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The symptoms of the cold and flu are numerous: fever, chills, sore throat, runny nose, body aches... and feeling downright miserable. Each season, we hope to elude these familiar nemeses, and yet they have a way of creeping in season after season, no matter how healthy our diet or lifestyle.

The cold and the flu are both respiratory infections caused by viruses, but while often lumped together, they do have different symptoms. According to experts, colds come on gradually over the course of a few days and can last for roughly a week.1 Colds also have milder symptoms than the flu, which has more severe and intense symptoms and can last upwards of two weeks.

Plenty of rest and hydration are recommended to recoup from both a cold and the flu. Other holistic remedies, like the ones listened below, may help to provide relief and could even prevent illness in the first place.

Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, NSAIDs, and decongestants may be taken if advised by a doctor or medical provider.

Cold and Flu Holistic Remedies

1. Water. Consuming enough fluids and drinking water is essential. Water with lemon is a great choice, according to WebMD2, which notes that in addition to keeping you hydrated, water "loosens up" pesky stuffiness and congestion. Add some lemon to that water for more flavor and vitamin C, which, according to WebMD, may make a cold slightly shorter if you consume it regularly.

2. Bone Broth. Along with plenty of water, drinking could be a nourishing cold and flu holistic remedy. Some research seems to show that bone broth is rich in amino acids, fats, minerals, vitamins, and collagen, among other nutrients that support healing.3 Bone broth can be sipped on its own or added to soups and stews for a warm and hearty meal.

3. Herbal Teas. Drinking warm herbal tea, like ginger, licorice, slippery elm, and echinacea can help to soothe a sore throat. Add a tablespoon of raw honey for even more antimicrobial and antibacterial benefits, or a drop of oil of oregano can help to reduce infections, clear sinuses, and boost the immune system.

4. Elderberry syrup is a holistic tonic shown to have potent healing properties (see our recipe for homemade elderberry syrup). A 2016 study found that when participants consumed elderberry extract lozenges, their severity and duration of cold- and flu-like symptoms decreased.4 Elderberry syrup is also rich in flavonoids, vitamins A, C, and E, copper, zinc, potassium, and iron, and it's easy to add to your diet thanks in part to its delicious flavor.

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5. Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. Certain supplements such as vitamin C, D, and zinc may help to reduce cold and flu symptoms and duration. One 2015 study found that zinc supplements taken within 24 hours of symptoms could reduce a runny nose, sneezing, irritated throat, hoarseness, and cough.5

Vitamin D can protect against both the cold and flu, according to a 2017 study.6 This vitamin can be obtained from sunlight, foods like egg yolks, meat, and fatty fish, and supplementation, which is often recommended to those who live in northern climates during the winter.

Vitamin C is necessary for immune function and collagen production (read our guide to the best collagen supplements), and it also shows some promise as a preventative measure when consumed daily. Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, notes however, "The data show that vitamin C is only marginally beneficial when it comes to the common cold.”

6. Aromatherapy. For congestion relief, talk with your doctor about using aromatherapy. Eucalyptus essential oil may help to open airways when put through a diffuser, for example, and calming oils like lavender may help you find some comfort.7

7. Sleep. Finally, rest is key to healing the body from the cold and flu. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Unplug devices, turn off Netflix, and get some much needed pillow time.

If you feel like you want more immune support year round, you can also check our wellness supplements in the Organic Authority Shop. Check with your primary care physician to see which supplements and lifestyle changes are right for you. 

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Sources

1. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-flu/cold-or-flu#symptoms
2. https://symptoms.webmd.com/cold-flu-map/how-to-stay-hydrated-when-youre-sick
3. https://www.popsci.com/story/health/bone-broth-claims/
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848651/
5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4359576/
6. https://www.bmj.com/content/356/bmj.i6583
7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314245

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