“The Best Homemade Remedies for Bouncing Back from Winter Bugs.”

Teresa C. Hunsaker, USU Extension, Weber County, Family and Consumer Science Education shares her best homemade recipes with Studio 5.

What are some good home remedies we can use to soothe, comfort, and fight off those aches and pains? What are some homemade remedies you can use to bounce back after the bug has hit?

Keep in mind that when you come down with a cold or the flu, your respiratory tract works hard to expel the invading viruses through that annoying build up of mucus.

Rather than drying those mucus secretions with an over-the-counter antihistamine, it’s better to accelerate the healing process by thinning them, thus making it easier to expel them.

The best way to thin mucus secretions is to add water to your system by drinking warm liquids, especially herbal teas and soup broth, then use some steam to open air passages, and next, relax and warm up. So the first thing: Yes, it is just as we have always heard, drink plenty of liquids!

Dehydration from a fever, or just not drinking enough fluids, should be avoided, even when you have no appetite for food. Adults should drink 8 ounces of fluids every two hours; children, who are more likely to become dehydrated, should sip drinks every half-hour. (Avoid alcoholic beverages, which interact with medications and dehydrate you further.)

Congestion. Counteract by adding moisture to the air with a humidifier, and drink hot, soothing teas-not to mention chicken soup-all of which will help thin the mucus in your nose and relieve congestion.

Gargle with salt water to treat a sore throat (1/2 tsp. salt to 8 oz. warm water)-and drink plenty of hot fluids, suck on lozenges, or try cool treats such as flavored ices and ice cream, all of which work wonders on children (and adults).

Vomiting and diarrhea are sometimes experienced by children with the flu. Contact your child’s doctor and ask what to do at the first sign of gastrointestinal problems. Ensure that your child does not become dehydrated by offering them small, frequent drinks of sports drinks (which help replenish needed electrolytes), flat soda, or flavored ices.

Get rest, and plenty of it.

Try some alternative remedies. Echinacea, garlic, vitamin C, and even zinc have all been tied to flu relief and may boost to your immune system.

Herbal teas/warm drinks:

• Ginger is one spice that has some great properties for soothing (even coughs) and has a number of antiviral properties and helps bring down a fever as well. You can purchase ginger herbal teas, or you can make your own. Use a heaping teaspoon of grated gingerroot in a cup of boiling water—allow to steep 5-10 minutes, then strain, and prepare as you would for any other tea. I like a little lemon juice and honey added. It is valuable for preventing and treating colds, sore throats and inflammation of mucus membranes. Ginger reduces pain and fever and has a mild sedative effect that will encourage rest. Ginger is also delicious in a fruit smoothie.

• Peppermint tea– is a valuable expectorant in the treatment of bronchitis, colds and flu. It reduces fevers by inducing sweating and cooling the body.

• Milk Tea—at the very first signs of a cold mix half teaspoon of both cinnamon and ginger with 2 cups hot milk. Stir in 1 tablespoon honey and drink hot. Oh, so soothing!!!

• Chicken soup or broth—one you have heard of but probably didn’t know it really does have some properties that help relieve cold and flu symptoms. Hot liquids make good decongestants, and as they heat the throat they slow the reproduction cycle of the virus.

Inhalants/Steam Treatments

• Chamomile, eucalyptus, and thyme make a great combination inhalant over steaming water. Place a couple of tablespoons each in a pan of steaming water. Inhale for about 10 minutes (or so) each night to clear breathing passage ways and bronchial tubes. Thyme works as a powerful expectorant and antiseptic, thanks to its constituent oil, thymol. Breathing in the steam, the thymol sets to work through your upper respiratory tract, loosening mucus and inhibiting bacteria from settling down to stay. Make thyme tea in a snap by adding 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves to 1 cup boiling water. Let steep for five minutes while inhaling the steam. Strain the tea, sweeten with honey (to taste), and slowly sip.

• You can augment the power of steam by adding a handful of other decongesting, antimicrobial herbs to the boiled water, then covering the pot and allowing them to steep for 10 to 15 minutes–rosemary, or peppermint leaves can also be used.

• Alternatively, you can add three drops of either eucalyptus or rosemary essential oil to the just boiled water. If you use peppermint, add only one to two drops. Don’t use essential oils of thyme and oregano for steam inhalation — they are too irritating.
Warm baths/Steaming Showers

• Herbal bath bags—place a couple of tablespoons each of chamomile, calendula, rosemary, and/ or lavender in small cheesecloth/muslin bags. Either place directly into hot bath water or steep in boiling water and add infused water to bath.

• Aches & Itches Bath Salt–½ cup baking soda, ½ cup dry milk, 1 cup Epsom salt, 1 cup sea salt, essential oils (use the ones good for clearing nasal passages—such as eucalyptus). Mix all ingredients together in a large ziploc bag. Place about 1/3 cup in hot bath water. Great for relief from muscle aches and chills. Epsom salt, rich in magnesium, is a natural muscle relaxant. Eucalyptus oil eases muscle aches and its steam temporarily relives sinus congestion.

Despite their widespread use, the efficacy of Vitamin C and Echinacea and zinc are still controversial– some vitamin C and Echinacea and zinc users do report a reduced duration and severity of cold symptoms, indicating that they may play some role in respiratory defense mechanisms.

Delicious Cold Remedy

This delicious cold remedy will get rid of symptoms of cold pretty fast. It will also clean your system.

1/4 pound seedless raisins

3 ounces ginger root

3 cups of honey

6 lemons

4 oranges

1 gallon of distilled water

Put the water in a large pan. Add the softened ginger root, honey, and seedless raisins. Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour. Skim the top as needed. Cool, strain and place in a tightly closed container overnight in the refrigerator.

The next day, squeeze 6 lemons and 4 oranges and add to the mixture. Mix well.

Drink 2-3 glasses per day—hot or cold.

Lemon: Hot lemonade has been used as a flu remedy since Roman times and is still highly regarded in the folk traditions of New England. Lemons, being highly acidic, help make mucous membranes distasteful to bacteria and viruses. Lemon oil, which gives the juice its fragrance, is like a wonder drug containing antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory constituents. The oil also acts as an expectorant.

Honey: Honey has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for coughs. Honey acts as a natural expectorant, promoting the flow of mucus.

NOTE: There are other herbals that could also be used—the ones selected for this discussion are easy to find and more universally accepted. Be sure to do your own research and reading on the use of herbal remedies.

Chicken Soup and the Flu

Along with drinking plenty of liquids you may have heard that Chicken Soup is a cure for a cold. Some say it’s the steam that is the real benefit. Sipping the hot soup and breathing in the steam helps clear up congestion.

Irwin Ziment, M.D., pulmonary specialist and professor at the UCLA School for Medicine, says chicken soup contains drug-like agents similar to those in modern cold medicines. For example, an amino acid released from chicken during cooking chemically resembles the drug acetylcysteine, prescribed for bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

Spices that are often added to chicken soup, such as garlic and pepper (all ancient treatments for respiratory diseases), work the same way as modern cough medicines, thinning mucus and making breathing easier.

Another theory, put forth by Stephen Rennard, M.D., chief of pulmonary medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, is that chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory. The soup, he says, keeps a check on inflammatory white blood cells (neutrophils). Cold symptoms, such as coughs and congestion, are often caused by inflammation produced when neutrophils migrate to the bronchial tubes and accumulate there.

These researchers (at the University of Nebraska Medical Center) have confirmed that the old adage of serving the sick person grandma’s chicken soup is not a myth. As the flu virus attacks the body, the area becomes inflamed, which causes the flu’s characteristic stuffiness and cough. They added chicken soup to some samples of the white blood cells that trigger inflammation and found that the soup inhibited their activity. The researchers speculate that the soup’s ability to reduce inflammation may in part explain its familiar comforting qualities.
So which is better, homemade or canned? Researchers at the University of Nebraska compared homemade chicken soup with canned versions and found that many, though not all, canned chicken soups worked just as well as soups made from scratch.


Don’t despair if the flu has already caught up with you. Feeling rotten with the flu is a given. Your body shuts down all non-essential systems so it can fight off the bugs. Because it has had to fight pretty hard in some cases you will feel “depleted” of energy and appetite.

Usually, because you have not felt like eating you will want to get back on track by eating healthy. In fact some say a good rule is to eat 10-15 calories per pound of “desired body weight.” If your ideal weight is 170 lbs, then consume 1700-2550 calories a day (1700 for sedentary individuals and 2550 for extremely active types.) Try to eat really nutrient rich foods to get your body back on track.

One important consideration is to not try to bounce back too quickly. Continue to get plenty of rest—your body has worked hard to fight off the flu. Wait a day or two after your symptoms are gone and your temperature is normal before resuming your normal activities or a relapse may be in store.


How Stuff Works—internet

Center for Disease Control

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