Winter flu season survival guide: How to fight colds with natural remedies like lemon, ginger, turmeric and honey

At this time of year, late autumn and early winter, it feels as though everyone has a cold and we know that we’re inevitably going to catch it too.

While dosing ourselves with paracetamol can help, natural remedies such as elderberry syrup could also give you an extra boost and relieve some of the nasty symptoms – such as a sore throat, a tickly cough or a blocked nose.

Read on to find out which ingredients can help you to fight off a cold and try our natural cold-fighting recipes for immune system-boosting syrups, teas and more.

Natural cold remedy recipes

Rebecca Sullivan's homemade cough syrup recipe

Homemade cough syrup recipe by Rebecca Sullivan

Rebecca’s soothing cough syrup can be flavoured with elderberries, hawthorn berries, lemon verbena and a variety of herbs and spices. Stir it into a hot drink or take a spoonful before bed.

 

Tom yum tea recipe

Tom yum tea recipe by Rachel de Thample

At the first sign of a cold, brew up some of this delicious tom yum tea to ward off the dreaded lurgy. Chef and forager Rachel says: “Take two to three times a day when you feel a cold coming on.”

 

Rachel de Thample's elderberry syrup with echinacea

Elderberry syrup with echinacea recipe by Rachel de Thample

In an ideal world, we’d be able to avoid everyone who has a cold, but if you can’t then you need something else to fortify you. If you’ve been around someone who’s ill, then take a few spoonfuls of this throughout the day for a couple of weeks.

 

Rachel de Thample's everyday health tonic recipe

Everyday health tonic recipe by Rachel de Thample

This fiery tonic can be kept for up to six months, so you can just take a dose whenever you start to feel a bit snuffly. Its warming ingredients include cayenne to improve your circulation and ginger to calm inflammation.

 

Jasmine Hemsley's golden milk recipe

Golden milk recipe by Jasmine Hemsley

This warming golden milk recipe by Jasmine Hemsley is sure to give you a fighting chance of beating the common cold, as it contains turmeric – a well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient.

 

Fresh blueberries in a bowl

What is good to eat when you have a cold?

1. Fruit and veg high in vitamin C

Vitamin C is the one everyone knows (after all, honey and lemon is a classic cold-buster). Vitamin C supports the immune system and can help your body to fend off a cold, although it probably won’t help you to recover more quickly. Stock up on blueberries, oranges and lemons and don’t skimp on the leafy greens either.

2. Turmeric

This golden spice is packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant goodness and can help you avoid colds. Plus it tastes great in hot drinks and curries!

3. Honey

Honey is naturally anti-bacterial and can help to soothe a sore throat. Add it to your hot drinks.

4. Chillies

Chillies contain capasaicin, which can help to clear your airways. If you’re not a fan of chillies, ginger and mustard can give you a similar kick.

5. Chocolate

Possibly our favourite cold remedy! Studies have found that the theobromine found in chocolate treats coughs as effectively as codeine. Aim for chocolates with high cocoa solids for best results.

6. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are great for your immune system because they’re high in zinc, which is anti-viral and an antioxidant. If you don’t fancy eating seeds, other good sources of zinc include spinach, chicken, nuts, beans and mushrooms.

7. Cheese

Foods high in vitamin D – like cheese – can help to protect against acute respiratory tract infections. Get more vitamin D in your diet by eating foods like salmon, eggs, mushrooms and tofu.

8. Ginger

Ginger is another great anti-inflammatory and can help to reduce nausea if you’re feeling a bit queasy. It can also improve your circulation as it contains magnesium, chromium and zinc. It can help to clear your airways if you’re feeling chesty too.

Photos by Nick Hopper, Ali Allen, Nassima Rothacker, and John-Mark Kuznietsov, Anda Ambrosini and Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash