Homemade Cold & Flu Remedies

Homemade Cold & Flu Remedies

By: Cari Eisler, Non-food and Supplement Buyer, Collective manager 

and Malerie Plaughter, Member-Owner

It’s the inevitable time of year when, the common cold and various strains of the flu are being passed around like they’re going out of style. It’s important to take action as soon as you notice symptoms of a virus affecting your body. Why? Because you can reduce the ability of a virus duplicating itself, meaning you can put the brakes on the virus spreading. 

There are many herbal remedies, both in supplement form and do-it-yourself methods, that can help accomplish this and ultimately make you feel a whole lot better.


Elderberries are proven effective against the respiratory and influenza virus. A virus duplicates inside your cells and gains access to your cells using the enzyme nueraminidase. Elderberries are nueraminidase inhibitors and stop replication.  Try the following recipe to make your own Elderberry syrup.



  • 2 cups dehydrated or 4 cups fresh elderberries
  • 8 cups water
  • Raw honey to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon and cloves (optional)


Soak berries overnight if dry. When ready to make, rinse the berries. Combine them with water in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Simmer for about 45 minutes. Let everything cool to room temperature, then strain out the berries, and mash the liquid out. Keep the liquid. Stir in raw honey to taste. Let cool and store in fridge. 

Take 1-2 teaspoons each day for preventative measures. Added bonus? It tastes delicious and you can put it on pancakes. When taken regularly, elderberry syrup is a fantastic supplement during the fall and winter months – even year-round.  (Important note: uncooked elderberries may make you feel sick.)

No time to make your own?  Try our Grab 'n Go Favorite: Rainbow Light’s Counter Attack 

This formula was developed by well-known herbalist Christopher Hobb’s. In the formula elderberry, isatis, sophora root (also a neuraminidase), berberine and andographis mobilize the body’s acute immune response. Included in the formula is a Clear Relief herbal compound that includes sophora root, yerba santa, platycodon, horehound, mullein, Iceland moss, coptis, Chinese lovage, and Chinese licorice. 

Or pick up Mickleberry’s Elderberry Syrup, locally made and available here at People’s.


Similar to elderberries, fresh ginger can stop a virus from spreading. But it is also a hemagglutinin inhibitor, meaning it stops a virus from binding itself to the epithelial cells of the lungs. It’s effective for shortening an infection, thinning the mucus, and slowing the spread of a virus.  Try a ginger juice tea recipe from renowned herbalist Stephen Harrod Buhner’s book, Herbal Antibiotics. According to Buhner, fresh ginger is the most effective form of ginger. 

Ginger Juice Tea 

  • At the first sign of infection juice 1-2 lbs of fresh organic ginger. 
  • Combine 3-4 oz of ginger juice with a tablespoon of honey, 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 6 oz of hot water. 
  • Drink 2 to 6 cups of this mixture a day

Fire Cider

Fire Cider has been used ever since the 1970s when Rosemary Gladstar, herbalist extraordinaire created it to ward off the bad bugs and keep folks in good health. It’s a spicy mix of alliums and capsicums, fruits, herbs, and warming spices, combined with antioxidant-rich raw honey and the rock star of the health world (no, not coconut oil) - unpasteurized apple cider vinegar.


  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup each:
  • Minced fresh garlic
  • Grated fresh ginger
  • Diced onion
  • Grated horseradish
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-4 tablespoons diced hot peppers
  • Half unpeeled orange, sliced
  • Half unpeeled lemon, sliced
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup each: chopped fresh rosemary, stemmed fresh thyme, chopped fresh turmeric (or2 tablespoons dried turmeric powder)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2-3 cups raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar


Mix all dry ingredients and honey in a quart mason jar (with a plastic lid). Cover with apple cider vinegar by an inch or so. Shake until the honey incorporates and let steep for at least two weeks, preferably four weeks. After it is fermented, strain out the solid ingredients and store in the pantry or refrigerator (where it will keep for up to a year). Enjoy a swig a day, or more when you are feeling ill.

While you wait for your fire cider to ferment or to avoid making it yourself altogether, check out Gee Creek Farm’s fire cider, which is available at our Wednesday Farmers' Market.

Other Feel-Good Remedies:

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is associated with immune system functioning, viral respiratory infections, depression and a number of other health concerns. It may be helpful to get your Vitamin D levels tested because you may need higher doses temporarily to get up to ideal levels. Increasing your levels can help with depression and stress both of which make a person more susceptible to viral infection. 

Try This!

  • Vitamin D3 from Garden of Life (Vegan)
  • Lanolin Source D3 from Source Naturals (drops) 
  • Vitamin D capsule from Deva (Vegan)

Mycomedicinals (Medicinal Mushrooms)

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), two of this year's most common seasonal flus are influenza A (H1N1) virus and influenza A (H3N2) virus. Cordyceps, a variety of medicinal mushrooms, are known to be a potent antiviral against H1N1.  

Try This!

  • 14 Mushroom Powder (in the bulk herbs section)
  • Host Defense Stamets 7 Daily Immune Support
  • Vitamin D capsule from Deva (Vegan)
  • Host Defense Myco shield spray - designed to protect susceptible oral tissue when traveling with the potent viracide Agarikon

Essential Oils

Simply breathing steam that has essential oils can help improve airflow and thin mucus. Thyme, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils all have antiviral capacity, and all you have to do is add a few drops of these oils to a pot of water that has just boiled, and breathe in the steam. Your sinuses will thank you. You can find the Veriditas and Snow Lotus lines of essential oils in tinctures People’s, both of which come from organically grown or wildcrafted plants. 

Sinus Blaster

Sinus Blaster tincture sold in bulk at People's. 

Sinus Blaster tincture sold in bulk at People's. 

Another option is our bulk tincture called Sinus Blaster, which contain elderberry, osha, olive leaf, horseradish and other herbs like echinacea augustifolia root.

Moral of the story, don’t wait until the last minute to feel better. Next time you’re at the co-op try one of the many way natural ways to kick that cold!