When I was a little kid, my parents had a routine for “sick Marina”. They would bundle me up and rush me off to my dad’s mother. She was my “wacko grandma”. She was very into natural remedies and herbs. Oh, how we appreciate her now. She’d get rid of any could or flu in no more than 3 days. It was a very well-rehearsed routine: chamomile tea, water, essential oils for stuffy nose, and lots of sleep. That’s it! These natural remedies for cold and flu did the trick pretty fast.

I actually loved getting sick, because I had so much fun at her house. I loved resting and refreshing, and being taken care of by my amazing grandma Bella.

While many people rush to take medicine when they have a common cold or flu, natural home remedies for cold and flu work extremely well, without side effects. In this article, I’m going to list some of the top natural remedies to fight the cold and flu to get you through that cold season.



First, it is important to understand that the symptoms you have when you’re sick, including a cough, headache, fever, etc. are your immune system’s way of battling disease. This means that instead of treating the symptoms, we want to allow our body to efficiently fight the illness. It does so naturally, and we should simply enhance this ability.

Little and important disclaimer: always remember to consult your health care provider if you are having severe symptoms, or if you suspect there is a need to do so. If you are having a bacterial infection, it is especially important to consult with your health care professional.

You can watch the full YouTube video here:

natural remedies for cold and flu

#1 Natural Remedy for Cold and Flu: Prevention

Every time I get sick (which is not very often, compared to how much I used to get sick as a child), I become thankful. I am reminded of how incredible I feel when I am not sick, which is most of the time. How amazing it is to not even really know what a headache feels like, or what low energy is (unless I actually do not sleep).

The amazing overall health I experience is due to my daily routine of healthy food, mild exercise, and meditation. Preventing a cold or flu is the best and easiest thing you can do (plus, you’re preventing many more serious diseases at the same time). You can start to do so by consuming a plant-based diet, high in raw food. Grab my 1-week raw vegan winter meal plan for some great ideas on easy raw vegan meals:



#2 Natural Remedy for Cold and Flu: Immune Boosters  


Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu EchinaceaAccording to a meta-study published in the journal Lancet Infectious Disease, 14 studies on Echinacea found that it reduces risk of catching the cold by 58%, and reduces the duration of the cold by almost 1.5 days! The US Department of Agriculture reported that 10 mg of Echinacea per kg of body weight taken daily for 10 days is incredible for the immune system.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it is important to take a high-quality Echinacea supplement or drink tea at the earliest sign of a cold.


Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu

Probiotics are wonderful for increasing good bacteria in the gut, and are thus great natural remedies for cold and flu. This good bacteria, which should outnumber the bad bacteria in our gut, is what determines the strength of our immune system. It is our immune system!

To strengthen the immune system, be sure to take a good-quality vegan probiotic daily, as well as eat fermented foods in their raw state (including sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented salsa, etc.). Many probiotic supplements contain dairy, so watch out for that. Fermented foods contain good bacteria, yet they may not always contain all of the different bacteria strains. 

For my yummy raw vegan taco salad that has sauerkraut in it, go here. I also have a post describing how to make your very own home-made sauerkraut, here


If you feel that you are getting sick, increase your probiotic usage to the maximum dose the supplement you are taking allows. However, if this is your first time taking the probiotic, be careful with it. It may cause tummy upset, so start slow and see how you feel.

GarlicNatural remedies for cold and flu garlic

Speaking of bad bacteria… garlic is quite a slayer of it! It is one of the best natural remedies for cold and flu. Garlic boosts the immune system in various ways. It increases the virus-fighting T-cells in the bloodstream. In a 2012 University of Florida study, scientists found that aged garlic extract reduced the severity of cold and flu symptoms. When eating garlic, cold and flu symptoms went away faster. Garlic also decreases the production of stress hormone from the adrenal glands. As you probably have noticed, getting sick while stressed is very common.

The research organization Cochrane Database found that taking garlic daily for 3 months decreases colds, and decreases the duration of the illness from 5.5 days to 4.5. These results are much more impressive than the flu drug Tamiflu. If taken within 48 hours of getting sick, Tamiflu reduced duration of symptoms by a day to 1.5 days. Of course Tamiflu has side effects, unlike garlic!   

To use garlic as a natural remedy for cold and flu, crush and chop it to allow the release of an allinase enzyme. You can juice, blend, or squish your garlic clove with a spoon. A medium-sized clove or two work very well. Be sure to consume the garlic no longer than an hour after you smash it up, so that the allicin (formed as a result of the allinase enzyme), is still intact. Fresh garlic works, while jarred, dried, or capsules of garlic don’t because all of their important properties fade.  

My favorite recipes with raw garlic:

Oil of Oregano

Like garlic, oil of oregano also acts as natural antibiotic. A powerful anti-fungual, oil of oregano lacks the terrible side effects of conventional antibiotics. Carvacol is the main healing compound in oil of oregano. Over 800 studies reference this compound in PubMed! It is proven to reverse and reduce things like candida, viruses, inflammation, fungal and bacterial infections, and more.

Due to its extreme potency, oil of oregano should be used carefully and for a short period of time as one of your natural remedies for cold and flu. You can apply the diluted oil to the bottom of your feet. Place one drop of the essential oil for about 3-5 drops of a carrier oil like coconut oil; for children, use more carrier oil. Additionally, you can diffuse the oil using an essential oil diffuser. You can also put a few drops in a cup of water and drink daily, for no longer than 10 consecutive days. The taste is extremely strong and peppery, so be sure to drink it down very quickly.

Medicinal Mushroomsnatural remedies for cold and flu medicinal mushrooms

Shiitake, Reishi and Maitake mushrooms are among many fungi that act as natural remedies for cold and flu. A recent study found that concentrated shiitake extracts enhanced immune function for women suffering from breast cancer. They are powerful disease fighters, from cancer to the common cold. Mushrooms kill things like bacteria, yeast, and viruses.  

In addition to strengthening the immune system, mushrooms also help stimulate the body’s innate defense system, relieve respiratory allergies and cough, strengthen the lungs, reduce congestion, and even reduce viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Fungus fights fungus!

In 1999, a robot near the Chernobyl nuclear reactor (I was actually born very close by to it!) found a fungus that destroyed 200 tons of melted radioactive fuel! Fungi can harness radiation for their advantage.  

Be sure to take only organically grown mushrooms, and beware of where you source them, as they absorb the environment where they grow. You can cook the fresh medicinal mushrooms, or take them in supplement form throughout flu and cold season.

#3 Natural Remedy for Cold and Flu: Drink Warm and Healing Herbal Teas

natural remedies for cold and flu teaHerbs like ginseng, astragalus, and ginger also show some benefits for protecting the body against cold and flu. Take these in supplement form, include them fresh in your dishes, or drink them in teas throughout cold and flu season.

Other great teas include nettle leaf, which helps toxin removal, and ginger, which helps with fever, congestion, and nausea.

Chamomile was my grandma’s go to when she used to nurse me back to health. It helps with nerves, sleep, reduced inflammation, and fever. Many studies confirmed the antimicrobial benefits of chamomile. You can drink chamomile tea for better mood and relaxation, or steep chamomile flowers in boiling water for 10 minutes, than inhale the steam while covered with a towel over your head.  

#4 Natural Remedy for Cold and Flu: Get Out of the Way

natural remedies for cold and flu sleep

The most important of all natural remedies for cold and flu is this one. Resting and relaxing is what the body needs most when it is trying to heal. Doing this simply means getting out of the body’s way, and allowing it to use its innate ability to heal. When you are sick, resting and relaxing using your favorite method is critical. You can do things like deep breathing, meditation, and sauna. Pick your favorite, get plenty of sleep, and try your best not to engage in the things that stress you out. 

#5 Natural Remedy for Cold and Flu: Clear your Throat   

natural remedies for cold and flu lemon juice

There are two awesome natural remedies for cold and flu that will help you with that yucky throat congestion. 

Gargling is a great way to alleviate a soar throat. Sorana Segal-Maurer, MD confirms that gargling  with salt water is indeed effective. It helps create a high-salt barrier and pull fluids from the tissues in the throat to wash out the virus. Place 1 tablespoon of sea salt or Himalayan salt in 1 quart of water, and gargle until you can’t gargle no more.

Another great way to eliminate that bacteria is lemon juice. Lemon juice contains plenty of vitamin C and anti-oxidants for your immune system, it can break up the mucus that causes sore throat. In additional, lemon in a natural antiseptic that kills bacteria and viruses, and it increases salivation to help lubricate an irritated throat. Juice 1-2 lemons and drink the juice a couple of times per day. Remember to wash your mouth with pure water afterwards as it can irritate your teeth. Do not brush your teeth after you do this. This will harm your enamel.  

#6 Natural Remedy for Cold and Flu: Clear your Nose   

Eucalyptus essential oil is wonderful for clearing up a stuffy nose. Eucalyptus oil is anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti septic, and pain killing. Studies found that eucalyptus oil helps increase circulation in the body, increases the number of phagocytes (bacteria-destroying cells), and helps expel phlegm, decongesting the airways. The University of Rome found that eucalyptus oil has immune boosting properties, helping your body beat infections.

Warm up a bottle of eucalyptus essential oil by placing it in a cup of boiling water. After a few minutes, hold the bottle with a cloth so you don’t get burned. Place a towel over your head for maximum efficiency. Open the bottle, and close one nostril with your finger, while inhaling a few times with the second nostril. Switch, and do so for the other nostril too.

I hope you have enjoyed these home remedies for cold and flu! Are there any remedies you have used in the past that worked? Post them in the comments below! 



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Marina Yanay-Triner is a wellness coach and recipe developer through Soul in the Raw. Marina creates easy and delicious vegan recipes and writes about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, focusing on evidence-based nutrition information. She loves to help clients go and stick to plant based eating through her powerful coaching program, combining nutrition and cooking education along with transformational mindset work. Marina adopted a whole food, plant based lifestyle over 7 years ago, inspired by her mother's incredible healing story of reversing a crippling bladder disease. She has reversed PMS symptoms and encourage emotional healing from trauma as a result of this transition. Marina is incredibly passionate about the vegan diet for human health, animal welfare, and the well-being of our planet, all of which she envisions as co-dependent.