My Amish friends are predicting a really cold winter based on the fuzz on caterpillars, the shells on acorns, the movement of squirrels, the size of pinecones and the bird migrations. Who knows if any of these predictions are accurate, but I’m actually excited at the prospect of a cold winter this year and hopefully even some snow (as all of you from north of us roll your eyes at this southern girl!). With the onset of cold weather, the common cold, flu, and general sniffles can become a regular occurrence. That’s why I like to stay prepared with a few natural remedies for winter.
Natural Remedies for Winter
My Amish friends are also stocking up on remedies (natural and conventional) in preparation for winter. Travel gets more difficult for them in the snow and ice and they are trying to be prepared ahead of time. In the past, I’ve found that they tend to be right about their predictions most of the time, so I’m working on stocking up too!
In particular, I’m stocking up on my seven favorite natural remedies that I always keep on hand as we approach cold/flu/general illness season. They are:
1. Elderberry Syrup:
I’ve written before about how much I love Elderberry Syrup for warding off cold and flu (or speeding recovery if we get it). My recipe combines dried elderberries, raw honey and herbs for a potent and effective natural syrup.
It is simple to make and much less expensive than store bought versions with similar ingredients.
Here’s my printable Elderberry Syrup Recipe.
2. Vapor Rub
If cough or cold strikes, I like to have homemade vapor rub on hand. I use it on the bottoms of feet and on the back and chest to calm coughing and congestion. Always ask a doctor before using anything herbal on children.
Here is my natural vapor-rub recipe.
3. Fermented Cod Liver Oil
We take fermented cod liver oil daily in the winter for the fat soluble vitamins and Omega-3s. I’ve found that it is especially important during months when I’m not getting Vitamin D from the sun, and from tracking my blood levels of Vitamin D, I absorb the fat soluble vitamins in a whole food supplement like cod liver oil much more easily than isolated capsules of D3.
This is the Fermented Cod Liver Oil I take daily during the winter.
4. Homemade Cough Syrup
Another thing I keep pre-made in the fridge is my homemade cough syrup. It combines raw honey with lemon juice and herbs to help sooth cough or tickling throat easily. I’ve found that the honey/cinnamon combination also helps speed up recovery from many illnesses, even if there isn’t a cough.
Here’s how to make homemade cough syrup.
I’ve written about the benefits of broth and talked about it on my podcast, but broth is a superfood we always have on hand in the winter.
I typically make my own broth and always have some cooking and in the fridge, but you can also buy pre-made broth to save time.
During winter months, I keep raw garlic on hand to speed recovery from illness (and for us in soups and stir frys). I typically mince one clove or raw garlic and drink with water when I feel an illness coming on.
I repeat this every few hours until the illness is gone
I also take probiotics preventatively and extra in case of illness. Hippocrates famously said that all illness begins in the gut, and in winter months, the gut needs some extra TLC. I take Probiotics to keep my gut happy and take a few extra in case of illness.
A little comfort goes a long way. See this post for my real-life version of hygge and the way I keep my winter blues away by staying cozy and making the best of the indoors.
What natural remedies do you keep on hand in the winter?
Discussion (27 Comments)
I know how powerful and beneficial garlic is, but I am extremely intolerant to even a small amount. If I eat some I get massive heartburn, pain and bloating for up to several days. Does anyone have any suggestions for an alternative thats also very strong?
Many of the winter type cold remedies use Ginger as a primary ingredient. Is there another herb that I could use in place of ginger as it seems to give me a very itchy hive all over 🙁
These things certainly make me miss my grandmother! I still swear by eucalyptus on the feet with wool socks! Another thing she would do is to cut open an onion. She would put half on a plate (cut side up or exposed) and leave it on her bedside stand while she slept for a few nights. It would get black and cruddy, but she seemed to recover faster. I read something online about onions will pick up bacteria and germs out of the air and it made me wonder if this cleaned the germs she was breathing out at night while she slept. Have you ever tried this in combination with other remedies? I tried it for my daughter recently and she only had the sniffles for two days versus the average 5 days. I used many of the other remedies you suggested above as well as a humidifier.
I take large quantities of Vitamin-C. If I ever feel a tickle in my throat, vitamin-c. The kids cough, vitamin-c. Asthma acting up, vitamin-c. I buy it by the kilo (a lot cheaper) and make my own capsules (with a capsule machine and empty gelatin capsules).
I used to be one of those “vitamin-C” doesn’t work people. Then I read how you need massive doses (in comparison to RDA standards) for it to work properly.
My kids and I get a lot less sick a lot less often now. Before, they required a visit to the E.R. Now they have a normal cold that lasts only a few days…. Google Andrew Saul.
Activated Charcoal!! Woot!! Make ahead of time and keep in mason jar in cupboard. Then drink at first site of ill feeling. Follow with 8oz glass of water.
Katie, just wondering if you use elderberry syrup daily to strengthen immunity and if sick just up the dose? I have read conflicting things some saying you need to take breaks from elderberry. Also, I have been making your elderberry syrup but have now found another receipe you have that includes lemon juice ( and omits some of the things in the receipe above) Which receipe do you use? thank you love all your articles!!
I love elderberry syrup. My grandma and my mom always had it in the fridge in the winter and spring. I also believe that probiotics help speed up the recovery as well, and there are some studies to support that. I whip some raw cream, add kefir and homemade elderberry syrup and my kids cannot get enough, they call it ice cream :). They just went through their first high fever/cough/and every symptom you can imagine illness; and they recovered so amazingly fast that I could hardly believe it. They didn’t want to eat much of anything but something sweet and mushy, so the kefir concoction worked really well. They drank a lot of raw coconut water and room temperature mild kombucha (without the second ferment, the fizz didn’t feel good on their little throats). I gave them a couple of grated ginger/ACV/powdered mustard baths, after which they would sweat a lot for a couple of hours and wake up feeling much better.
Valeria can you share your recipe for the Kiefer concoction and the mustard bath?
Katie, you mention tracking you vitamin D level in your blood. Do you do this or do the dr. office do it for you. If you do it, how do you do it?
Thanks for all the wonderful advice. Merry Christmas to you and your family……
According to their dosage guide, adults need 8-15 capsules of the cod liver oil/butter blend to per dose to meet their nutritional requirement! That’s insanely expensive. (see https://blog.radiantlifecatalog.com/bid/70257/Fermented-Cod-Liver-Oil-How-much-should-I-take?a=96418 I have seven members in my family. Were you aware of their dosage guide?
I always take chopped cloves of garlic when I feel something coming on, and I drink lots of water or herbal tea. This fall I made fire cider which is apple cider vinegar infused with garlic, onions, horsdradish, and ginger (among other additions you may like). I take a tablespoon of that and follow with water when I feel blah.
I’ve been making my grandkids elderberry syrup for 2 years now and they love it. It seems to help fight colds/flu.
Thanks for all you do to help us stay healthy, Katie!