Dr. Pingel’s 7 Best Home Remedies for Cold and Flu
When you come down with a cold or the flu, you want to get well as quickly as possible. And one of the best ways to do that is by using time-tested, proven home remedies for cold and flu that will actually help you feel better fast.
Here are some of my top home remedies for cold and flu that I use at home and also recommend to my patients. Incorporating these natural home remedies will help you ease some of those tougher symptoms caused by a cold or the flu.
7 Best Home Remedies for Cold and Flu
As always, before trying any of these home remedies, make sure you speak with your physician to discuss your individual case.
1. Load up on vitamin C.
You’ve likely heard that one of the best home remedies for cold and flu is to take vitamin C. But does vitamin C help colds? In a 2013 review of over 29 trials, researchers confirmed that taking vitamin C while suffering from a cold can decrease both the severity of symptoms and duration of illness. 
But not just any old amount of vitamin C will do. I recommend taking as much vitamin C as your bowel will tolerate—and this can vary from 2000 IU to 10,000 IU daily. When you’re sick, your body requires a lot more vitamin C than it does when you’re well, so be prepared to take up to 10,000 IU. But don’t just start off there.
So, where do you begin? Start with 2000 IU. If you’re not experiencing loose stools in 1-2 hours, take another 2000 IU and so on until your bowels are impacted. When your bowels start to become loose, you’ll know that’s the highest amount of daily vitamin C you can take.
2. Take oil of oregano.
Oregano oil has long been hailed for its anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It’s been used for thousands of years as a natural treatment for many respiratory illnesses. And a 2011 study showed that oregano oil was able to inhibit different human and animal viruses in vitro.  As such, it’s a great addition to your medicine cabinet any time of year—but especially during cold and flu season.
I recommend taking oil of oregano capsules the second you begin to feel any cold or flu symptoms. Take 2-3 capsules per day between meals for up to two weeks. If your symptoms linger beyond that, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with your physician.
3. Stay hydrated.
Another one of my top home remedies for cold and flu is to make sure you stay adequately hydrated. Not only will staying hydrated help to keep you mucus thin, but it will also help keep other illnesses at bay.
In fact, a new study showed that people who drink three glasses of water each day are five time more likely to experience a stuffy nose or sore throat than those who drink eight glasses or more. Furthermore, people who drink only two and a half glasses (or less) are approximately four times more likely to get the flu than those who drink three or more glasses daily. 
So, how much water should you be drinking when you’re sick with a cold or the flu? I typically recommend you drink half your body weight in ounces, meaning a person weighing 170 pounds should drink 85 ounces of water daily to maintain hydration. But when you’re sick, you need more. Try to incorporation an additional 32-64 ounces daily and focus on eating hydrating foods.
4. Inhale essential oils.
Essential oils are great home remedies for cold and flu—you just have to know which ones to use. I’ve found that inhaling eucalyptus, bergamot, thyme, and thieves oils either by simply smelling them from the bottle or using a diffuser are especially effective when fighting a cold or the flu. Here’s why.
A 2013 double-blind study showed that Cineole, the main constituent in eucalyptus oil, greatly reduced coughing episodes in patients with acute bronchitis in just four days.  Additionally, a 2014 study showed that the vapor of both bergamot and eucalyptus oils were “very active against influenza virus” after only 10 minutes of exposure. Furthermore, thyme oil was shown to help inhibit the flu virus. 
Finally, thieves oil combines the powerful effects of the following essential oils: cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lemon, and rosemary. It’s commonly used to help boost the immune system, fight nasal congestion, and more.
5. Take Epsom salt baths.
If you find that you’re achy, one of my favorite home remedies for cold and flu is to take a detox bath with Epsom salts. Not only are Epsom salt baths known for help to draw out toxins from your body, but they’re also great to help reduce fevers, which can make your body ache.
In fact, one study showed that taking an Epsom salt bath increased magnesium levels in participants’ blood and urine.  Magnesium has been shown to reduce body aches and pains.
6. Take daily probiotics.
You may be surprised to find that one of my go-to home remedies for cold and flu is to take a high-dose daily probiotic. How high? I find that 100 billion CFU daily helps the most.
While commonly associated with gut health, probiotics helps to soften your body’s inflammatory response to a cold or the flu. In turn, this can lessen the severity of your symptoms, which are actually your body inflammatory responses to the virus—or its way of trying to fight off the virus.
So, how effective are probiotics when fighting a cold or the flu? A 2012 study conducted on college students shows that those who took probiotics received the following effects, when compared to those who didn’t take probiotics: On average, their colds ended two days sooner and their symptoms were 34 percent less severe! 
7. Try out some old standards.
Sometimes the simplest home remedies for cold and flu can be great methods to use with the items above. So, if you have a Neti Pot, give it a try to relieve your stuffy nose. You can also use a heating pad or even a hot water bottle on your chest to help open your airways and promote easier breathing. And don’t forget to get plenty of rest so your body can heal.
- While the common cold and flu are both viruses that must run their course, there are several home remedies for cold and flu that you can utilize to cut down on the duration and severity of your symptoms.
- Make sure you stay hydrated and take as much vitamin C (up to 10,000 IU) as your bowels will tolerate.
- You can also take oil of oregano internally (see the precautions above), take probiotics, and run certain cold- and flu-fighting essential oils in a diffuser to help make you more comfortable.
- Finally, don’t forget to rest so your body can heal. If your cold or flu symptoms aren’t improving, make sure to consult with your physician for further treatment.