7 Cheap and Natural Ways to Fight the Cold and Flu

By Lori Kerrigan on 16 October 2009 (Updated 3 November 2010) 28 comments

Over-the-counter symptom relief is a normal and common reaction for the millions of people who suffer from the cold and flu each year. However, for my family, limiting how much acidic and unnecessary medicine enters our bodies is top on my priority list. In my research, experience and wisdom gained from others, I have found 7 cheap and natural suggestions for beating the common cold or flu.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

On Backwoods Home Magazine, Linda Gabris discusses the many valuable uses of ACV. I can personally attest to the MANY benefits of this wondrous creation. (Even when I do not have a cold I drink ACV to aid in detoxifying my body, and to speed up my metabolism.)

To fight a cold, Gabris suggests mixing two tablespoons of ACV with one cup of boiling water. She recommends adding honey if you would like to sweeten the taste (ACV is not pleasant tasting to most people, though after a few months of drinking it, I now enjoy the taste). You can drink this as a tea and is said to be good for relieving a cough and breaking up phlegm. Another benefit to the ACV tea is inhaling the steam which can lead to a relief in the painful congestion that builds up.

It is not recommended to give to children under 2. Cut the dose of ACV in half for kids over two.

Garlic

Cheap and effective...and smelly, but, if you can deal with the smell, you have an inexpensive, way to fight off a cold with a powerful punch. Alicin, which gives garlic its odor, also gives garlic its antioxidant compounds to fight the virus, and shorten the duration of the cold. There are different ways to take garlic: supplements, powder, extract, oil, mixing it with food, or eating a clove whole or mixed with food. Garlic is safe for children (mixing it with apple sauce is said to be a tasty way for kids to eat it), though avoid giving children supplements as there is not enough research to know if anything but fresh garlic with kids is safe.

Ginger

Another little guy with a powerful punch! Research on Catalog, by Rita Hutner, states that ginger is a diaphoretic that contains particles active against rhinoviruses (a common group of cold viruses). Basically, ginger raises your body temperature, forcing your body to perspire and sweat out the cold...nice...sweating without working out! If your child does not like the tea, put about 3-5 tablespoons of ginger, wrapped in a cheese cloth, in a warm bath. This will help them sweat out the cold, in a more enjoyable way.

Ginger is also a blood thinner — talk to a doctor about taking it if you are taking blood thinning medicine.

Green Tea

One of my favorites, even when I do not have a cold. Many “A List” celebrities drink this to keep healthy, speed up their metabolism, and to detoxify their body...not to mention, it tastes great, especially with a little lemon and honey (which are both helpful for soothing a sore throat). When it comes to shortening the length of a schedule disturbing visit from the cold or flu virus, green tea aids in ridding your body of those nasty toxic viruses that causes the many aches and pains keeping you from tending to your to do list.

This is not recommended for children.

Chicken Soup

Your mother’s suggestion of treating your cold with chicken soup was not in vain. Chicken soup contains mucus fighting elements, steam to relieve congestion, carbohydrates to give you energy, and veggies to aid in giving your body the nutrients it needs to stay strong while fighting away the cold. Keep to low sodium though. Some sodium is good for regulating the amount of fluids in your body, but too much will dehydrate you.

Rest

Your body is working overtime to fight this nasty little virus invading your body. Resting gives your body the ability to strengthen itself to fight these toxins, and also gives your body time to repair itself. Even if you are a constant doer like myself, step away from your to do list and rest, it might be painful for a while (believe me, I know), but the recovery for your body will aid in getting you back to your most effective self.

Water

We have all heard that drinking 8 glasses of water a day is imperative to our health. This is even more true when fighting a cold. Water will flush out your system, aid in digestion, and fights fatigue.

Follow these five tips, fight that nasty cold, and get back to the many roles you play in your life. Most of these tips are also helpful for ending the agony you and your kids are in when they get hit with cold or flu bug. Feel better soon!

I am not a doctor and this should not be considered medical advice. Always consult your doctor.

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Guest's picture
Guest

Electrolytes are key. Watered down gatoraid, soup, etc.
Anything with some Sodium and or Potassium in it is good.
A lot of people swear by Vitamin C, but I'm a little skeptical.

Guest's picture
Skeptic

I agree that one may be better off using these than the potentially dangerous over the counter cough and cold medicines, but I think Dr. Dean says it best:

taking these "cures" will probably make the cold go away in about 2 weeks, instead of suffering through it for a whole 14 days.

I'll stick to my sure fire cure of sleeping, breathing, eating, and drinking - I've done that for every cold and I've beat every one of 'em.

Guest's picture
A

When I feel like I'm about to get sick, I do two things:
1. Chopped raw garlic (on pasta or other food)
2. Zinc drops and echinacea drops (follow directions)

Along with rest and fluids, this helps me avoid actually getting sick about 80-90% of the time. If I do get sick, it doesn't last as long. This has worked for me for about 10 years.

Guest's picture
Laurel Larsen-Sokes

As an RN that works in an urgent care center I see a lot of flu and colds. I have never seen commercial over the counter cold (OTC) remedies to be helpful. Many people believe the adds on TV and are suprised when they have spent quite a bit of money of them and still are not getting well. The only ingredients that seem to help are usualy tylenol (acetaminophen) and perhaps a decongestant, both of which can be bought in generic form and are probably in our medicine cabinets anyway.
I had not heard about sing ACV for colds, but will try it and recommend it. I am always happy to have effective, less harmful and cheaper alternatives to suggest to people and to try myself.

Guest's picture
Guest

ACV is extremely corrosive to tooth enamel. It's curative powers are dubious and you risk destroying your teeth if you drink it.

Guest's picture

Keeping your sinuses healthy preventatively and once you are ill is essential to good health. Since I started using a saline nasal spray I get sick about 5X less than I use to. It's a miracle worker, it's cheap, and it's natural.

Guest's picture
Bobby

I hit the tea hard when I come down with something, especially ginger tea. Anyone use a neti pot? I've heard good things about 'em.

Guest's picture
Grace

Taking a couple of dropperfuls of Osha root tincture as soon as you begin to get symptoms can also ward off a cold or flu. Osha is a native plant of the Rockies, and its root has antibacterial and antiviral properties. I have used its tincture for several years nw and it has worked well for me. I save money by making my own tincture: get an ounce of Osha root from an herb store. Put it in high proof vodka or grain alcohol (Everclear) and equal parts water. Put the mixture in a covered jar, store in a cupboard, and shake it up every day. After two weeks, strain and refrigerate.

Financial Samurai's picture

Donno about these. Could it all be just old wives tales?

I think getting sick is quite mental. If you believe you won't get sick, you seldom get sick. My mom used to always tell me i'd catch cold if i didn't dry my hair right away. I didn't dry, and I got sick.

Think healthy and be healthy!

Keigu,

Financial Samurai
"Slicing Through Money's Mysteries"

Guest's picture

these are things that i never heard of. particularly the ginger(the first thing that crept into my mind was vampire repellent). They are really useful and i they will help keep me away from the doctor

Guest's picture
Maria

I prefer natural food like Chicken Soup. This is good idea.

Guest's picture
Dobie

The best cure for a cold or flu is not to get sick in the first place. Here are a few tips to prevent getting sick in the first place:

Wash your hands frequently.
Keep your hands aware from your face.
Drink hot liquids.
Gargle with salt water (or listerine in you don't want the salt).

Guest's picture
Matt

These are some very good tips - natural and common sense goes a long way in life.

Guest's picture
Guest

Somebody stop being cheap and take that poor little asian girl to the drugstore

Guest's picture
Guest

Both of those supplement and the herb speed wellness and stop cold starts. Viral illness like the flu they will help from additional infections and bolster the immune system. Zinc prevents cold germs/bacteria from being able to attach and form colonies within/on your body's mucous surfaces. And Echinacea helps your body's immune system by fighting germs through plant acids and provides basic plant supplied anti-oxidents.

The main reason I say grind or crush or dissolve much cheaper by the bulk pills you can buy at Walgreen or the nearest grocery-drug store. It cost 10-50 times as much for the locenges and other mixtures premade on the shelf.

Guest's picture
Michele

I also ascribe to the frequent handwashing,(lots of hand sanitizer when soap and hot water is not available ) lots of water to drink, and keep a 6 foot boundary from anyone sneezing, coughing, or just looking lousy. I have had migraines but no other illnesses for years. And I work with children!

Guest's picture
odżywki

Thanks for your post.Nice webdesign.

Guest's picture
cate

Vitamin D is probably the most important and vital vitamin to fight cold and flu. Some people say it's more important that getting immunized.

Guest's picture

I do not like to use over the counter or even under the counter drugs. I like to heal my body naturally. I like the ideas in this post and I will definitely bookmark this page for when my kids do get sick. Thanks.

Guest's picture

Awesome post.
Nothing like a natural way to combat the common cold.
When I get the flu I always get some high strength Vitamin C and it seems to help fairly quickly

Guest's picture

One other low cost solution that can help when your head is stuffed up is a netti pot! It's kind of gross, but works, and doesn't cost that much to use!

Guest's picture
Guest

OJ works too.

Guest's picture
Adri

Chicken soup is the best for me and its simple to make..

Guest's picture
Guest

I talked to a doctor once, who told me that whenever he starts to feel a cold coming on, he eats as much lemons as he can tolerate- Yes it's super sour, but the bad stuff that's localized in your throat can't stand the acidic environment. At the very least, it slows down the multiplaction of the bad stuff.

Guest's picture
Wellbeing

Whenever I have a cold or flu, I found that gargling apple cider vinegar can also help besides consuming it, and also who are not used to swallowing ACV. If you haven't before then it may sting your throat at first. Mixing it with warm water, but not too much, will reduce the sting and clear your sinuses.

Guest's picture
JJ

I used to be wary of home remedies, having been raised as an American child of the cough syrup generation. I grew up on Robitussin and Dimetapp. But as an adult, educating myself about health became a priority. Now, at the first sign of a runny nose or itchy throat, I eat a spoonful of minced garlic, chase it with honey and ginger tea, and employ nasal irrigation. The cold is usually gone by the next day.

Guest's picture
Guest

Vick's vapor rub on the bottom of your feet will keep you from coughing in the night!
http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2009/10/24/unorthodox-cough-remedy-wins-p...

Guest's picture
Amy

Don't boil the water with the apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar kills while honey heals, but hot water, as opposed to warm, will kill all the good stuff in the honey. Make the water just warm enough to dissolve the honey
I have great teach and have used this "concoction" for years. I only use it 3-4 times a year though.