Natural Ways to Treat Cold and Flu

With cold and flu season quickly approaching, it’s a good idea to have your favorite remedies on hand before your household gets sick. As with many of you, I prefer natural remedies over commercially made medication. I’ve compiled a list of my best NATURAL ways to treat cold and flu this winter so you can avoid unnecessary ingredients.

Before we continue, remember that it’s always best to consult with your doctor before starting any form of treatment, natural or otherwise.

Natural Medicines

If you want to avoid the drugstore, your best option is to create herbal remedies for the cold and flu. My favorites include oregano oil for pain, olive leaf extract for sore throats, and garlic for shorter colds.

Looking for something a little more in-depth? Check out these recipes for some of the most popular natural remedies: fire cider and elderberry syrup.

Fire Cider – One Natural Way to Treat Cold and Flu

Several studies have shown that fire cider helps the body balance blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and fight infections. This tonic can help prevent illness or shorten the length of your cold if you come down with one. While the ingredients may sound a little intimidating, trust me! It’s worth it! Having a fire cider shot every morning during cold and flu season is a great idea.


A quart of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)

1/3 cup of grated horseradish and ginger roots

1/4 cup of peeled and diced turmeric (or 2 tablespoons of dried, powdered turmeric)

Half a dozen cloves of minced garlic

1/2 cup of peeled and diced onion

1 or 2 habanera chiles, split in half (or cayenne pepper)

One large lemon, rind and all, sliced (optional)

2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary (or 1 teaspoon of dried)

2 tablespoons of chopped thyme (or 1 teaspoon of dried)

1/2 cup of chopped parsley (optional)

A cinnamon stick, a few allspice berries, and a few whole cloves (optional)

1 teaspoon of black peppercorns

1/4 cup of raw honey, or more to taste


  • Place all ingredients but vinegar and honey into a clean one-quart jar. Fill the jar with apple cider vinegar.
  • The apple cider vinegar should cover the herbs by an inch or two. Seal the cap tightly. If you cap your jaw with a lid that has metal parts, screw the lid over a piece of cooking parchment or a small plastic bag. This will keep the lid from corroding. Shake well.
  • Let the mixture sit for a few weeks to soak. Shake daily.
  • Strain the solid materials from the vinegar. Sweeten the liquid with honey to taste. The honey will add sweetness and blend all the flavors in the fire cider.
  • Refrigerate and use within a year.

How to Consume

  • Take a tablespoon of cider tonic daily as a preventative during cold and flu season. You can take it right off the spoon.
  • Add it to a cup of juice or hot tea. Diluting the vinegar is best because undiluted vinegar can erode dental enamel.
  • Drink it or take teaspoonfuls throughout the day when you feel a cold coming on.
  • Gargle at the first sign of a scratchy throat.
  • Mix 50-50 with honey for a cough remedy.

Elderberry Syrup – Another Natural Way to Treat Cold and Flu

Research has shown that black elderberries can help avoid minor illnesses like the common cold and some strains of flu. They can also help speed up recovery time when you come down with these illnesses while providing some relief from common discomforts. Elderberry syrup is a simple way to consume elderberries in a concentrated form that tastes great. Making your own is a great way to save money and have the immune support of vitamins A, B, and C.


3 1/2 cups of water

2/3 cups of dried elderberries (or 1 1/3 cups of fresh or frozen)

2 tablespoons of ginger, grated

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

1 cup of raw honey


  • Pour the water into a medium saucepan and add the elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
  • Bring to a boil and then uncover and reduce to a simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced by almost half.
  • Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm.
  • Mash the berries carefully, using a spoon or other flat utensil.
  • Pour the mixture through a strainer or cheesecloth into a glass jar or bowl. Discard the elderberries.
  • When the liquid is no longer hot, add the cup of honey and stir well.
  • When the honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a mason jar or glass bottle.
  • Store in the fridge.

Take elderberry syrup daily for immune-boosting properties. Some resources recommend taking it only during the week and not on the weekend for best results.

Other Natural Remedies (Ways to Treat Cold and Flu)

The recipes above give you a tonic and syrup that can help ward off illness or allow it to end sooner than it would without intervention. However, you’ll likely want other remedies to help alleviate your symptoms and discomforts if you come down with a cold or flu.

Below are some remedies for various cold and flu symptoms:

  • Blow your nose correctly: Press a finger over one nostril while you blow gently to clear the other.
  • Use warm salt water for a stuffy nose: Mix ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda into eight ounces of distilled, sterile, or cooled-off boiled water. Use a bulb syringe or nasal irrigation kit to squirt the water into the nose. Hold one nostril closed while squirting the mixture into the other nostril, then let it drain. Repeat two or three times per nostril.
  • Gargle salt water: Gargle half a teaspoon of salt dissolved into eight ounces of warm water four times daily for a sore throat.
  • Use a salve under your nose: A small amount of mentholated salve under your nose can help open breathing passages and soothe irritated skin from using tissues.
  • Eat infection-fighting foods: Foods like bell peppers, blueberries, carrots, chili peppers, mustard, horseradish, onions, and black and green teas all have properties in them that can alleviate symptoms and help you feel better while battling a cold or flu.

Final Tip

Honey is a tremendous natural resource for fighting illness this winter, especially if it’s local honey. If you’re close to Stoney Creek Farm, place an order to pick up some of our honey to use in your fire cider and elderberry syrup. If you aren’t local, buy local honey from your area for the best results. Remember that honey shouldn’t be given to babies under a year of age, so these recipes should be saved for family members a year old and older.

Cold and flu season can be a pain, but with natural remedies like the ones above, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding illness or being sick for a shorter time if you come down with something. Have these remedies on hand before the next cold strikes!