Natural Remedies for Cold, Flu & Illness

I'm just going to start out by saying that I really HATE being sick. However, a cold or flu is our bodies way of telling us to take a break, chill out, and take care of our bodies. The worst thing you can do when you feel like you're getting sick, is to ignore the fact that your body is asking for a break, and attempt to push through it. I used to do this all the time! I hated being sick because that meant I would have to miss a workout, stay at home on the couch all day, which resulted in me feeling unproductive and lazy. So I would workout anyway, which ALWAYS came back to bite me. This will only cause more stress to the body, and prolong whatever your body is flighting. So listen to your body, pump the brakes, and take care of yourself. 

These days, I only go on antibiotics if I absolutely need to, so I put together a guide to fighting off sickness at home! There are so many things you can do in the kitchen to boost your immunity, fight off viruses and infections, and shorten your recovery time. I've done loads of research and tried pretty much every natural remedy out there over the years, so here's what works for me based on my experience. 

  1. Water, rest, & comfort are the obvious ones. But I see so many people ignore the basic things your body needs in order to recover. Getting enough sleep is crucial, and even a couple nights of poor sleep can leave the body weak and unable to fight off illness.The immune system is the body’s form of defense, so if the body is stressed it will only prolong the healing time. So if this means cuddling on the couch all day and going to sleep at 8pm- do it, and don't be ashamed of it. 
  2. Bye inflammatory foods! At the first sign of illness, I remove certain food groups from the diet, and make sure to focus on eating only a healing foods that are easy to digest. I try and remove grains, sugars, dairy, and even natural sweeteners. These foods may suppress immune function and slow the body’s healing process. When you are under the weather, the body needs to focus more on healing than digestion, so think about the foods that are easy on your GI tract. Soup, stew, and bone broth are a few of my favorites!
  3. Bone Broth has a ton of health benefits! A large portion of your immune system is located in your gut so foods like bone broth will give your body a little extra TLC. Bone broth provides essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and other trace minerals that support the immune system and contain healing compounds. Check out my recipe for homemade Soothing Chicken Bone Broth or find quality packaged bone broth at your local health food store.
  4. Apple Cider Vinegar is pretty much the answer to all of your problems. Apple Cider Vinegar contains a unique blend of vitamins, minerals and enzymes + possesses antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. Check out my recipe for Apple Cider Vinegar Lemonade- this is a miracle drink when I'm under the weather. I double up when i'm sick, but otherwise drink this every morning for it's hydrating, digestive and detoxifying benefits! 
  5. Lemon Water throughout the day is a great way to stay hydrated when you're feeling sick. In the first few days after you come down with an illness, it is so crucial that you boost your hydration! Not only is lemon water more enjoyable than plain water, but it helps to boost your immune system by supplying vitamin C, antioxidants, and antibacterial compounds. I drink this everyday and I really feel like it flushes out my system. 
  6. No caffeine! As hard as this is, it's so important to rest when you are sick. Skipping the coffee and caffeinated tea will allow your body to fully rest without stimulating your nervous system. In addition, caffeine is a diuretic- and the last thing you want when fighting a cold is to be dehydrated. Opt for a superfood smoothie, turmeric latte, or bulletproof hot chocolate (steamed almond milk, raw cacao powder, manuka honey, mct oil, ghee, and collagen peptides). 
  7. Epsom Salt Baths are the best! They will help your mind relax and can reduce body aches. Adding a few drops of essential oils such as tea tree, rosemary, thyme, orange, lavender, lemon, or eucalyptus, may also have a soothing effect.
  8. Fermented Foods can re-introduce beneficial bacteria to the gastrointestinal tract- improving gut health, boosting immune system, and even reducing allergies. I recommend including some form of ferments into your diet regularly to keep your gut and immune system in balance. Some of my favorite are raw fermented vegetables, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut. I love the brand Farmhouse Culture, they make all sorts of fermented vegetables as well as probiotic drinks and gut shots that will support your microbiome!
  9. Raw garlic is a natural antibiotic, anti fungal, and antibacterial. I know this sounds really gross, but raw garlic is a natural remedy for fighting cold and flu. Raw garlic is a powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial, antiviral and antibiotic properties and can knock out your cold! I eat a few cloves a day at onset! If you can't stand the strong taste, chop the garlic clove and combine with a spoonful of manuka honey. 
  10. Manuka Honey has antibacterial properties, in addition to soothing your throat and/or cough! Take one teaspoon of Manuka Honey, 3-4 times per day or add to your herbal tea or warm lemon water. It is also great at protecting your immune system, so if someone around you is sick this may help prevent illness!
  11. Ginger and turmeric root are both great for fighting a cold and strengthening your immune system. Both contain powerful antioxidant compounds (curcumin for turmeric, gingerol for ginger) that benefit your overall health. Ginger may also help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat or other inflammation. I love cooking with these roots in a big soup, stew, or bone broth. Sometimes I even throw some in my water!
  12. Curcumin, zinc, Vitamin C, Probiotics and magnesium are some of my favorite supplements I take to support my immune system! 
  13. Coconut Oil is high in lauric acid and is known to support the immune system and defend against viruses. If feeling sick, add a few tablespoons per day in food or melted into hot tea. 
  14. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are known to have beneficial effects on inflammatory conditions. These health-promoting fatty acids­­ are found in cold-water fish such as wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna and trout. Other great sources include walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds. I know a big piece of wild salmon always lifts my spirt! It doesn't hurt that omega-3 fatty acids also contribute to brain health and improve mood.
  15. Colloidal SIlver is a new one for me! However, It is definitely the most powerful on this list. It's an age-old remedy that is highly effective for supporting the body's immune system. It is a liquid supplement that contains pure silver particles suspended in water, often used to treat illnesses. A chiropractor recommended it to me when I had an ear infection over the summer but didn't want to go on antibiotics. I took a teaspoon every morning for 3 days, and poof! It was gone. 
  • Of course, if you're symptoms don't improve over time, or get worse I recommend seeking medical attention.