Have you been hit with the sick bug this year yet? If so, I hope you were able to combat it quickly. If not, I put together a list of my absolute favorite herbs and natural remedies for cold and flu – these are some must have on hand tips and products if and when necessary.
I was struck with a severe cold for two weeks this fall and suffered from an ongoing cough for many weeks after. For me, the worst part about being sick is that I’m usually left with a congested cough for quite some time following the cold. I always try to treat my symptoms naturally without resorting to over the counter cold medicines that never work anyway. I have found great relief using herbs and natural remedies for colds. Here are four of my sick season essentials:
1. Probiotics for Strong Immunity
The best thing to do is to avoid getting sick in the first place! It’s important to keep your immune system resilient all year round so that it is ready to fight off any incoming bacteria or infection. And since nearly 80% of your immune system lies within your gut, it’s important to supply your gut with everything it needs to stay strong. I’m mainly talking about bacteria. There are countless good bacteria that live inside and on our bodies to help it function properly. One of these is called probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that have a wide variety of health benefits, such as aiding in digestion and boosting immune health.
I try to consume as many probiotic-rich foods before resorting to probiotic supplements. I choose foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, yogurt, kimchi, and miso to help feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Your gut and immune system will be stronger to fight off infections and to help you recover faster if you do get sick.
Turmeric is a root member of the ginger family. It has large amounts of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, even proving to relieve digestive discomfort. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is the ingredient that gives turmeric its bright, orange color and is largely responsible for all these amazing health benefits. Black pepper has been found to increase the body’s absorption of turmeric significantly, so pairing the two is always recommended.
Turmeric is available in many forms and is a great natural spice to incorporate into your daily living. It is also very affordable and can found online or at any market. I put turmeric in and on everything – eggs, cauliflower, tofu, broccoli, chicken, in smoothies, elixirs, mixed with coconut oil for a natural teeth whitener, and more.
3. Steam Tent for Congestion
As soon as I get a runny nose and congestion starts forming in my chest, I immediately start using a steam tent. This is a great way to relieve pressure in the nasal canal and also allows you to sweat out toxins in your own makeshift sauna. It leaves you feeling detoxified, exfoliated and relaxed.
How to: Boil a large pot of water, add your own essential oils (I use 2 Tbsp. Franklin & Whitman’s Botanical Steam mixture) to a glass bowl and pour the boiling water over the herbs/oils. Hold a towel open over your head, close your eyes and lean over the bowl of steaming water. Breathe in deeply through your nose, and inhale the steam for about 10-15 minutes.
4. Herbs and Minerals
I use a lot of herbal products on a daily basis, and I have a few that are particularly helpful when I’m sick. Gaia Bronchial Wellness Tea is my favorite tea to consume when I develop any congestion or cough. Gaia Black Elderberry Syrup is another staple I take several times a day while I’m sick. The flowers and berries of elderberry plants (blue and black) are most often used medicinally. They contain flavonoids, which have antioxidant and immunologic properties that can help in treating influenza, bacterial sinusitis, and bronchitis.
Taking a relaxing bath with mineral salts can also really help your entire body to relax. I use peppermint scented salts, because peppermint helps treat symptoms of coughs and colds.
I hope you will make it through this winter season healthy and strong, but if you get sick this year, try my sick season essentials – natural remedies for cold and flu- and treat your symptoms naturally.
Want to read more?
-Berggren, A., Lazou Ahrén, I., Larsson, N., & Önning, G. (2011). Randomised, double-blind and placebo-controlled study using new probiotic lactobacilli for strengthening the body immune defence against viral infections. European Journal of Nutrition, 50(3), 203–210. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-010-0127-6
– Ulbricht, C., Basch, E., Cheung, L., Goldberg, H., Hammerness, P., Isaac, R., … Wortley, J. (2014). An Evidence-Based Systematic Review of Elderberry and Elderflower ( Sambucus nigra) by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Journal of Dietary Supplements, 11(1), 80–120. https://doi.org/10.3109/19390211.2013.859852