The weather is changing and so the cold and flu season is encroaching upon us.
All information given on this site is for educational purposes ad should not take the place of your own research, and a doctor’s care. I am not a doctor, but rather, an aspiring herbalist who has been studying and using herbs for 25+ years. Please research beyond this site to determine if herbal and natural remedies found on this site are right for you.
Preparing for the cold and flu season before it happens is the best way to be the family super hero of winter (complete with fashionable cape with your favorite winter shade of blue). Who knows when you or your family members’ next cold will be? Our family tends to get sick at the change of seasons, so making our own medicine to have on hand for those who need them is a great way to head off these minor illnesses before they become full-blown colds or flus.
But What If It’s Not the Cold and Flu Season?
It doesn’t help to wait to stock your fridge and shelves with your natural remedies once people start getting sick. When I do that, it forces me to head out to the nearest Walmart and pick up the medicines that will relieve our symptoms fast. Why?
You know what it’s like when you are sick, and are perhaps experiencing the additional pleasure of at least one family member (if not more) hacking, coughing, throwing up, or sniffling, all at the same time…aaand you have somewhere you need to be today or tomorrow.
At those times, I do tend to fall back on over-the-counter medications if I need my body to get through a full day, or if I need to make sure I can sleep so my body can heal. But that’s not my ideal.
The Anti-Illness Regimen, A Holistic Approach
My ideal is to have a healthy enough body to ride out the cold and flu season, so I tend to take a holistic approach to taking care of myself. What does that mean? Well, Google gives this definition of holistic, as it pertains to medicine:
characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.Google
So the basic idea is to take care of our bodies as a regimen, versus on an “as needed” basis. So rather than waiting until the body is in distress, instead, we practice healthy eating habits, exercise at least 3-4 times per week, take vitamins and supplements that support us nutritionally, and when needed, use herbs to head off illness at the pass.
The alternative? Treat our bodies according to what is comfortable at the time, and when it’s in crisis, try to manage it with herbs until it gets bad enough that we are desperate for relief. Then go to Walmart.
Let’s avoid all that and take care of our bodies–they are our faithful daily workers, and they deserve more than care only when in crisis. And for those times that we can catch the beginnings of a cold and/or flu, let’s get some things made for our treatment kit so that we aren’t caught without them at the first manifestations of illness.
All of these recipes are designed to be quick and easy, and shouldn’t cost a whole lot to make. They are shelf/fridge stable and will be your best friends when you feel a cold and/or flu coming on. Your biggest expense for these will probably be time, so don’t wait to make them!
This tincture is easy to make, but it takes over a month to complete. Start today and you’ll have it on hand when you need it.
1/4 cup dried or 1/2 cup fresh elderberries (I use these dried elderberries)
80 proof vodka
To make it: Add elderberries to a pint jar. Cover to the top with vodka. Store in a dark cupboard for 4-6 weeks, shaking the jar once per week. When done, strain and store in 4 oz. amber glass dropper bottles, or in a mason jar in a dark cupboard.
To use it: 1/4-1/2 tsp. (1-2 dropperfuls) 2-3x daily until well.
NOTE: Research use before using on your children. Do not use for children under 2.
This recipe is from the Intermediate Herbal Course that I took a few years ago with the Herbal Academy. As with the elderberry tincture recipe, this one will need time to steep for maximum effectiveness.
3 tablespoons fresh grated ginger
2 tablespoons fresh grated horseradish
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper
4 cups apple cider vinegar
Honey to sweeten (at least 1 pound)
To make it: Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Mix until completely incorporated. Pour into glass jars and store in a cool, dry cupboard. Allow ginger, horseradish, onion, garlic, and cayenne to steep in the vinegar for at least one month.
NOTE: If you would like to make a smaller batch, just follow this rule of thumb: add half as much honey (in volume) to the amount of steeping herbs and vinegar (i.e., if you have 4 cups of vinegar mixture, you would add 2 cups of honey). Store in a clean mason jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid on your shelf. It will keep for several months, but if you need it to last longer, store in the fridge.
To use it: Take 1 Tbsp. 3x/day when you are coming down with a cold.
WARNING: Research before using this for your children. Do not use for a child under 2 years old.
Soothing Ginger Syrup for Nausea
Recipe Source: Herbal Academy
What is worse than feeling sick to your stomach? Not much! You will definitely want this on your shelf, and because it can be ready on the same day that you make it, you can make it later than the two above recipes.
3 ounces fresh ginger, chopped finely or grated
3 cups of water
1 cup of honey
To make it: Bring water and ginger to a boil, allow to boil for 20-40 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool. Strain ginger from water, making sure to press all the juices out of the ginger and into the liquid. Warm liquid just enough to allow honey to distribute evenly and stir in honey. Mix well. Transfer to a mason jar and store in refrigerator.
NOTES: Add more honey for a thicker syrup.
To use it: Take 1 Tbsp to 1 ounce at a time. Drink as is or add to your favorite hot tea.
WARNING: Research before using for your children. Do not use for children under 1 year old.
Homemade Hand Sanitizer
To make it: Add vodka (or witch hazel), tea tree essential oil, grapefruit seed extract, and eucalyptus essential oil to a small spray bottle. Top off with distilled water and shake all ingredients together until combined.
To use it: Spray on hands (especially if you’ve just sneezed into them!) as needed. Witch hazel isn’t drying to hands, so no need to worry about re-moisturizing. Also fine for spraying on bedding and other frequently-touched surfaces where cold and flu germs can be transmitted.