Home Remedies for Colds and Flu

Note: Significant ear, eye, or head pain, deep coughing, coughs that linger more than a month, or coughing up blood should be evaluated by a health care professional.


Strategy: your best chance of fighting off a cold or flu is to treat it aggressively as soon as you have any symptoms, which includes all of the suggestions below. Even 4 hours can make a difference.

Rest: Your requirements for rest increase when you are ill. Consider going to bed earlier than usual and having water/medications/and supplements you may need during the night at your bedside so that your sleep will be interrupted as little as possible. If coughing is a problem, consider propping yourself up with pillows.


  1. Please eliminate sugar and sugary products, since sugar can depress the immune system. This includes undiluted sugary juices, all sodas, and sugary snacks.
  2. Eliminate all dairy products during your illness, as such products can increase the production of mucus in some individuals.
  3. Increase your water intake to 6-8 glasses per day.
  4. Maintain a good intake of protein since this is an important component for supporting proper immune function.
  5. Consider increasing your intake of garlic since it is antimicrobial.
  6. Congee is a type of rice porridge that is a classic healing food in Asian cultures. There are many variations but here is a basic recipe that will create 4-6 servings:
    • 1 cup long grain rice
    • 9 cups water or stock (chicken or fish)
    • Salt to taste (typically 1 tsp)
    • In a heavy pot, bring rice, liquid and optional salt to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cover loosely with a lid. Place the lid on the pot, tilting it to allow steam to escape (the same as you would do when making cooked rice). Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the rice is thoroughly cooked and the porridge becomes thick and creamy, about 1½ hours. Variations include adding ginger, chicken, etc.

Gargle: there are many types of gargles that can help soothe a sore throat.

  1. Vitamin C gargle: 1,000 mg in 1/2 cup warm water.
  2. Alternate the Vitamin C with a strong salt gargle.

Stress: Try to decrease your level of stress as much as possible, since high levels of stress can interfere with proper immune function.


Vitamin C is can be helpful to the immune system. Avoid doses higher than 2 grams per day if pharmaceutical antibiotics are being used.

Acute dose:  1 gram three to four times a day. If you get loose stools, decrease the dose you are talking by 500mg until the problem resolves.

Zinc lozenges appear to help some viral infections. A typical does is one lozenge every three hours for 2-3 days unless you have a condition where zinc is contraindicated.

Vitamin A is useful when a deep cough is present, such when you are experiencing bronchitis or pneumonia.

Take 50,000 IU per day for up to 10 days.
This vitamin can be toxic if taken for an extended period at high doses, so do not continue a high dose regimen without medical supervision. Be sure to talk to a physician before taking any dose of Vitamin A if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.

Multiple vitamin and mineral supplements taken as prescribed, with food, are useful when you are ill because your nutritional requirements typically increase and your quantity of food decreases. The low quality products that are typically available from warehouse chains (e.g. Cosco), supermarkets, and convenience stores are not recommended.


Echinacea is anti-viral and an immune stimulant. Please note that taking Echinacea for long periods of time (i.e. months) decreases its effectiveness.

Ligusticum is also immune stimulating and is an excellent antiviral herb. It is a primary herb in our anti-viral tincture and is helpful for respiratory issues.

Please be aware that, like multivitamins, the low quality herbal products that are typically available from warehouse chains, supermarkets, and convenience stores are not recommended and typically do not work well.

Physical Interventions

Hand Washing/Cleaning: it goes without saying that you should clean your hands and surfaces you interact with more frequently to prevent the spread of infection.

Steam breathing is useful for deep coughs and congestion. It is best to use a steaming device specially made for this usage. If this is not available, you can use a home-based method if you proceed with caution.

  • Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. It is optional to put 1/2 tsp of Eucalyptus oil or Vick’s VapoRub in the water. Carefully remove the pan from the stove and slowly pour the boiling water into a large container appropriate for holding hot water such as a large Pyrex bowl. Use a hot plate under the container if necessary. Do NOT use this method while the pan is still on the stove.
  • Cover your head and the container of steaming water with a towel, making a kind of tent. Breath the steam for 10 minutes. Repeat twice a day.

Other Interventions
Other interventions that can be prescribed by our clinical staff include IV therapy, homeopathics, nebulizer treatments, and glandulars.

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