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8 Best Natural Cold and Flu Remedies At Home – Save Money with Frugal Flu Treatment

By Heather Levin

Sick in BedSo, you’re down for the count. You have body aches, the chills, an achy head, a runny nose, and a fever.

You don’t need a medical degree from Harvard to know you’ve got…the flu.

We’ve all had it at least once. And many of us get sick with it on a regular basis, even if we do get a flu shot and take multivitamins on a regular basis.

When we’re down with the flu, the last thing you want to do is go out into the cold and haul yourself to the doctor’s office. If you’ve ever had a lengthy wait in a doctor’s waiting room when you’re sick, then you know the special kind of torture this can be. Moreover, a doctor’s visit and those expensive prescriptions can cause some serious damage to your wallet.

The good news is that there are plenty of at-home flu remedies you can try instead of hitting the doctor’s office.

1. Think Steam
When you have a cold or the flu, steam is your friend because it helps open your airways

Boil water and pour it in a large bowl containing at least two teaspoons of shaved ginger. Drape a towel over your head, lower it until you’re right over the bowl, and breathe in the gingered steam. You can also do this with Vick’s Vapor Rub. Simply drop a heaping spoonful of the balm into the boiling water and stir it until it dissolves. Again, breathe in the steam.

2. Eat Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
I’m a vegetarian, but when my family or friends get sick, I make a gigantic pot of homemade chicken noodle soup. My friends swear that a few bowls of the soup are better than a trip to the doctor’s office. This might be a good way to save on medical expenses.

Why does chicken noodle soup help heal you when you’re sick? Well, doctors and scientists aren’t really sure. Some think that the hot chicken soup can improve the function of cilia, which are the tiny projections on your lungs that help protect you from foreign bacteria. The soup can also help strengthen the movement of your white blood cells, which fight disease. The broth also gives your body much-needed hydration.

Personally, I think it works because homemade chicken noodle soup is made with love. Delivering that homemade soup is a sure sign that you care about someone, and I think this perks them up more than anything you could buy over the counter.

3. Drink Ginger Tea
Ginger helps stimulate the nerves that lead to mucus production. If you have a scratchy throat, or dry, irritated nasal cavities, then slice some fresh ginger and put it in a tea strainer. Pour in some boiling water and let the ginger steep for 5 to 10 minutes.

4. Humidify
Remember when I said steam is your friend? Well, this goes for your entire house.

The reason why the influenza virus spreads like wildfire during colder months is because it loves dry environments. And our homes, with the heat running all the time, are really, really dry during the winter. This means that once it gets in, it’s easy for the virus to live longer on doorknobs and other surfaces.

Keep your home as humid as possible during the winter months. And when you get sick, run a humidifier wherever you’re resting. This will also help your nasal cavities feel better.

5. Stifle That Cough
If you have a persistent, dry cough, reach for the honey. Mix a tablespoon of honey with fresh lemon juice and half a cup of hot water. This can also help a sore throat feel better.

Remember though, you should only try to stifle a cough if it’s dry and persistent. If you’re coughing up mucus, then don’t try to stifle it. The more junk you can cough up, the quicker you’ll get better.

6. If You Can Stand It, Reach for the Garlic
So, you might only want to try this one if you’re home alone, but garlic is a well-known natural remedy for colds and flu. Why? Garlic has strong antiseptic and antispasmodic properties. In English, this means that garlic is a natural antibiotic and will help you stop coughing. Its oil will also help open up your respiratory passages and can even help lower your fever. When you’re sick, garlic is good.

To make a soup, chop 3 to 4 cloves of garlic and boil them in one cup of water. After it has boiled, strain off the garlic and drink the broth.

Another perk? You won’t have to worry about vampires until you get better.

7. Drink, Drink, Drink
When you have the flu, you often get a fever. Although you may curse your high temperature, keep in mind that the fever is your body’s way of trying to kill the virus that has made you sick. The hotter you are, the harder it is for that virus to thrive.

Having a fever means that it’s that much easier for you to get dehydrated. You need to drink water and fruit juice constantly. Having enough moisture in your system will also help ensure that your coughs are productive (that is, the liquids can make mucus easier to cough up).

8. Reach for the Mustard
This remedy is going to sound positively medieval, but the Discovery Channel claims it works because mustard is loaded with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, people have been using mustard to help cure colds as far back as Ancient Roman times. I’m willing to give it a try next time I get sick.

Make a mustard plaster by mixing 1 tablespoon of mustard with 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour. Then, mix in one egg white and enough warm water to form a paste.

Next, on a clean handkerchief or cotton cloth (big enough to cover the chest area) smear on the mustard just like you’d smear it on a sandwich. Then, put another piece of cloth on top of it.

Now, rub some olive oil on the patient’s chest and lay the mustard cloth sandwich on top. Leave the wrap on the chest for a few minutes, but make sure you check on it. Believe it or not, mustard burns the skin. After a few minutes take off the wrap and wipe off any mustard residue.

Savvy Tip: If you usually get sick at least once during the winter or spring “flu season,” then stock up on these supplies now so you don’t have to rush out to get them when you, or a family member, gets sick.

Do you have any other natural home remedies for the flu that work for you? Share them in the comments below!

(Photo Credit: Perfecto Insecto)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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Comments

  • http://www.debt-tips.com KDB

    The two remedies that work best for me are zinc lozenges & hydrogen peroxide in the ear. You can get zinc from any pharmacy like CVS or Rite Aid, but the ones from a health food store are more potent & less sugary. A few drops of peroxide in each ear, left in for a few minutes until the bubbling stops, works great too.

    • Heather Levin

      KDB, Thanks for those tips! I’ve never heard the one about peroxide. Should people use this when they have an ear infection, or if they’re just sick with the flu?

      • Jenadair

        Not flu related, but we have kept from getting ear, sinus, and strep infections (which were VERY common in our home) for the last year by gargling hydrogen-peroxide and water 1/3 parts and dripping rubbing alcohol in our ears.

        Regarding the flu GARLIC GARLIC GARLIC and the chicken noodle soup with fresh (not over cooked) onion, carrots, garlic, and parsley, plus sea salt and pepper.

        Best of luck to you all!

  • Sally

    I’m going to bookmark these tips for when I inevitably get sick. I’ve avoided flu so far (just colds and sore throats) but it’s going round where I live so no doubt I’ll get it sooner or later and this article will come in handy!

  • http://www.exergen.com Thermometer

    Good post exploring some ways to care for a cold, beat a flu and reduce a fever. I wonder how many people can brave the garlic remedy?

  • http://firstgenamerican.com First Gen American

    This is a great reminder especially when you’ve taken that last swig of cough syrup already and the pharmacy is closed. I always have lemon, honey and powdered ginger on hand, so it’s nice to remember that I can just go downstairs and have a do it yourself remedy instead. My mom makes the best chicken soup. I don’t think it does anything for my cold except taste good and hydrate me but I still like eating it when I’m sick.

  • http://www.uhnw.com.au Jim Smith

    I get sick every winter – guaranteed. One thing that I find really useful (as a variation on number 1) is eucalyptus – pretty powerful stuff and guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes, but does clean the nose out.

  • Lisa

    I’ve tried all sorts of coughing syrups, believe me, but none of them helps. Even though Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa does not eliminates the cough I like to stick to this chinese syrup I’ve been taking since I was a kid: Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa. My grandfather is chinese, so I guess my mom got the advice from him. I was really surprised when I found that chinese market selling it here in Belgium. It does have a refreshing, soothing, sweetening effect…as long as it lasts…then back to coughing mode.

  • Drill4h2o

    Wild oil of oregano, on a daily basis

    • Drill4h2o

      Check out the web site of hedd wyn essentials, it has a lot of uses.

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  • Jenadair

    Sorry, I forgot to mention that bathing in water hot enough to steam and Tea Tree oil is also VERY helpful. Eucalyptus oil on a cotton pad under the chin is helpful too.

  • Jenadair

    Not flu related, but we have kept from getting ear, sinus, and strep infections (which were VERY common in our home) for the last year by gargling hydrogen-peroxide and water 1/3 parts and dripping rubbing alcohol in our ears.

    Regarding the flu GARLIC GARLIC GARLIC and the chicken noodle soup with fresh (not over cooked) onion, carrots, garlic, and parsley, plus sea salt and pepper.

    Best of luck to you all!

  • Renu Ahuja

    Thanks for really very good tios, i always give green tea with honey in slightly warm water to my kids for cold and it works…..

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