Natural Remedies For Colds And Flu

October 14, 2010

Following on from the last blog post hopefully some of you have made some elderberry syrup to help boost your immune system or to shorten the duration of any colds you may have had. We’ve used a small bottle up already, luckily both my daughters love the taste of it and drink it as a cordial. I prefer it hot with a squeeze of lemon juice – my thanks go to Karen Lawton of Sensory Solutions who made this for us at the last Hertfordshire Herb Group meeting. Adding the lemon juice improves the taste and adds vitamin C to the drink.

This article details and references other remedies that may help you when you have a cold or flu.

If you have a cold I think we all know the quickest way to get over the worst of it is to….. do nothing i.e. rest completely and keep warm. When me and my brothers were younger, my mum used to do this – as soon as she had a cold she would just go to bed for a whole day and sip hot honey and lemon drinks and we were always amazed that she seemed fine the next day. However, in this day and age most of us including me don’t feel able or just can’t or don’t want to do this so the following remedies are to ease the symptoms or ward off colds as far as possible.

There are some other commonsense strategies here.

Cold and Flu Tea

Mix equal parts of dried peppermint, yarrow and peppermint; a popular mix to help ward off colds.

There are lots of recipes for cold/cough syrups and teas here.

A syrup is used to treat colds, coughs, flu, mucus congestion and sore throats. They are soothing to the throat and a more palatable way to take herbs especially for children. They should keep for about a month in the refrigerator. Take a teaspoon of the syrup as needed. (If you do not store them in the refrigerator there is a risk that they will ferment and the bottle may explode!).

A basic recipe for the licorice and thyme cough syrup is:

Make a tea of your herbs (dried thyme), using half a cup of herbs to 2 cups of boiled water and allow to infuse.

For herb roots eg licorice root, you will need to make a decoction which is just a matter of simmering the roots for 15 minutes in a covered pan.

Then add the dried thyme or flowers/leaves (that you prepared above) and steep covered for another 20 minutes.

Strain through muslin or a jelly bag. While still warm, add half a cup of honey and stir well until dissolved; taste to check if sweet enough for you. If using sugar add 1 pound of sugar to 1 pint of liquid.

Stir well until dissolved.

Pour into sterilised glass bottles with a cork lid or other tight lid. Place in refrigerator once cool and use within one month.

Some examples of herbs that can be used are licorice, ginger, elderberry (see last newsletter for the recipe for this one; very slightly different method), lemon balm, fennel or thyme.

Other drinks

I’m sure most of you know the hot lemon and honey drink which is good for relieving cold symptoms. You can also add grated ginger root if you are feeling cold.

Also check this blog post article:

The Cold And Flu Recipe That Works Like Magic

The website also details some herbal inhalations that may be helpful on this page. This page also details the benefits of taking Echinacea when taken at the onset of a cold or flu.


Enjoy some nourishing chicken soup, onion soup whilst you recover; they will warm you up and give your system a rest from heavier meals so it has more energy to heal you.

You can find a recipe for the Herby Onion Soup on my blog.

Vapour rubs and more recipes can be found on the website here.

Please note that some herbs which are beneficial in small doses can be harmful if taken to excess or for a long period. You are advised that self-treatment for serious or long-term problems without consulting a qualified medicinal practitioner should not be attempted. If you are pregnant or already taking any medication, you should obtain medical advice on whether any herbs or spices should be consumed and whether there are any contra-indications with the proposed herbs to be taken. Taking this into account, before trying any herbal remedies, I recommend that you sample a small quantity first to establish whether you experience any adverse or allergic reaction. I can not be held responsible for any adverse reactions to the recipes, recommendations and instructions contained in the article, and the use of any herbs or spices mentioned is entirely at the reader’s own risk.

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