Herbal Remedies for Colds, Sore Throats and the Flu

When I was a sophomore in college, I bragged one day about how I never got sick because of my killer immune system.

(Yeah, you can imagine what happened next.)

Not only did I promptly come down with a raging cold–like, the very next day–but soon after that, my stressed-out, over-worked, double-majoring body came down with Shingles.

Universe, 1; Jolie, 0.

Oscillococcinum helps ward off the flu

Does Oscillococcinum actually work? Beats me. Do I take it anyway? Yep.

Over the years since, I’ve sought out herbal and natural remedies for warding off sickness. While I’ll never again make the mistake of tempting fate…here, I present to you a few of my favorite tricks for trying to stay healthy!

Oil of Oregano: It’s a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent, and has seriously amazing antioxidant powers. Just last week, I woke up with a massively sore throat, runny nose and general sense of exhaustion. I thought, “Noooo! It’s that horrible cold striking down all my friends!” and promptly drank 4 drops of Oil of Oregano in a glass of water. (I then had a hot toddy that night, ’cause, you know, whiskey wins.) The next morning? Bam: cold successfully circumvented. Oil of Oregano burns like the devil, so dissolve only a few drops in a large glass of water, and drink slowly. You can get it at Whole Foods in the essential oils section.

Ginger tea with Cayenne and Lemon: When I was a kid, my dad was always whipping up concotions that he’d learned from his mother: usually involving spices and roots. Ginger is a known immune-booster, and the lemon and cayenne respectively contain vitamin C and capsaicin, which helps raise your body temperature. Plus, this combination simply tastes gooood. Just chop up a fresh stick of ginger into cubes, drop into some cold water, and then bring to a boil before turning the heat down, letting it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Squeeze in some fresh lemon, add cayenne, and throw in a pinch of my grandmother’s secret health-boosting spice: cumin. Deeeelicious–and it seriously works.

Manuka Honey: My little brother P. swears by this stuff. It’s not cheap (I mean, at all: $30 for honey!) but it’s one of those incredibly powerful, everybody-who-knows-about-it-is-absolutely-obsessed-with-it items. Basically, it’s a special form of extra-antibacterial honey from New Zealand that super charges your system. Take a teaspoon in the morning, glop it on toast, or drizzle into your tea. And then take out a second mortgage on your house.

Smartmune to help ward off colds

SmartMune occupies a position of honor on my bathroom sink

Smartmune: As I blogged a few months ago, I love these Immune System Support tablets, featuring something called Wellmune WGP. What is it? No idea. (Okay, a slight idea: it claims to activate billions of innate immune cells in your body.) I genuinely have no clue if these are doing anything for me or not, but I’d rather be safe than cold-y, you know?

Vitamin C, Zinc and Echinacea: The magical trio of vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea is hardly a secret, but I’d be remiss in not including: it works! Zinc has been proven to reduce the duration of colds, but you need to take it ASAP, as soon as you feel yourself getting sick. I normally take a zinc tablet every day during cold/flu season, and then double down with the vitamin C + echinacea when people around me start dropping like flies.

Oscillococcinum: French people are obsessed with these homeopathic anti-flu pills, which are basically duck liver and duck heart distilled into tiny tablets. (Betcha didn’t know that.) Again, I don’t know if they actually work–that’s the general theme of homeopathy, IMO–but I pop ’em like candy during flu season…just in case.

Stay healthy, my friends!

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1 Comment

  1. E.

    Manuka honey! Yeah, good stuff. I like to drizzle it into my tea, as well as on my face. Great face mask. Multitasking for the win!