Summary: In this article you’ll learn about the 8 best home remedies for cold and flu symptoms. Bonus: all of them are backed by actual science!
Oh no, have you woken to that dreaded scratchy throat, sneezing, and coughing? Is it the flu or is cold? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to tell the difference, because influenza and the common cold begin with the same symptoms.
Common Cold versus Flu Symptoms
Mild/Peak Day 2-3
None or Mild (<100F)
Mild to None
Moderate to Severe (102F to 104F)
The Common Cold
Typically, the common cold causes sore throat, nasal congestion and cough. There are about 200 known viruses that causes cold symptoms (1). These viruses primarily affect the nose and throat. Poor hygiene practices such as coughing and sneezing into the air without proper protection, touching things like doorknobs, and being around individuals with poor hand washing habits are easy routes for these viruses to be transmitted (2)
The flu is spread the same way as the common cold, through air droplets from sneezing and coughing and poor hygiene practices. Unlike the cold, the flu presents with higher temperatures and accompanied by chills, headache and body aches. Often the lungs are involved with chest pressure and worsening respiratory problems. Cough, sore throat can be more persistent and can worsen more quickly. Sometimes flu symptoms also include diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms may not be present in every individual, but you can use them as a guideline to determine if you are sick with the common cold or influenza (1)(3).
Want to know how to beat the cold or flu naturally? Try these natural, back-by-science, remedies! (Note: Since the first symptoms of the common cold and the flu are the same you can use the following natural home remedies for both!)
8 Natural Home Remedies for Cold & Flu Symptoms (That are Backed by Science)
Home remedy #1. — Hydration!
Drink water as much as you can. It is the easiest and best flu and cold remedy. Remember how grandma’s chicken soup always seemed to help you feel better? Bone broth is also beneficial for your immune system and reduce inflammation due to glycine and proline (amino acids) (4).
Home remedy #2. — Immune Boosting Vitamins: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, and B vitamins to counteract fatigue and malaise.
I recommend giving your immune system an added boost with the following supplements:
- Vitamin C 1500 – 3000 mg. Vitamin C has the benefit of reducing cold severity and duration (5). I recommend Xcellent C two to four capsules daily until symptoms are relieved. (Referral Code: Anthea 17)
- Vitamin D helps fight infection and autoimmunity. Optimal blood level is between 60 – 80 ng/ml. Most people require 5,000 IU daily of a high-quality vitamin D supplement. However, the requirements may go up (10,000IU) during the winter months. Please see your functional or integrative medicine provider for optimal levels (4). (Referral Code: Anthea 17)
- Zinc 20 mg every 3-4 hours until you feel better. Zinc lozenges help elevate sore throat. It’s been known that this mineral is essential to your immune system and aids in fighting viral infections. (Referral Code: Anthea 17)
- Complex B vitamins help counteract fatigue and malaise during the illness (6). I recommend using B-Complex Plus Pure Encapsulation.
Home remedy #3. — Oregano
Ancient healing traditions have used oregano to treat cold and flu symptoms for thousands of years. This herb is now known for its antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (7). In addition, it helps with upset stomach, nausea and diarrhea.
The adult dosage for P73 oregano oil flu treatment is anywhere between 3 to 20 drops, four times per day. Be sure to check the manufacture’s specific dosing instructions.
I recommend putting 3 to 10 drops of oregano oil in a tablespoon of water; swish it around your mouth and under your tongue for 20 to 30 seconds, then swallow, do this four times per day and continue every day until symptoms subside.
Home remedy #4. — Ginger
Ginger has antimicrobial properties and helps in treatment of nausea or other digestive problems (8). To make an infusion, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger root and infuse for 5 minutes. Drink whenever needed. I add fresh lemon juice for added vitamin C and flavor.
Note: Do not take ginger root for flu treatment if you take medications for high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, or blood-thinners without consulting a healthcare professional
Home remedy #5. — Honey and lemon
Organic Honey and lemon can add flavor to your teas and water for hydration. Honey specifically helps to alleviate sore throat and soothes cough.
Home remedy #6. — Probiotics
Did you know that nearly 80% of your immune system is located in your gut? This is why doctors and scientists consider it to be the gateway to health.
I recommend taking a multi strain probiotic, with at least 25 billion units, that includes Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species of bacteria. This will keep your levels of good gut bacteria up to help fight off infections (9). It is best that you start your probiotic before you become ill. Take as recommended on the manufactures bottle. (Referral Code: Anthea 17)
Home remedy #7. — NAC (N-acetyl L-cysteine)
Research has shown that NAC can reduce the severity and duration of the flu (10). If you have the flu, I recommend taking 600 mg twice a day (as long as you’re normally healthy). You may increase the dosage to 2000 mg for up to one week (11). (Referral Code: Anthea 17)
Home remedy #8. — My favorite remedy for the onset of any cold or flu symptoms. My clients love it!
- 1 cup of organic Apple Cider
- 1 tbsp of fresh ground organic Ginger
- Juice of one organic Lemon
- 1 dropper of Elderberry extract
- 1 dropper of Oregon Grape extract
- 1 dropper of Echinacea extract
- Organic honey to taste (only if you like a little sweetness)
Instructions: Heat the apple cider and add the rest.
Not only does this hot drink warm you up but it tastes good and helps alleviate cold and flu symptoms. I also take the other supplements I mentioned above, but this drink is usually my first go-to to try and knock out my symptoms fast.
(1) Raal A, Volmer D, Souzan R, Hratkevitš S, Kalle R. Complementary Treatment of the Common Cold and Flu with Medicinal Plants – Results from Two Samples of Pharmacy Customers in Estonia. Thomas PG, ed.PLoS ONE. 2013;8(3):e58642. PMCID: 3590151
(2) Colds in children.Paediatrics & Child Health. 2005; 10(8):493-495. PMCID: 2722603
(6) Prasad AS, Beck FW, Snell DC, Kucuk O. Zinc in cancer prevention. Nutr Cancer. 2009; 61(6):879-87. PMID:20155630
(7) Curr Pharm Des. 2008;14(29):3106-19.
(8) Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine.
(9) National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
(10) De Flora S, Grassi C, Carati L. Attenuation of influenza-like symptomatology and
improvement of cell-mediated immunity with long-term N-acetyl cysteine treatment. Eur
Respir J. 1997 Jul;10(7):1535-41
(11) “Beat the flu without a shot” by Mark Stengler, M.D.