I have lost count of the number of holidays I have spent waiting on hold on my doctor's emergency line. One particularly memorable Christmas Eve, my dad and I celebrated by racing down to the corner Walgreens. When we got home, my mom handed me a steaming mug of fresh ginger peppermint tea. And you know what? That tea made me feel better than anything in those white Walgreens bags!
If you’re fighting a cold or the flu (or simply preparing for the possibility) you will love these natural remedies. They are easy on the wallet and guaranteed to ease cold and flu symptoms right away.
6 All-natural cold & flu remedies
These all-natural remedies are so inexpensive they might as well be free—and when you aren't feeling well, practically nothing feels better than, well, feeling better for free!
1. Ginger peppermint tea
Of course, this is one of my all-time favorite remedies. It has the same effect as Vic's VapoRub, opening my throat and chest and soothing my aching head.
- Why it works: Ginger is spicy and energizing, plus it has natural pain management properties for aching heads and upset tummies. Peppermint doubles ginger's power, plus eases stress and sends mucus packing (it has a natural expectorant).
- What to do: Finely dice raw fresh peppermint leaves together with fresh ginger root. Put in a tea bag or tea strainer. Pour hot water over the bag or strainer to steep to desired strength. Or, you can use a peppermint tea bag or peppermint oil together with ginger powder or tincture in a pinch.
- How you save: You can get a whole, large piece of ginger root at the store for less than $3 in most places. Ginger root lasts for weeks and can make lots of tea. Fresh peppermint may be harder to come by, but you can pick up 20 bags of Bigelow peppermint tea for $2.28 (Walmart).
2. Raw honey ginger lemonade
Whether made as a hot toddy or cool soother, this recipe brings relief right to where it hurts.
- Why it works: Raw honey is packed with anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents. Ginger is a natural pain reliever. And lemon is full of Vitamin C and comes pre-loaded with detoxification properties. So combining all three together ensures you can soothe and heal at the same time.
- What to do: Squeeze ½ fresh lemon, dice a few slices of fresh ginger root. Stir in 2 Tbsp fresh raw honey to this mixture until it is thoroughly blended. Add cool water or hot water (your choice). The less water you add, the stronger the mixture will be—you can add just half a cup of hot water for a powerful emergency soother!
- How you save: Raw honey is the priciest ingredient of anything you will see here, but is so worth it; it’s one of nature's true "superfoods." The key is to try to get local raw honey, and the price will vary in local markets. But if you are feeling under the weather, the honey in your cupboard will do just fine in a pinch.
3. Hot garlic tea
Sounds like yuck, right? But when you think of all the other yucky-tasting things you willingly swallow or smear on to get rid of symptoms, maybe you'll give this concoction a second look.
- Why it works: Garlic is full of allicin, which boosts the immune system—in Russia, it’s called "Russian penicillin." And hot water is a natural soother.
- What to do: Crush (or chop) 2 cloves fresh garlic. Add a cup of hot water and steep. Drink.
- How you save: Garlic costs less than $2 per pound—giving you about 60 cloves at around $0.03 per clove. Super cheap and it works!
4. Steam over hot water
I swear—swear—by this remedy. Truly. And I'm not talking one of those new-fangled "steam machines" that manufactures dribs and drabs of vapor. I'm talking about a big cooking pot full of boiling steamy water and me with a towel draped across my head, bending over the pot breathing and breathing and breathing. It really works.
- Why it works: Steam opens up constricted nasal passages, eases sore tissues, and acts as a natural expectorant to break up lodged mucus and expel it.
- What to do: Boil the water in a pot, take it off the stove, and put it on a safe surface. Drape a towel over your head and shoulders so the steam can only go one place—into your nose and mouth. Breathe in deeply for as long as the steam lasts. Do this at least twice per day—morning and evening—until symptoms pass. Tip: be very cautious at first since the steam can be extremely hot!
- How you save: There’s no cheaper remedy to ease cold and flu symptoms than this! You pay only for the cost of a few cups of water and a jolt of electricity (or gas) power.
Note:If you happen to have essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, or rosemary on hand, add a few drops to the steam for extra expectorant properties.
5. Salt water gargle
This is another remedy I swear by—for just about everything. Salt has helped ease sore throats, itchy insect bites, painful stings and cuts, aching swollen muscles and much more. This is probably why salt is in just about every "home remedy" on the market today—from Neti pot packets to nasal sprays to gargle washes—it is even in the "saline" washes used to protect your contact lenses!
- Why it works: Salt has natural curative and anti-bacterial properties, helping aches, pains and wounds of all kinds heal faster.
- What to do: Add 1 tsp of salt to ½ cup of very warm water (as warm as you can stand). Mix well, then gargle with the mixture until it’s gone (do not swallow). Do this up to four times per day until symptoms ease.
- How you save: You can buy 26 oz of Morton's salt for $0.68 (Walmart), making this remedy practically free!
6. Epsom salt bath
Over the years, Epsom salt baths have been my go-to remedy for everything from sore muscles to sprained ankles to stopped up noses to a nasty bout with chicken pox in my late teens. Trust me—your body will thank you for the warmth and the healing.
- Why it works: Epsom salt—which is actually magnesium sulfate—has curative, detoxification and antibacterial agents. Its natural alkalinizing properties help improve your body's circulatory system, which is the primary way your body detoxes from germs.
- What to do: Add 2 cups of salts to a full bath of very warm water. Soak for as long as you can. As a perk, this lovely healing bath will also help you sleep better.
- How you save: You can purchase an 8 lb bag of basic salts (no need for anything fancy here) for $5.43 (Walmart). This will give you 16 cups of salts—or eight healing baths (at $0.68 per bath).