It never fails… this is the way the end of every year goes for us:
- November: feel great
- December 1 – 24: feel great
- December 25: go hang around a bunch of sick, coughing people in small, closed-in spaces
- December 26: feel great
- December 27: whole family wakes up at 3:00 a.m. with sore throats, headaches, chills, coughs and generally blechy yucky, achy feeling.
Fortunately, I’m always prepared for colds and flu and this year was no exception! We managed to feel a lot better in two days (one for my son) while others that we know stayed sick with the same stuff for one to two weeks or longer.
I thought I’d do a quick post noting my favorite cold and flu remedies in case it might help some of you suffer a little less this winter.
My number one go-to remedy is Elderberry. Actually, it’s so important, that I’d consider it numbers 1 through 10!
I first encountered elderberry when my daughter was in second grade. She was in a traditional school at the time and came down with a bad case of influenza. It was the sickest she’s ever been in her life. The doctor gave her a prescription for Tamiflu and in fact, prescriptions for the whole family since he said it was almost guaranteed that we would end up with it too.
Well, I gave my daughter a dose of Tamiflu and it made her feel 100 times worse by triggering severe stomach pain and vomiting on top of her other symptoms. I looked it up online and was appalled at some of the potential side affects.
I found an article that claimed that an elderberry extract with the funny name of Sambucol had been proven to be just as effective as Tamiflu for shortening the duration of the flu. AND, it didn’t have the nasty side affects. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try!
My husband found a bottle at our local CVS and I managed to get two doses in my daughter before bedtime. She slept most of the night and woke up feeling remarkably better. I also dosed the family as a preventive measure, and we never caught what she had.
If you’re interested in the nerdy scientific details, you can view this study on Sambucol and influenza from the Journal of International Medical Research. (hint to what it’s about: Sambucol rocks against flu germs!!) I buy our bottles of Sambucol at either the local health food store or CVS or on Amazon.com.
I now make homemade elderberry syrup from our own plants, but you can use dried berries as well. (I have the recipe for that HERE.)
I’d also not want to go through winter without my Favorite Cold & Flu Tincture. It works best when taken at the first sign of a cold or tummy bug, but is also great as far as working in synergy with the Sambucol or elderberry syrup to treat symptoms of the flu. (If you’re planning your garden, now is a great time to order Spilanthes seeds!)
Even after you feel better, you may have a pesky, lingering cough. Often, I have my children take a spoonful of plain, raw honey for this, as needed. For the grownups, Whiskey Rose Cough Remedy works wonders (you can use dried rose petals or other herbs if you wish), and for all ages, homemade cough drops such as Honey & Lemon Sore Throat Drops or Rose Petal Peppermint Drops (try them with ginger or lemon balm tea instead of rose) really help.
Other things you can do:
- run a vaporizer with a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil in it
- homemade chest rubs containing essential oils such as camphor, eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, lavender… one day I’ll get around to posting my recipe, but here’s a great one from Crunchy Betty! (please be careful using vapor rubs on infants or if pregnant or breastfeeding without consulting a doctor first)
- try to stay warm and out of cold, dry air
- take a warm bath with epsom salts and/or sea salts with a pinch of ginger in it (avoid this if dizziness is an issue)
- drink herbal teas such as lemon balm/melissa or olive leaf (two outstanding herbs with anti-viral properties)
- make & enjoy herbal jello (with regular boxed jello OR juice and unflavored gelatin)
- soup & broth! I like to make a broth with one of our home-raised chickens, plenty of onions, carrots, garlic and sage and a bit of astragalus root (a great immune booster – you can buy it HERE)
- This is the hardest one for some people: If you’re sick, stay home and rest! (If possible.)
Those are a few of my favorite tips. I’m sure there are lots more out there! If you have any great ones to share, I’d love to hear them!
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*Important Note* Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have chronic health conditions, or have any questions or concerns about this or any herbal home remedy. Some sources say that pregnant women should avoid elderberry, so speak with your doctor before use. While this site does its best to provide useful information for others, any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk and not a substitute for medical, legal or any other professional advice of any kind. This post may contain affiliate links, which helps support the site and keeps it ad-free. Thank you!