to spend energy on healing, rather than on difficult-to-digest foods. It calms the stomach (super helpful during the flu!) and can shorten the length of illnesses. See my recipe for nourishing, easy chicken stock.
- Breastfeeding – While this isn’t an option for everyone :), children who are breastfeeding gain many antibodies for viruses and illnesses for which they would not have received otherwise. Breastfeeding almost always ensures a child will stay hydrated as, again, it’s easy for them to digest and is quickly used by their little bodies to aid in healing – or to protect from illness. While sick, a nursing child may want to nurse more frequently. This is good and should be encouraged as much as possible. For more on the benefits of breastfeeding for protection from illnesses, see this post.
- Probiotics – Probiotics are incredibly beneficial as they encourage the growth of the good and needed bacteria in our systems. They also help to settle the stomach, after the initial push of toxins through the body. Probiotic-rich foods (like kombucha, kefir, fermented veggies, etc.) are vastly superior to a supplement. However, there are times when a supplement is needed (for example, I often carry a bottle with us when we’re out). When selecting a probiotic supplement, you’ll want something with as close to 50 billion CFUs per capsule and as close to 10 different strains as possible. This is the brand I occasionally use, and Renew Life is also an excellent brand.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – ACV alkalizes the body and helps to kill off bacteria. A tablespoon in water can be gargled and drunk every hour until symptoms disappear (or as often as you can). I use this brand.
- Vitamin D3 – In this post, I discussed the importance of maintaining the right levels of vitamin D in order to fight off sickness. Well, once sick, it is crucial to boost your immune system with as much vitamin D as possible. This can come in the form of a combination of sun (fresh air is always good!) and supplements. You’re looking for vitamin D3 (not D2) with 4000-5000 IUs. At the first sign of symptoms, you can take as many as 1000 IUs per pound of body weight throughout the day, for several days. Most people are shocked when they find out how many pills that is and always clarify – are you sure?! Yes.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C also speeds recovery. Adults should attempt 500mg every hour, until stools become loose. This is the dose you will want to maintain (spread out throughout the day is fine) for the duration of your illness. Start children off with a lesser dose, around 100-200mg. The chance of overdose is very low since vitamin C is water soluble. This is a great brand.
- Elderberry syrup – This recipe is an excellent option and much more cost-effective than ready-made bottles of the syrup from the store. Elderberries contain high levels of vitamins A, B and C. They stimulate the immune system which makes them a perfect remedy for your cold and flu medicine cabinet. When sick, adults should take 1/2-1 Tablespoon every 2-3 hours until symptoms disappear. I buy my ingredients for elderberry syrup here.
What natural cold and flu remedies do you have in your medicine cabinet? Have you followed my “Home Remedies” board on Pinterest, yet?