Natural Remedies for Cold & Flu Season


     By: Michelle Owens


    If you rang in the New Year sneezing  “atchoo” instead of singing Auld Lange Syne, join the party! So far, one of the most memorable events of 2013 has been the cold and flu season. It started earlier, spread faster and hit stronger than any other season in nearly a decade.


    Getting the flu shot is considered the best preventative measure, but it’s not a sure shot. The Centers for Disease Control reports that this season’s vaccine so far is reducing the risk of having to go to the doctor for influenza by about 60% for vaccinated people.” 


    To boost immunity and soothe the effects of cold and flu bugs, many people also like to incorporate natural and alternative remedies into their health care regimen.  This can range from enjoying a simple home yoga practice or massage to stimulate the lymphatic system to trying herbal remedies, aromatherapy and vitamin therapies.


    When you have a stuffy head cold, nothing feels better than a gentle yoga practice at home, followed by a steam inhalation treatment with Eucalyptus essential oil and a steaming cup of herbal tea containing Echinacea and Goldenseal.


    The yoga can ease the congestion in your sinuses and chest as well as help stimulate the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is the body’s network of vessels and nodes that circulates lymph – a transparent fluid rich in white blood cells that forms an important part of the body’s immune system and helps remove toxins. While the circulatory system has the heart to pump blood through the body’s network of vessels, the lymphatic system has no such pump. It relies on bodily movement to move lymph. Make sure you practice your yoga at home instead of at your favorite yoga studio to avoid spreading those pesky germs.


    Aromatherapy using eucalyptus essential oil alleviates nasal congestion. By placing a few drops of Eucalyptus oil in to a bowl of steaming water, covering the head with a towel and inhaling the steam, you can find relief for those stuffy nasal passages.


    Herbs like Echinacea and Goldenseal have long been used as folk remedies to fight upper respiratory infections such as the common cold, and are currently being studied by the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) due to promising early studies about the effectiveness of these herbs.


    If you’re considering this path to wellness, one of the most trusted sources for information is NCCAM.  The agency’s website at is a goldmine of information on alternative wellness methods like yoga, massage, meditation and herbal remedies. The “Herbs-At-A Glance” section of the website is particularly helpful.

    NCCAM also reports that Zinc taken orally may reduce the length and severity of a cold. For most people, taking Vitamin C supplements on a regular basis slightly reduces the length and severity of colds, but does not reduce the number of colds they catch.


    If you decide to explore a natural path to wellness, just keep in mind that natural does not always mean safe. Some natural treatments are contraindicated for pregnancy, high blood pressure and other health issues, so discuss this with your family doctor first. And check out these great resources:


    Local Resources


    Printed Resources


    Online Resources



    About the author: Michelle Owens, a Yoga Alliance-registered yoga teacher and owner of Yoga East studio ( in downtown Avalon Park, can’t even remember the last time she was felled by a cold or flu bug. She credits her regular yoga practice, love of herbal teas and occasional aromatherapy treatments. She can be reached at