5 Easy At Home Treatments for Cold and Flu – to get you feeling better faster!


Interested in Naturopathic treatments that you can do at home at the first sign of illness?

My Top 6 Strategies to Avoid Getting Sick this Fall and Winter still apply once you become sick, with an asterisk beside exercise (just make sure to keep it light and only do what feels right for your body – i.e. if you have the flu, you won’t be able to exercise!). The following are some of my favorite go-tos for helping nip a cold, flu (and other viral/bacterial illnesses) in the bud:

  1. Warming (or Magic) Socks: You will need 1 pair of 100% cotton socks and 1 pair of 100% wool socks. Before bed, run the cotton socks under warm water and wring out completely. Put these socks on your feet and put the dry wool socks over top, and then go to sleep. Throughout the night you receive the benefits of an alternating hot/cold hydrotherapy treatment. This increases circulation, improves the body’s ability to cope with temperature changes during fever, and strengthens the immune system. It also helps decrease sinus/nasal congestion and headaches. Kids respond really well to this one!
  2. Steam Inhalation: Boil a kettle of water and pour the water into a bowl. Let it cool slightly for 1-2 minutes. Add 2-3 drops of one essential oil (eucalyptus or thyme are 2 great options – these are anti-microbial and decongesting herbs). Place a sheet or towel over the back of your head, and lean over the bowl, creating a tent. Breathe deeply – in through the nose, out through the mouth. Warning: be careful not to burn your skin – work closer to the bowl as tolerated. Most indicated for: respiratory tract infections – both upper and lower, sinus infection, sore throat, cough, and laryngitis.
  3. Neti Pot: Many of my patients are familiar with the Neti-pot. I know it can be a pain to do, but it can make such a tremendous difference for preventing a cold from turning into a sinus infection, especially for those whom are prone to recurrent sinusitis. This is also a great option if your congestion is keeping you up at night and preventing a good nights sleep. With some patients, I suggest certain antimicrobial and decongesting herbs or probiotics to be placed in with the saline rinse for added benefit.
  4. Spicy and Sweet, Immune Boosting Tea: Great for everything from colds, nasal/sinus congestion, flu with fever, sore throat and laryngitis, and upset stomach. The recipe is as follows per 1 cup of water:
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger root – must be fresh, and must be grated or minced with sharp knife, no need to peel it
  • 1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice – not the concentrate type
  • 1 tbsp of honey – local/unpasteurized is best (not to be given to babies < 1 year old)
  • 1/2 – 1 clove of fresh garlic, chopped (if bringing to work – can forgo the garlic, it will still be effective J)
  • A pinch of ground cayenne pepper.

Add water to a pot and bring to a boil – add above ingredients, cover and let simmer on low for 10 minutes. Strain. Let cool slightly before drinking and feel free to eat the garlic pieces if you are up for it! Make larger batches and drink throughout the day. These ingredients are anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and immune boosting. Ginger can reduce chills and aching muscles from the flu, soothe coughs and sore throats, and calm an upset stomach. Cayenne helps your body better deal with a fever, and helps you get rid of phlegm in the lungs and sinuses.

  1. Homemade Herbal Cough Syrup = Honey & Onion Cough Syrup
  • Slice 1 large onion (organic is best) nice and thin into ½ moons and place in a sauce pan
  • Just barely cover the onion slices in thin layer of raw, unpasteurized honey (not to be given to babies < 1 year old)
  • Warm on low heat (a simmer) until onions become soft (too high heat damages the medicinal properties)
  • Store in a jar, keep refrigerated, and take as needed – e.g. 1 tsp-1 tbsp at first sign of sore throat or cough
  • Optional: add 1 clove of chopped up garlic and/or fresh grated ginger to the mix
  • These ingredients are antimicrobial and demulcent – meaning it relaxes the cough reflex and soothes a sore throat.

Of course, there are many more effective and natural treatment options – specific nutrients and herbs, acupuncture, and homeopathics!

For example, most have heard of vitamin C for cold and flu, but what many don’t realize is that you can go much higher with dosing at the first sign of illness to really give your immune system a boost (warning: will cause diarrhea at too high a dose). Are you interested in these further treatments?

Or are you someone who feels like you catch everything going around and/or have a hard time fighting off infections? You may need extra support.

As a Naturopathic Doctor, I prescribe individualized treatment plans to strengthen patients’ immune systems and help them recover quicker from cold, flus, and other viral and bacterial illnesses with the use of specific nutrients and supplementation, herbs, acupuncture, and homeopathics, among other therapies.

Book an appointment today and lets begin building your at home medicine cabinet!

In health,

Dr. Willow