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Natural remedies for cold and flu season

Categories: Hacking Life, Working? Living?, do more with less


I’m going to make this quick, because I am seriously worried that the sinus pressure is about to cause my eyes to pop right out of my skull. I want to believe this is a cold, only because I’ve always insisted that the flu shot isn’t for me, but I may be wrong.

I’ll spare you the details, and instead I’ll share my five favorite, drug-free ways for easing whatever illness it is I’ve got right now:

1.) Ginger tea. This works wonders on nausea, but I can’t stand the stuff. I make mine do double duty as a cough soother by adding a ton of honey. Boil a kettle of water, chop up a small handful of crystallized ginger, and put it into a huge mug along with the honey and a splash of lemon and lime juices. Fill the mug with water. Breathe in the steam while you wait for it to steep.

2.) Hot packs. For some reason, even though the thermometer tells me I’m practically on fire, all I feel is cold. A zap a cloth bag filled with millet (you can also use rice) in the microwave for two minutes and then knead my cold toes against it like I’m a cat. Very comforting. (A hot water bottle also works wonders, but can spring leaks, so be careful).

3.) Chicken soup. I usually have a stash of homemade broth in the freezer (and you can, too! Do more with less!), but any kind of broth will do. Go easy on the spices and chunky things — trust me.

4.) Tea Tree oil. I would love to write “ibuprofen” in this space, but that’s hardly all-natural. Tea Tree oil, however, does a great job at making me feel like I can breathe a bit easier, and a very small dab of the strong stuff on my temples goes a long way toward easing pain.

5.) Apple cider vinegar. I gave up salt-water gargles for apple cider vinegar a few years ago, and have not looked back since. Mix the vinegar half and half with warm water and gargle it, trying to keep it up against your enormous tonsils for as many seconds as you can (warning: you can’t do it for long). Spit it out into the sink, dry heave, and do it again. Tastes nasty, but it fixes my sore throat like nothing else.

What are your favorite natural remedies for battling cold and flu season! Please share them in the comments… I know I’ll be looking for more!

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4 comments so far...

  • Lylah, you are the best. You always have good tips to share. Thank you.

    vera babayeva  |  February 23rd, 2009 at 8:25 am

  • Thanks for the lovely tips! I’m all about natural remedies and hadn’t thought of apple cider vinegar before… I’m going to link this post up in a roundup. thanks! -Christine

    Boston Mamas  |  February 24th, 2009 at 8:52 pm


    DON’T SEND YOUR KIDS TO SCHOOL SICK. PERIOD. SO OTHER KIDS CAN GET IT! You would be surprised how many moms send their kids to school sick during flu season. Little Jimmie had a fever last night so I gave him Tylenol and he doesn’t have a fever this morning…..sooooo…off to school he goes! The rule is 24 hours without fever.

    Teachers. Before flu season starts. Take a clorox wipe and wipe down each desk before going home for the night. Simple. It will cut down on the amount of kids that get sick.

    My ideas are in a perfect world and it isn’t going to happen! Oh, well, I can dream can’t I?

    momof02  |  March 5th, 2009 at 2:28 pm

  • What about natural remedies for babies??? My baby just had his first cold (he’s 6 month-old) and I ‘m getting desperate about his stuffy noses. Saline nasal spray is not good enough…

    Marcia Gomes  |  March 5th, 2009 at 5:56 pm