Whether it is just a “Man” cold or the full blown flu, there is nothing fun about getting sick. Even worse is when you need to feel better quick and everything that you are trying appears to be failing. So, what natural remedies do work? Here are the top 10 cold and flu remedies that we prescribe to get you back to optimal health fast.

  1. Gargle with salt water

Do this as soon as you start feeling sick! Not only can it help relieve a sore, scratchy throat, but if you go back to your middle school science days, you will remember that many organisms cannot live in an overly high salinity (salty) environment. Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water and gargle it all 1-5x a day.

  1. Honey

Honey not only helps soothe a sore throat it also works as a cough suppressant. Honey can soothe irritated mucous membranes which helps remove the irritation that is fueling the cough reflex. A warm and cozy drink to help soothe a sore throat is Golden Milk. Golden Milk is a mixture of several ingredients including turmeric/curcumin, a powerful antioxidant spice. This makes Golden Milk a very powerful cold and flu remedy. 

Golden Milk: Place 2 cups of coconut or almond milk in a saucepan with 1 tsp dried turmeric, 1 tsp dried ginger, a dash of black pepper and honey to taste. Bring to a simmer, allow to sit for 10 minutes, and serve warm. Note: Absolutely do not ingest dairy, as it can thicken phlegm and worsen congestion.

  1. Take a Ginger Shot 

Ginger is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It has been known to help with congestion, nausea, colds, and fevers. Eating ginger can also help, but for the best bang for your buck, go for the juice shot. You can try blending a ¼ inch of ginger root in water or herbal tea. Simply close your eyes and drink fast. If that does not sound appealing try making some ginger tea. Pour 16 ounces of boiling water over two tablespoons of sliced fresh ginger and one tablespoon raw honey. Let steep for 15-20 minutes, strain and drink. 

  1. Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry is a fruit grown from the elder tree that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties making it a powerhouse when it comes to fighting colds. Studies have shown taking elderberry syrup can shorten colds and flus and also relieve sinus infections. It is easy to make elderberry syrup or you can often buy it in a health food store. I would highly recommend that you make it yourself as it is often stronger and much less expensive. Take 1 tablespoon every waking hour.

Elderberry Syrup:elderberry syrup

  • 1 ½ cup dried elderberries (we purchase from Amazon)
  • 4 ½ cups water
  • 1 Tbs cloves
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs Ginger
  • 1 Tbs Lemon Zest
  • 1 Tbs Orange Zest
  • 2 Tbs Apple Cider vinegar
  • 1 cup local honey

Put all ingredients except honey in a pressure cooker such as the Instant Pot. Use the sauté setting and bring ingredients to a boil. Hit cancel, then select high-pressure for five minutes, with a natural pressure release. Strain the ingredients, cool, and then add the honey. Place the syrup in a mason jar and store in a refrigerator.

Don’t have an Instant Pot? Place all ingredients, except the honey, in a crock-pot on high for 6 hours. Strain, cool, add the honey and place in a mason jar.

  1. Essential oils

Power to the plants! There are many powerful essential oils for cold and flus but here are a few that are easily accessible: Eucalyptus oil has antiviral and antimicrobial properties which have historically been used to treat the common cold. Peppermint oil is used as a natural decongestant and fever-reducer. It’s like a natural VapoRub. Just make sure when applying topically that you mix with a carrier oil! 

My favorite essential oil is a blend by Now Foods called Nature’s Shield. Nature’s Shield is a contemporary version of the famed FourThieves Vinegar that’s been used in various forms for centuries. Made with Clove Bud, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus and Rosemary oils, Nature’s Shield is blended for aromatherapeutic use but can be used for a variety of other purposes. Try diffusing it, try applying it to the bottoms of your feet (with a carrier oil), try using it mixed with water as a natural surface disinfectant. 

  1. Sleep

Give your body the rest it needs. I’ve learned this lesson many times over, but to really help your body heal you need to sleep as much as your body needs. Don’t just try to push through illness. Your body is working extra hard to fight something, so rest and allow it to recover.


  1. Garlic

Garlic is a powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial, antiviral, antibiotic, antifungal, and basically anti-anything-else-you-don’t-want-in-your-body properties. Garlic is packed with minerals, enzymes, vitamin C, sulphur, and selenium which all help bust colds and flus. Enjoy garlic in your meals or make a garlic shot if you’re seriously brave. 

Garlic Shot: Mince a clove of garlic, float it in about 1/4 cup of water and then shoot it—and try not to taste the raw garlic.

  1. Cinnamon

Good for more than just stabilizing blood sugar, cinnamon is an effective antiviral and antibiotic. When sick, mix 1 tablespoon with 1 teaspoon of honey and stir to make a spicy and very effective tea that helps relieve cough and congestion and lower fever.

  1. Bone Broth

Bone broth, or that chicken soup your grandmother has been making for years, actually isn’t just a tall tale. A bowl of homemade chicken soup, or bone broth can be effective in helping to fight colds and flus. Bone broth contains anti-inflammatory amino acids and is packed full of immune supporting vitamins and minerals that are extra easy for your body to digest. 

  1. Epsom salt bath

Add Epsom salt to a hot bath along with some essential oils if you’d like to have a relaxing, detoxifying evening. The minerals in the bath cause the toxins in your body to be released in the bath so not only is it relaxing, but it’s good for you too. A 20-minute soak in a warm bath with 1-2 cups of Epsom salts often does more than any over-the-counter pain reliever. And, hey, even if it doesn’t help with your body aches, it’ll probably relax you enough to where you can get some rest (which you need when you’re sick).

Cold and Flu Prevention

There are four areas that are foundational to our immune systems that no natural remedy can replace them. These four areas are key to keeping your immune system healthy and preventing the next cold or flu. They are, in no particular order:

  1. Prioritizing a nutrient-dense diet – Avoiding grains, sugars, and other highly starchy foods ensures that the body is functioning at peak immunity should it encounter a virus or bacteria.
  2. Optimizing vitamin D levels –  Studies show that optimizing vitamin D goes a long way to preventing and shortening the duration of illness.Vitamin D3 – A hormone precursor, this vitamin is finally getting recognition as a necessary nutrient for health. Optimizing vitamin D levels can help prevent illness in the first place, and taking several thousand IUs a day while sick can help speed recovery. Blood tests can help determine any underlying deficiency.
  3. Regular exercise – Consistent exercise has also been shown to reduce the number of times a person gets ill per year and the duration. I like to do a simple kettlebell routine at home.

Granted, these are things to do consistently when you are well (no exercising when the flu comes on!). Of course, we can do these and still potentially get sick — although it certainly won’t happen as often — so don’t worry, there are natural ways to heal faster!

Vitamin and Supplements to help fight cold and flu:

Vitamin C – Perhaps the best vitamin for cold and flu, vitamin C in large amounts can greatly speed recovery. We take a real food form from camu camu and acerola cherry. 

Zinc – Healthy levels of zinc can reduce the severity of a cold or flu virus and can help shorten the duration of illness.

Oregano and oregano oil – Oregano oil is a potent natural antibiotic and antiviral. I diffuse this as needed during illness or use a tiny amount (diluted 1 part oregano to 4 parts carrier oil) on the feet.

Olive Leaf Extract This is a powerful health tool used to destroy bacteria and boost immunity. Olive Leaf Extract has been shown to effectively work against more than 50 disease-causing organisms, including Candida albicans and E. coli. Unlike regular antibiotics that cause antibiotic resistance, Olive Leaf Extract is safe and effective for long-term use and multiple acute episodes. Try taking 3 capsules twice a day. You may also like to try Olive Leaf Extract in the convenient nasal and throat sprays or liquid form.

NAC Because NAC boosts the body’s levels of GSH (Glutathione, an antioxidant), it helps fight most viruses, including the influenza virus. GSH is vital for optimal T and B-lymphocyte function. NAC is mucolytic, which means it breaks up heavy and sticky mucus that can build up in conditions such as sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, and cystic fibrosis. NAC is therefore indispensable in any condition that involves excessive mucus. NAC combines well with elderberry syrup and/or olive leaf extract to make an even stronger cold fighter.

Bone Broth Bone broth, either homemade or from a powdered supplement, can be helpful to provide the nutrients needed to fuel your immune system. The immune system does not use glucose like most cells. Instead, it uses a mixture of amino acids for fuel. A steady supply of amino acids found in bone broth is more than adequate to keep your immune fighters working properly. Try at least one bowl of bone broth each day.

And don’t forget!

Chiropractic and Acupuncture:

Try getting adjusted by your chiropractor or using acupuncture when you have a cold. Both have been shown to shorten the life-span of the common cold. Both can also improve the headache and general malaise associated with a cold. Many patients call us at the beginning of a cold and can testify to feeling better quickly thereafter, so give Core Roanoke a call next time you have the cold or flu!

This Week 10% All Cold and Flu Supplements

  • NAC, Olive Leaf Extract, Bone Broth, Vitamin D, Ginger, Oregano, and Nature’s Shield Essential Oils.



Daryl C. Rich, D.C., C.S.C.S.