Home Remedies For Treating Cold And Flu Symptoms (and similar symptoms)

1) Post Nasal Drip
(Excessive mucus dripping down the back of the throat from sinus drainage or mucus from cold. In winter typically viral, in spring/summer – allergies can be the culprit).
Remedy: Rinsing sinuses with salt water; gargling with salt water

Why it works: Sinus drainage is composed of mucous, which gets thick, tenacious, and dangles in the back of the throat like a pendulum, causing drip and cough. Liquifying the mucous by instilling saline in the sinuses (via the nose) dilutes the mucous and helps discharge it from the sinuses.

Gargling, at a local level, will dilute the mucus at the back of the throat offering more temporary relief, and the warm water in it will ease discomfort in the throat.


For the Netty Pot or direct instillation via nasal syringe:
• 1 cup lukewarm water
• 1 tsp non-iodized salt • pinch of baking soda Use twice daily per package directions.
For gargling:
½ tsp salt/cup of room temp or warm water as needed.

2) Cough
Remedy: Swallowing buckwheat honey (warning, only for individuals over a year of age, due to botulism risk)

Why it works: A 2007 study showed that children who received a small dose of buckwheat honey before bedtime slept better and coughed less than those who received either a common over-the-counter cough suppressant (dextromethorphan) or nothing at all.

Darker honeys (like buckwheat) have more antioxidents, and cost less than OTC meds, which have other side effects. Usefulness can perhaps be attributed to the idea that an enzyme that bees add to the nectar produces hydrogen peroxide, an antibacterial agent. For coughs and sore throats, it may be the stickiness and viscosity of honey that makes it work well. It has long been known that demulcents [like honey] can soothe irritated mucous membranes and thereby remove the irritation that is fueling the cough reflex.

• Swallow a tsp of dark honey, as needed.

3) Scratchy/Sore Throat

(Typically viral in winter, environmental drying of back of throat from heat/dry air, occasionally bacterial (strep), and can occur with prolonged post nasal drip) Remedy: Cayenne pepper

Why it works: The main active constituent found in cayenne, and believed by researchers to provide its medicinal benefits, is a substance known as capsaicin. Throughout research, capsaicin has shown to contain pain-relieving properties by hindering the transmission of substance P, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for transmitting pain signals to your brain. Thus, by depleting the functionality of substance P, pain sensations are temporarily numbed. Other compounds found in cayenne known to provide medicinal benefits include flavonoids (antioxidants), carotenoids as well as vitamins C and A.

• Add ¼ - ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper to one cup of boiling water.
• Then add 1 teaspoon of agave nectar or honey for taste.

4) Cold (Rhinoviruses)

Remedy: Chicken Soup, Warm fluids (like tea)

Why it works: Dr. Stephen Rennard (U of Nebraska Med. Ctr.) conducted a study using blood samples from volunteers, he showed that the soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. Dr. Rennard theorizes that by inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells in the body, chicken soup essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.

Chicken soup is also rich in cysteines, which help thin mucous. In another study, Mt. Sinai researchers in Miami found that in general, the hot fluids helped increase the movement of nasal mucus, but chicken soup did a better job than the hot water.

• It's best to have homemade soup with vegetables. • Commercial brands are second best.

5) Bronchitis

(Viral inflammation of the lining of the bronchi (large airway tubes) leading to excessive mucous production, cough, mucous plugging – can lead to secondary infection and wheezing)
Thyme; Eucalyptus oil (inhaled, NOT ingested)

Why it works: Research has shown that thyme is an effective herbal remedy for bronchitis. According to a German study, cough and mucus production was reduced by over 60% with a combination of thyme and primrose. Eucalyptus contains cineole, a powerful antiseptic that makes it a good remedy to have around during cold and flu season. Herbal oils in general belong to a class of compounds called monoterpenes. Studies have shown that combinations of these essential oils were more effective than placebo and as effective as antibiotics for treatment of bronchitis.

• Use two teaspoons of fresh thyme and add boiling water.
• Allow to steep for at least 5 minutes. • Sip. • Drink twice per day to open airways, decrease cough, and speed healing.

• Put 5-10 drops in a hot bath and breathe in the steam to relieve chest congestion. • Alternatively, you can mix eucalyptus oil with olive, neem or coconut oil and rub it on your chest and throat for quick relief.

6) Laryngitis

(Viral inflammation of vocal cords, overuse from coughing, clearing throat or yelling, can be symptom of GERD)
Remedy: Sucking on garlic clove; steaming (with steamer or over the sink)

Why it works: Garlic contains Allicin, a natural anti-viral and antibacterial substance. Steam helps loosen up mucous from post nasal drip, and eases the sore muscles in the vocal cords.

• Place ½ clove in the recess of each cheek and suck for as long as tolerated.
• Fill sink with steaming hot water.
• Stand over it with towel draped over head and shoulders. • Keep adding hot water to keep steam rising.

7) Diarrhea

(Lower intestinal inflammation, typically viral. Can be food-borne, and also bacterial. Can result as secondary effect of taking antibiotics)
Yoghurt with active cultures.

Why it works: With frequent or large stools, bodies lose some of the naturally occurring digestive bacteria essential for processing nutrients and regulating gas. Active culture yoghurt replaces some of what is lost, and helps the gut restore its balance so nutrients can be digested more efficiently.

• Look for active culture yoghurt with Probiotics.

For more information on Dr. JJ Levenstein, visit

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