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It's that time of year again! No, not holiday season..cold and flu season! STEAK 954 is shaking up a special "Remedy" martini in the hopes of helping you avoid that impending cold. This smooth elixer includes chamomile tea, Grey Goose, agave nectar, honey lemon ginger syrup, and lemon juice.


  • 1 Ounce Chamomile Tea
  • .5 Ounce Agave Nectar
  • .25 Ounce Honey Lemon Ginger Syrup
  • .25 Ounce Lemon Juice
  • 2 Mint Leaves
  • 2 Ounces Grey Goose


Calories Per Serving271

Folate equivalent (total)4µg1%

Riboflavin (B2)0.2mg13.6%

Helpful herbs: Stay ahead of this year’s cold, Covid, flu season with home remedies

Although there is no cure for the common cold or flu, there are a lot of herbs that have been used over millennia to mitigate the symptoms. I have chosen herbs to share here that grow well in our area and are easy to get started.

You will gain the most benefit from herbs when consuming as an herbal tea if you make an infusion or decoction. An infusion is made by bringing water just to the boiling point, pouring over the aerial parts of the herb and letting this steep covered for 30 minutes to overnight depending on the herb. Mints are best when hot infusion is steeped no more than 30 minutes to prevent bringing out bitterness.

A decoction is made by bringing roots, seeds, barks and/or berries just to a boil, then covering and simmering for an hour. To cold infuse any herbal parts place a handful of the herb in a glass quart jar, fill with water, cover, give a good shake and let steep four hours or more, then strain and refrigerate what you do not drink. One tablespoon of herb per cup of water is a good ratio.

Lemon balm, ginger, garlic, cayenne, elderberry, spearmint, holy basil aka Tulsi, honeysuckle flowers and echinacea are some herbs beneficial at the onset of colds and flu to help ward off symptoms. A perennial herb native to Southeast Asia and grown as a leaf vegetable, Houttuyynia cordata also known as chameleon plant has anti-viral properties and has a long history of use to relieve viral infection and inflammation.

This story appears in the Nov./Dec. 2020 issue of Alamance Living magazine, the publication's last issue. To read more stories like this, subscribe to the Times-News newspaper to support local journalism .

Chameleon plant is easy to grow in our area and is best to plant in its own space to prevent its underground root system from invading other&rsquos space. Another plant in the same category as Houttuyynia is Andrographis paniculata, which has traditionally been used for flus, fevers, and inflammation. Andrographis can be grown in our area from seed as an annual. Planted in early spring, the aerial parts are ready to be harvested in the fall before the first frost.

Garlic, horseradish roots, elecampane roots, horehound aerial parts, holy basil, mullein leaves of first year or flowers of second year thoroughly dried and violet leaves and flowers help relieve congestion and congested coughs. Hot holy basil tea with ginger and honey help move stuck mucus and ease a sore throat.

Garlic elixir, or oxymel, combines the nutritive and healing benefits of apple cider vinegar, honey, and garlic. To make garlic elixir stick the sharp point of a knife in each garlic clove (outer peel removed however thin inner peel is ok to leave on) and let sit a few minutes to activate the garlic&rsquos allicin. Fill a glass quart jar with the garlic cloves leaving room at the top for the liquid to cover all cloves.

Combine apple cider vinegar and raw honey in equal parts, stir well, pour over garlic. Use a plastic lid because vinegar can cause metal lids to rust. Keep in a dark place for six weeks gently shaking once a day to allow the garlic to stay suspended.

After 6 weeks, strain, compost the garlic cloves and pour the liquid into glass jars, cap, label with ingredients and the date. Store in a cool spot where the jar will be in the dark. Consume 1 teaspoon as needed at onset or during a virus. Thyme elixir can be made by replacing garlic with thyme and only filling jar halfway with thyme leaves and flowers.

Gargling with sage, thyme, then chamomile infusions in any order at least three times a day can bring faster relief and disinfect the mouth and throat. Sitting over a pot of steaming infusion of spearmint, peppermint, eucalyptus or thyme with a towel over your head to capture the vapors and inhaling is a great way to bring relief from congestion.

Herbs beneficial to relieving sore throat and/or dry coughs include marshmallow, licorice (not a common garden plant however important to include) and honey, all good demulcents. English plantain leaves which are common in our area are helpful for relieving dry cough and other respiratory symptoms and are also helpful for spasmodic coughs. Plantain is a good herb to juice fresh and consume.

A good tea blend for relieving dry cough is plantain and lemon balm hot infusion cooled and combined with cold infusion of marshmallow leaves, flowers and/or roots. At the first sign of a cold you can finely chop horehound leaves, mix with honey and eat to relieve sore throat and cough.

Spasmodic coughs (fits of coughing) can be relieved with hot thyme (Thymus vulgaris) tea from the aerial parts. Others that help relieve spasmodic coughs are hot infusions of sage or rose as astringents, California poppy and/or wild cherry bark as antispasmodics.

Elecampane root (harvested second or third year before they become woody and lose beneficial properties) is especially helpful for relieving upper respiratory issues. This herb has demulcent, antitussive and expectorant activity that helps relieve irritable yet productive coughing.

If a fever is becoming too high or bringing too much discomfort, elderflower, boneset leaves and flowers, or yarrow leaves and flowers are good for bringing relief.

Yarrow, boneset and lemon balm help relieve the aches and pains of cold or flu.

Cleavers (Galium aparine), a premier herb for the lymphatic system, helps relieve swollen lymph nodes. Cleavers is best as a cold infusion. Hot water will destroy beneficial properties.

One of my personal favorites is marshmallow (Althaea officinalis). Marshmallow is a soothing demulcent to mucus membranes throughout the body, from the throat to the respiratory, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. Marshmallow leaves, roots and early flowers contain polysaccharides that have antitussive, mucilaginous and antibacterial properties. The antitussive properties help to relieve and suppress a dry cough and the mucilage relieves and protects an inflamed throat.

It is best to make a cold infusion of fresh or dried marshmallow leaves and/or flowers, or a cold decoction of the dried roots to preserve the mucilaginous properties.

Another personal favorite is the dried calyxes of Roselle sabdariffa, aka red hibiscus, that have a high content of vitamin C. I find the cold infused tea to be most refreshing and rehydrating and often make an overnight cold infusion of the dried calyxes combined with lemon verbena and smaller amounts of peppermint and even smaller amount of cardamom for a delicious punch. Lemon balm or lemongrass are also good combinations. The cold infusion preserves the high vitamin C content.

Reishi mushrooms, elderberry, astragalus root, zinc, vitamins D3 and C are good for enhancing our immune system to help ward off colds and flus when we are exposed and for gaining strength as we recover if a virus does take hold. Astragalus is best avoided during a viral episode.

These are some of the more effective herbal remedies used over the ages to tackle the perennial health problems that winter brings. But whatever approach you take this cold and flu season, stay well and stay positive as you and your family enjoy what the season brings.

Henrietta Cummings is an herbalist and teacher in eastern Randolph County where she grows many of the herbs that go into her tinctures, elixirs, salves and creams. She cultivates those herbs for her business, Edge of the World Farm, near Siler City. She has been studying herbs for well over 30 years.

Relief recipes

Pine needle salve &ndash chest rub (see two methods for infusing oil)

Set out clean glass jars or tins and lids to hold the salve

For each cup of pine needle infused oil, add ¼ cup of grated beeswax

Heat on low until wax is completely melted (watch carefully and stir with non-metal utensil)

When melted, put some on a metal spoon and place in freezer for a minute or two, if too soft add more beeswax and melt if too hard, add more infused oil and mix well

Remove from heat and add one or more of the following essential oils: eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint

Pour into jars or tins and let cool

Put lids on tight, label and store in a cool, dark place.

Method 1 -- Solar-infused oil:

Fill glass jar with chopped dried herb, cover with organic olive oil and tight-fitting lid

Place jar in warm sunny place and let macerate for two to three weeks, stirring once a day with non-metal, bamboo chopsticks work well

After two to three weeks, strain oil through layers of cheesecloth

Pour into clean jar, label and cover with tight-fitting lid

Method 2 -- Double boiler infused oil:

Put herbs and organic olive oil in double boiler and simmer on low &ndash beneficial properties can be lost if oil becomes too hot

Simmer at least one hour stirring and ensuring oil does not overheat

Strain through layers of cheesecloth and pour into clean jar, label, and cover

Horehound throat lozenges

Four ounces fresh horehound leaves (optionally add ½ teaspoon aniseed and/or ½ teaspoon cardamom)

Bring slowly to a boil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes

Strain though a fine filter

Dissolve one cup of honey or two cups of cane sugar in the hot liquid

Bring back to a low boil over medium heat and cook until syrup hardens when you put drops in cold water, stirring often

Pour into a tray lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper and score when partially cooled

Let cool and harden completely then store in wax paper

Mushroom broth &ndash antiviral and supports immune system

Combine a handful of all or any of dried reishi, shiitake (stems and/or caps), maiitake mushrooms in one quart of water.

Bring slowly to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered 1 hour or more.

Strain and drink as a warm broth or cool and refrigerate and use in finishing sauces for stir fry, cooking rice, etc. or warm and drink.

Henrietta Cummings is an herbalist and teacher in eastern Randolph County where she grows many of the herbs that go into her tinctures, elixirs, salves and creams. She cultivates those herbs for her business, Edge of the World Farm, near Siler City. She has been studying herbs for over 30 years.


This means the tissues in your nose have swollen up, so the mucus in your nose can't move through your nasal passages as quickly as usual.

It becomes thicker, gloopy, and cloudy because of low moisture levels.

If you cough up white phlegm it may mean you have upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold, or an allergy, which can cause congested sinuses.

If this has a thick consistency and is quite dark, it suggests you have a viral or bacterial infection.

This could be in your sinuses, or in your lower respiratory tract, if you are coughing it up from the lungs.

The dark yellow, and even green colour occurs when white blood cells rush in to fight infection.

Mucus protects humans by keeping the lungs, airways and nasal passages moist, and by carrying antibodies and immune cells

'In healthy people, yellow and green secretions with a cough are usually triggered by a viral infection.' explains Dr Ash Husain, Consultant Chest Physician at Spire Bushey Hospital in Hertfordshire.


Excess mucus signals there is inflammation, most likely due to an allergy or infection.

Inflammation irritates the nasal lining and dilates the blood vessels there – leading to a runny nose.

What usually happens is that the cilia (tiny hair-like structures on the cells that line the nose) sweep mucus away towards the back of the throat and we swallow it without realising.

But in cold weather, these cells act more slowly, or even become paralysed, which is why your nose runs.

However clear, runny mucus is a good sign because it means your nasal passages aren't fighting off a cold.

It also means the water, antibodies, enzymes and protein and dissolved salts that make up mucus, can get on with their job – keeping your nasal passages moist.

'In smokers with chronic lung disease, producing more than the usual amount of phlegm, with increased thickness, and a change in colour to yellow or green, suggests an infection.' See your doctor, as you may need antibiotics.'

This can be a sign you have fluid on the lungs (a condition called pulmonary oedema) – people suffering from this bring up a very distinctive frothy pink phlegm.

'This is the most important colour in terms of concern', says Dr Husain.

'If your phlegm is rusty or blood stained you should see a healthcare professional urgently.'

Bright red blood may be caused by coughing, or having a chest infection. It often happens in older people who smoke.

However a slight blood-staining of mucus isn't usually a concern if you've got a cold or bronchitis.

It can be caused by irritation and inflammation and continual blowing of your nose.

If you don't have a cold, however, then it's wise to seek medical advice, especially if you have other symptoms such as persistent cough, weight loss or fever.

Red, brown and black mucus can be caused by smoking, according to the Guernsey-based GP

You're probably more likely to have this if you smoke, especially if you're a heavy smoker.

Brown coloured mucus can be caused by dried blood from nose bleeds, having a cold, or picking your nose.

It can also be triggered by air pollution and breathing in smoke from a fire.

Black mucus can be caused by breathing in dark-coloured dirt or dust. Smoking can also cause black streaks in your mucus.

As a general rule, the darker the phlegm, the more likely you are to have something serious going on.

This could be fungal or bacterial pneumonia, or a lung disease associated with long-term inhalation of irritants and/or dust.

In this case, your first step should be to see your GP.


If the infection is viral then antibiotics won't help – they are only prescribed if a bacterial infection is likely (based on examination and, on occasions, an analysis of phlegm by culturing it).

For a bog standard cold, mild bronchitis or sinusitis, I recommend Pelargonium.

This is a traditional herbal remedy – and I firmly believe it's the most effective, natural treatment available to help fight sore throats, coughs and runny noses.

Trials suggest it stops some types of cold and flu virus replicating by increasing the rate at which the cilia (the nose hairs) move – helping to expel mucus.

It also blocks the landing sites that bacteria need to stick to cell walls. This means they are more easily brought up as mucus is cleared from the airways.

Pelargonium also stimulates the action of immune cells (white blood cells, scavenging macrophages, natural killer cells) that engulf and kill bacteria and viruses.

Try Pelargonium Cold Relief by Healthspan is a 10 day course, for £14.45.

(Always check with your GP before taking herbal or other medicines alongside your prescription drugs.)

Ibuprofen can reduce aching and fever, and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.

Also, inhale decongestant oils (such as Olbas) and use a saline nasal rinse like Sterimar to ease a blocked nose and help loosen phlegm.

Homemade Cough Syrup Ingredients

You&rsquoll need a few simple ingredients to make this homemade cough syrup and sore throat soother. I bet you have most of the items in your spice cabinet already &ndash I only had to buy the fresh lemon juice.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar (I recommend Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar for this homemade cough syrup recipe)
  • Lemon Juice
  • Ground Ginger
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Honey
  • Water

You&rsquoll also need some measuring teaspoons, tablespoons, measuring cup, and a glass jar with a lid for storage.

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, don&rsquot forget to scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

15 Ways to Get Rid of Cold Symptoms

As soon as cold symptoms hit, you want to get rid of them quickly. It’s hard to focus on the things you love to do when your nose feels stuffy and runny, you can’t stop sneezing, and your throat feels scratchy.

Maybe you’ve heard your doctor, family member, or friend say that there is no cure for the common cold. Unfortunately, they’re correct. Over 200 viruses can cause the common cold, but it’s most commonly caused by a group of viruses known as rhinoviruses. 1

To date, there are no antiviral medications that can fight the viruses that cause the common cold. Also, you can’t treat the common cold with antibiotics as these are only used to treat infections caused by bacteria.

The good news? You don’t need to suffer with the symptoms while your body fights off the cold virus. Over-the-counter medicines like DayQuil SEVERE and NyQuil SEVERE can help relieve your toughest cold symptoms.

15 Tips to Get Rid of Cold Symptoms

Staying hydrated with lots of fluids can thin your mucus and make it easier for you to drain it from your nose and sinuses. 2 Fluids also help to keep the mucous membranes lubricated, which means that you can help eliminate that feeling of dryness in your nose. 3

Fluids are great, but warm drinks are soothing and make you comfortable when you have a cold. Medicated hot drinks offer relief for your cough and sore-throat symptoms by soothing the inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat. 4 For relief of cold symptoms like nasal congestion, sore throat, cough, and more, dissolve a packet of Vicks FluTherapy SEVERE Day-Time into a glass of 8 oz. hot water, stir, and sip while hot, within 10-15 minutes.

Sleep is essential for your body to rest and heal. Research shows that when you’re sleeping, your body makes proteins called cytokines, which are important for fighting infection and inflammation. 5

Do your best to adjust your sleep schedule to get that extra rest that will help your body fight off the cold virus.

Keep stress at bay so your body can focus on keeping your immune system in check. Daily meditation breaks can ease stress and help you stay calm: Just close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a few minutes (or longer if you can swing it!).

Non-medicated nasal saline sprays like Sinex Saline Ultra Fine Nasal Mist can help to relieve congestion from a cold.

A saline nasal spray helps to keep nasal passages open by washing out any thick or dried mucus resulting in a more fluid mucus that can drain faster.

You can use a neti pot to rinse particles or mucus from your nose. A neti pot is specially designed to help you flush out mucus. To use it, bend your head sideways over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril, and then pour a saltwater solution into your upper nostril and let the water drain down the lower nose. 6 You can also use other devices such as squeeze bottles and pressurized canisters in place of a neti pot.

You can gargle with water containing salt to get relief for a sore throat from a cold. The recommended measurement is ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water. 7 The high-salt barrier can pull out a lot of fluids from the tissues in your throat. 7

Use a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer in your bedroom to add moisture back into the air while you sleep. Dry air may further cause irritation inside nose and throat. 8

The next time you have a cold that gives you a stuffy nose, try sitting in the bathroom with a warm shower running. You can also breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water. Inhaling warm (not hot) steam can make the mucus thinner, 2 which will help your mucus drain better.

When you feel under the weather, it’s hard to feel better your cold won’t let the cough symptoms quit.

Vicks VapoRub has helped relieve coughs for over 125 years. Rub it on your throat and chest and breathe in the medicated vapors with the familiar scents of eucalyptus, menthol, and camphor to help relieve your cough from a cold.

When you lie horizontally, your mucus will be at a standstill. This can result in congestion and cough. When you go to bed, try propping your head up with pillows to help gravity work better for you. 9 Sleeping at a sloped angle allows the fluid in your sinuses to keep flowing to avoid congestion and other cold symptoms.

It’s just as important to keep the virus from spreading to your friends and family as it is to relieve your own symptoms. Make sure to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and work. Be especially mindful to do so during cold and flu season, or whenever someone around you is sick. Better yet?

Stay home from work and avoid spreading the cold virus to those around you. 13

Foods with vitamin C can help to maintain your immune system and get you back to normal quicker. 10 Examples of foods that have vitamin C include fruits like oranges, lemons, strawberries, red peppers, mangoes, broccoli, and other fruits and vegetables. 10

When you have a cold, you should target any treatment that reduces inflammation. Eat lots of vegetables, herbs, and spices. Examples of vegetables that can support your immune system are red bell peppers and broccoli. 10 Certain spices, for example, curry, garlic, and astragalus are known for treating inflammation. 11–12

Non-prescription medicine can help ease your cold symptoms. Although Vicks products cannot cure a cold, they can help you feel better. NyQuil Cold & Flu and DayQuil Cold & Flu are both good options since they contain a pain reliever/fever reducer and cough suppressant. If you’re suffering from additional symptoms, try NyQuil SEVERE Cold & Flu, which also contains a nasal decongestant and DayQuil SEVERE Cold & Flu, which contains an expectorant to help loosen phlegm (mucus) and thin bronchial secretions to make coughs more productive.

Although there is no cure for the common cold, these 15 tips to get rid of a cold can alleviate your symptoms and allow you to get back to your routine activities soon.

Understanding a Common Cold Virus. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Published May 22, 2015. Accessed June 12, 2020. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/understanding-common-cold-virus

Home Remedies: Self-help for sinusitis. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/. Accessed June 16, 2020. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/home-remedies-self-help-for-sinusitis/

In-Depth Reports - Penn State Hershey Medical Center - Sinusitis - Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Accessed June 16, 2020. http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productid=10&pid=10&gid=000062

How does drinking hot liquids help a cold or the flu? Accessed June 16, 2020. https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/qa/how-does-drinking-hot-liquids-help-a-cold-or-the-flu

Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflüg Arch - Eur J Physiol. 2012463(1):121-137. doi:10.1007/s00424-011-1044-0

Can a neti pot relieve your cold and sinus symptoms? Mayo Clinic. Accessed June 12, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/expert-answers/neti-pot/faq-20058305

Does Gargling Wlth Salt Water Ease a Sore Throat? WebMD. Accessed June 12, 2020. https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/features/does-gargling-wlth-salt-water-ease-a-sore-throat

How to Use a Humidifier for Sinus the Right Way | Everyday Health. EverydayHealth.com. Accessed June 16, 2020. https://www.everydayhealth.com/ear-nose-throat/humidifier-for-sinusitis.aspx

6 Ways to Sleep Soundly When You Have a Cold, a Cough, or the Flu. Sleep.org. Accessed June 13, 2020. https://www.sleep.org/articles/6-ways-sleep-off-cold/

Foods To Boost the Immune System. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Accessed June 17, 2020. https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/foods-boost-immune-system

Miller LG. Herbal Medicinals: Selected Clinical Considerations Focusing on Known or Potential Drug-Herb Interactions. Arch Intern Med. 1998158(20):2200-2211. doi:10.1001/archinte.158.20.2200

Sandjo LP, Zingue S, Dos Santos Nascimento MV, et al. Cytotoxicity, antiprotozoal, and anti-inflammatory activities of eight curry powders and comparison of their UPLC-ESI-QTOF-MS chemical profiles. J Sci Food Agric. 201999(6):2987-2997. doi:10.1002/jsfa.9512

How to Use Essential Oils During Cold and Flu Season—and the Best Ones to Buy

These herbal scents have antibacterial and antiviral properties, and they may help relieve symptoms like congestion and aches.

Natural remedies for cold and flu are always a popular topic, considering that there’s no real cure for either ailment. So as the temperature drops and people around you start sniffling, you may be wondering what you can do this season to protect yourself from catching whatever’s going around—or to feel better faster if you do get sick.

Using essential oils may be a part of that plan, says Amanda Lattin, chair of aromatherapy at the American College of Healthcare Sciences. (Let’s be clear: So is getting your flu shot, eating plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and veggies, and practicing common-sense hand hygiene and germ-prevention strategies.) Studies have shown that certain essential oils can kill bacteria, and some have even been tested against influenza and other viruses. Plus, Lattin adds, they can be helpful in relieving cold and flu symptoms.

“Some have been shown in research to limit the proliferation of certain viruses—but paired with their antibacterial action, that makes them really useful tools,” says Lattin. “That's because sometimes after a viral infection like the flu, you get a secondary bacterial infection, so it’s nice that there’s both of these therapeutic actions.”

Much of this research has been done on eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, lemon, tea tree, and cinnamon bark essential oils, Lattin says. But she stresses that most of the antibacterial and antiviral studies have been done in a lab setting—and there’s still not a lot of strong evidence to show exactly how these properties translate to real-life benefits.

“More research is needed to know exactly the dosage and duration and the best use for these situations,” says Lattin. “But luckily, essential oils have other therapeutic properties, so we can still use them and benefit from them even if we don’t know exactly how to cure pneumonia or influenza with them.”

So what do those therapeutic properties include? Some essential oils, like eucalyptus, can act as an expectorant and an anti-mucolytic—which means they can help dry up mucus and expel it from the respiratory system. “They can also lower inflammation, which happens very frequently during these types of infections, and they help stimulate our immune system,” says Lattin.

Studies also suggest that breathing in essential oils or applying them to your skin may help with other cold-and-flu-related ailments, like headaches and general aches and pains. “And we suspect that it may help you recover more quickly from your illness," says Lattin, "although that’s not something we can definitively say."

Lattin recommends combining four to six drops of various essential oils into a bowl with six to eight cups of boiling water, and then breathing in the steam for five to 10 minutes. (Be careful not to get too close or breathe in steam so hot that it burns your face or nasal passages.) “This is safe for most people unless they have a respiratory condition such as asthma, in which case they’d want to talk to their health care provider first,” says Lattin.

You can also use a diffuser to disperse essential oil vapors into a room where you’re resting. Lattin recommends doing this for half-hour intervals two to three times a day.

Applying essential oils to the throat or chest area can also help reduce cold or flu symptoms—but since they can be irritating to the skin if they’re not diluted properly, Lattin suggests purchasing an already mixed product (like a lotion containing essential oils) or having a professional prepare a product for you.

Bryan Combs, a certified nurse practitioner at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing, agrees that essential oils can be part of a holistic plan for preventing or treating the common cold or influenza. “We have patients ask about alternative therapies quite a bit during cold and flu season, and aromatherapy is definitely one of them,” he says.

“I think essential oils can help with treating some symptoms, including aches and pains or coughing and congestion, especially if you’re the type of person who believes in it,” Combs says. “And if you’re able to decrease some of your symptoms and feel a little bit better, the body is going to be in a better state to heal itself.”

Combs tells patients that he supports the use of essential oils, “with the understanding that it’s probably not going to be the only thing they need to get better,” he says. It’s also important to follow all instructions for use and proper dilution, he adds, and to discontinue use if a product causes irritation or worsening of symptoms.

So what essential oil products should you try? For starters, look for oils that contain the plant’s Latin name, the country of origin, and the date of production on the label, says Lattin. Since the supplement industry is loosely regulated, it’s important to go with a brand that’s reputable and transparent about its ingredients and practices.

You can find essential oils in holistic health stores or buy them directly from a licensed aromatherapist. For online shoppers, here are some of the top-rated products on Amazon from trusted brands.

Natural Cough & Cold Remedies

I’ll be touching on this in another blog post soon but what I really want to point out is that the best course of action is always prevention keep your immune system high to reduce your chances of getting sick!

To naturally prevent coughs and colds during the season we:

  • Make homemade fire cider ,
  • Snack on gut-boosting gummies
  • Implement proper nutrition and protein intake
  • Dose up on fermented foods

If you do end up with a bit of a cough or cold, make use of easy homemade cough drops , DIY shower melts to reduce congestion and electrolyte popsicles etc.

It’s never fun getting sick as a mom. But what I’ve experienced is that while taking precautions to stay healthy doesn’t mean you NEVER Get sick it tends to mean you don’t get as sick. So, I’ll take it.

1. Lemon

Of all the home remedies for cold and flu lemon must be the most popular. From honey to ginger tea, they all make great home remedies for cold and flu mixed with lemons.

Since it’s so acidic, it renders the mucous membranes unfit for bacteria and viruses. Lemon oil contains antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

The oil also acts as an expectorant. Follow these steps to make a flu-fighting fruit drink:

  • Place 1 chopped lemon — skin, pulp, and all — into 1 cup boiling water
  • While the lemon steeps, inhale the steam for 5 minutes
  • Strain, add honey (to taste), and enjoy
  • Drink hot lemonade three to four times a day throughout your illness

2. Milk and Turmeric

Besides ginger tea or masala chai, warm milk and turmeric mixture ranks among the top of natural cold remedies. Turmeric and milk are also healthy ingredients, which promote healthy living.

If you’ve into Ayurvedic home remedies for cold and cough, this mixture is right up your alley.

3. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an effective antimicrobial agent. In fact, it produces 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body. Thus killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

In the United States, the late winter average vitamin D level is only about 15-18 ng/ml, which is a serious deficiency state. It’s estimated over 95% of U.S. senior citizens may be deficient, along with 85% of the American public.

4. The Pillow Prop

Make gravity work in your favor to help ease the nasal pressure. “Raising your head when congested helps to drain sinus passages,” says Dr. Neil Schachter. Using an extra pillow or two to lift your upper body can keep things moving in the right direction.

5. Orange Juice

Do you crave orange juice when you’re sick? That’s because it’s full of vitamin C, which may help shorten a cold’s duration and work as a natural decongestant.

Aim for 500 mg of vitamin C four times a day as a part of your home remedies for cold and flu. A cup of OJ has 124 mg. Other good sources of vitamin C include strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli.

6. Ginger Tea

Drink a cup of ginger tea because it’s one the effective home remedies for cold and flu. Ginger helps block the production of substances causing bronchial congestion and stuffiness.

Additionally, it contains compounds called gingerols, which are natural cough suppressants.

7. Peppermint

Peppermint is a valuable expectorant in the treatment of bronchitis, colds, and flu. It reduces fevers by inducing sweating and cooling the body.

Use it as a painkiller for headaches and some migraines. It is also a soothing decongestant and makes an effective inhalation for clearing blocked sinuses.

8. Camphor, Eucalyptus, and Menthol

One of the common home remedies for cold and flu is a combination of camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol. Camphor is often as topical pain relievers and muscle ache creams.

Eucalyptus leaf or oil is used both as a food flavoring and in many medicinal applications. Eucalyptus can help treat breathing problems, pain and inflammation, burns and ulcers, and even cancer.

Menthol is a flavoring in lozenges for sore throats and coughs or as a soothing ingredient in anti-itch creams and medications for the mouth. The three are often combined in OTC ointments for nasal congestion and cough suppression (NIH, 2012).

9. Spice Up Your Cooking

Go with your instincts here because any flavor which provokes a reaction deep in your chest is one that can (according to the wives of yore) shift a nasty cold or flu. Add chilies, cayenne pepper, ginger, cloves, and horseradish liberally to anything you rustle up.

Why eat a turkey and tomato sandwich when you can sprinkle on some chilies and cloves to beat the flu while eating. For more palatable options, try boiling water with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and cloves (add whiskey or bourbon if you’re at the tail end of your flu and having trouble getting to sleep).

You can also mix together cider vinegar, honey, cayenne pepper and ginger into your cough syrup. Finally, homemade chicken soup (preferably cooked with love by your mother) is the perfect treatment for ailments of both body and soul.

10. Garlic

A powerhouse natural antibiotic, antifungal, and antibacterial, garlic can tackle almost any illness. For the most potent effect, finely mince 1-2 cloves of garlic and float in a small glass of water.

Drink quickly — if you are sick enough, you won’t even notice the taste.

Note: Pregnant women should not take more than 1 clove of garlic medicinally per day and children often resist this remedy.

11. Green Tea

Green tea has many properties to help keep you in tip-top shape and better prepared to ward off cold and flu bugs. The jury is out on how many cups of tea are optimal but two to three per day are often recommended.

If you do come down with cold or flu symptoms (or feel them coming on), consider 3-4 cups of green tea per day. This will help rid your body of those nasty bugs and give your body’s defenses an extra jolt.

12. Echinacea (Goldenseal)

Echinacea (E. angustifolia, Purpurea, and pallida) is the best-researched herb for enhancing immune defenses to help prevent respiratory tract infections. In fact, several well-designed studies support the use of this herb for the treatment of acute viral upper respiratory infections.

A controversial 2005 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, on the other hand, concluded that extracts of the E. angustifolia root didn’t significantly affect viral infections. But, the American Botanical Council noted the dosage used in the study was lower than the amount recommended by WHO, as well as the Canadian Natural Health Products Directorate.

Two more recent meta-analyses concluded that echinacea did reduce the duration and incidence of the common cold, though.

What is Echinacea? They are also called coneflowers which are commonly found in the wild or in a garden landscape. They are showy flowers with several yellow, pink, or white petals around a spiky center. Learn more here.

13. Gargle

Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring temporary relief. So try a teaspoon of salt dissolved in warm water, four times daily.

To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle, such as tea, which contains tannins, to tighten the membranes. Or use a thick, viscous gargle made with honey, sage and cayenne pepper all of which are slightly antiseptic.

Steep fresh sage leaves with the cayenne in 100 ml of just boiled water for 10 minutes. Then add about 50 ml of honey.

You can also add a pinch of salt and some cider vinegar to help loosen phlegm. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before gargling, though.

14. Chicken Soup

The chicken soup is one of the time-honored home remedies for cold and flu that is tried and tested, by far. It stops certain white blood cells from congregating and causing inflammation, thus preventing large amounts of mucus from being produced.

The hot soup also thins the mucus. Adding freshly chopped garlic to your soup gives the system a powerful boost, too.

While garlic kills germs outright, it also appears to stimulate the release of natural killer cells. They are part of the immune system’s arsenal of germ-fighters.

Spike your soup with red (chili) pepper flakes to increase the broth’s decongestant power as well.

15. Honey

A hacking cough can keep you and every other household member up all night so, keep the peace with honey. Honey is part of the long history in traditional Chinese medicine for cough and cold, indeed.

It’s a simple enough recipe: Mix 1 tablespoon honey into 1 cup hot water, stir well and enjoy. From this idea, you can make more homemade cold remedies with honey.

Honey acts as a natural expectorant, promoting the flow of mucus. You may also squeeze some lemon in if you want a little tartness.

16. Mushrooms

No, not the kind favored by Harold and Kumar, but the white button mushrooms (90% of the ‘shrooms eaten in the United States) which contain powerful immunity-boosting effects. This is according to two studies from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

These fabulous fungi increase the production of antiviral proteins which destroys or deactivate the foreign invaders that make you sick.

17. Oatmeal

Whole grains, like oatmeal, contain selenium, zinc, and beta-glucan to help support your immune system and fend off cold and flu infections.

You can also add a generous dollop of yogurt because its probiotics may help keep the virus from settling into your respiratory system.

18. Humidify Your Home

Ever wonder why the flu tends to strike in the colder months? Part of the reason is your furnace.

Artificial heat lowers humidity, creating an environment that allows the influenza virus to thrive. (Colder outside air also pushes people together in confined indoor spaces, making it easier for the flu bug to spread).

Adding some moisture to the air in your home during the winter with a warm- or cool-mist humidifier may not only help prevent the spread of flu, but it may also make you feel more comfortable if you do get it.

19. Make a Tent

Need a quick way to open clogged airways? Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove it from the heat. Then drape a towel over your head and close your eyes.

Lean over the water under the “tent,” breathing deeply through your nose for 30 seconds. Repeat this as often as necessary to ease congestion.

David Kiefer, MD, clinical instructor of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, recommends adding a drop or two of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to the water for extra phlegm-busting power.

20. Moisten Your Brow

A change in temperature can work wonders for an aching head, and it’s best to choose the temperature that most appeals to your body. If you’re cold and shivering, then soak a compress in hot water and hold it to your temple.

A bag of frozen peas also works well for those who are burning up.

21. Oregano Oil

I wish I can remember who introduced me to oil of oregano, but this stuff works great for me this flu season. That’s because the oil of oregano is rich in vitamins and minerals which help reduce pain and inflammation.

The second you start feeling run down, you’ll want to pop oil of oregano pills twice a day between meals. I normally get a couple of bad illnesses during the winter. This time around, I managed to kick the sick in just a few days, instead of battling flu symptoms for a week.

22. No Junk Food

When you have a cold or flu your body is under a lot of stress, fighting the viral infection. Big, heavy meals take vital energy to digest — resources which your body can use to fight the infections.

An old saying states “Feed a cold and starve a fever,” but the better saying should be “Starve a cold and starve a fever.”

23. Rinse Out Your Nose

A homemade nose-clearing method that goes beyond the humble tissue may be a little involved. But if you’re nasally-blocked and don’t want to step outside, then you can try clearing your nose with salt and baking soda mixture.

Mix a teaspoon of salt and baking soda with a glass of water and squirt the mixture up your nose. You need a syringe and pickling/canning salt (not simple table salt) to do this effectively, though.

It’s important not to double dip the syringe and there are further instructions here. Homemade nasal irrigation won’t appeal to everyone but should work for true homemade-remedy fans.

24. American Ginseng Root

North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) has long been used for its medicinal properties. This herb offers different effects from its Siberian and Asian cousins, though.

American ginseng is traditionally used for a wide variety of ailments, too. In addition to treating cold and flu, this form of ginseng can relieve stress, improve digestion, boost the immune system, and enhance memory.

It can even combat the effects of HIV/AIDS and cancer, manage diabetes, and even prevent signs of aging. They also come in powdered supplements, oils, and extracts (which you can add to food or drinks, too).

25. Rest and Hydrate

Take Mom’s advice: Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids, too. Dr. Czaja also advises, “Drinking water helps thin mucus secretions in the lungs.”

You can also take in lots of fruit juices, and soups, but stay away from heavy and highly processed food. High liquid intake is important as the body use water to carry waste products and toxins out of your system.

Watch this video from Elderberry Creek Farms and learn how to get rid of a cold in 24 hours by preparing some home remedies for cold and flu:

There you have it, home remedies for cold and flu, including cough symptoms. Now you know better than to head straight to your medicine cabinet.

Try a couple or a few more of these home remedies for cold and flu since they also have other health benefits, anyway.

Have you tried any of these home remedies for cold and flu before? Tell us which ones you find most effective in the comments section below!

**Disclaimer: All content on this site is for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer here**

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 23, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

No, elderberry syrup will not prevent the flu

The leaves are changing. The wind comes with a faint chill. The back-to-school sale racks have been replaced by the Halloween spread.

This can only mean one thing: Another cold and flu season is upon us.

And with it, an onslaught of dubious claims about products that allegedly cut your risk of coming down with something. Lately, it seems like every single person with some combination of the words “wellness,” “natural” or “herbal” in their Instagram bio has been touting elderberry products — various tinctures from juices and syrups to gummies and teas — as a safe, natural way to ward off a cold or the flu. More than 150,000 Instagram posts have been tagged #elderberry or #elderberrysyrup. Google searches in the U.S. for “elderberry” have spiked during the last two cold and flu seasons. Even some local newspapers have bought into the elderberry-as-flu-prevention craze.

So: Is elderberry juice really something that can replace the flu shot?

“Absolutely not. No,” said Dr. Michael Smit, the medical director of infection prevention and control at Children’s Hospital L.A. He said colleagues have reported parents asking about elderberry as an alternative treatment for the flu. The word “remedy” gets thrown around a lot in conjunction with “elderberry,” Smit said, but “we don’t really use ‘remedy’ as a medical term.”

“As far as the medical establishment goes, there is no acceptable evidence to date that elderberry is effective for prevention or treatment of influenza,” Smit said.

But that’s not to say elderberry products have no place in your medicine cabinet: “I would say that there might be some value with elderberry products as far as a soothing aspect for it, just like you would get from having a glass of herbal tea.”

Dr. Malcolm Taw, director of the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine in Westlake Village, says there’s a reason elderberry concoctions have been cited as cold and flu fighters in medical history.

“This will not replace the flu vaccine,” he said. But elderberry products “have, I’d say a complementary or adjunctive role.”

In some small-scale studies conducted in Norway, Australia and Israel, taking elderberry products has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms of colds and influenza. Of course, getting a flu shot can also do that, as can medications like Tamiflu. Elderberry products and pharmaceutical medications have never been scientifically tested directly against one another to see which works better in that regard.

At the Center for East-West Medicine, Taw said physicians try to integrate the “best of both worlds,” marrying alternative and holistic medicine with Western treatments. When it comes to the flu, “our recommendation at our center would be to get the flu vaccine, but to use elderberry to help manage or mitigate the symptoms,” he said.

The rise of home-brew elderberry products is also cause for concern, said Deborah Blum, director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT and the author of two books about poisons. On Twitter, Blum responded to a now-deleted tweet from a user who shared a photo of an email allegedly from a Columbia professor who had accidentally been poisoned by homemade elderberry syrup.

“Believe it or not, I have poisoned myself,” the email began. “I am a great believer in natural this and that, and take tincture of elderberry instead of a flu shot.” The professor relates having attempted to make a syrup at home out of unripened and uncooked berries. “It turns out they have cyanide.”

Indeed they do, Blum said. Specifically, elderberries have glycocyanide, which she described as a kind of cyanide sugar. The seeds of uncooked elderberries contain this natural poison as a defense against predators. Eating an uncooked elderberry can lead to nausea, vomiting, and other unpleasant digestive side effects.

If you’re interested in adding elderberry to your cold-and-flu-season repertoire, both Blum and Taw recommend buying commercial products over making it yourself. But when it comes to preventing the flu, the best methods are the ones any doctor will recommend: Wash your hands frequently, especially after coughing. If you feel sick, stay home.

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