Our 9 Go-to Remedies For Cold And Flu

It’s officially cold and flu season, and it’s already hit the nation hard this year. As busy professionals (and moms) we know how tough it can be when viruses hit-home—so being prepared is a must. To help, we’ve organized our favorite science-backed, go-to natural remedies which can help you fight off colds and flu fast. 

#1: Go to bed, and go to sleep ASAP

Easier said than done, right? But rest (which means taking the day off work, childcare, etc.) is truly your very best ally in a speedier recovery for several scientifically documented/common sense reasons. #1: It reduces the risk of complications, such as pneumonia1. #2: Sleep allows your body’s flu-fighting immune cells to better attach to the virus2, and boosts your overall immune response3. #3: Sleep reduces stress, and stress is a significant antagonist to your immunity. 

So, call in to work, arrange for childcare, grab a big bottle of water and a thermos of immune-boosting tea, and hit the hay for the day.

Extra tip for nursing moms: Few things are more stressful than coming down with a virus when you’re nursing a baby. However, per the Center for Disease Control the flu cannot be transmitted via breast milk. Plus, your milk produces antibodies that will protect baby from contracting the virus before you even notice your own symptoms4! So, have your husband or partner bring baby to you to nurse like usual, wash your hands before nursing, then give baby back and get back to sleep! You’ll also want to drink lots of fluids to keep up your supply, and you can also wear a protective mask during nursing sessions for extra insurance.

#2: Pop some oscillococcinum straight away

This once hard-to-find homeopathic remedy is now widely available online and at retail stores across the nation. It’s been proven to shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms when taken at the first signs of infection with zero side effects5

Since oscillo works best when taken at the first sign of symptoms (scratchy throat, runny nose, sneezing, etc.) we recommend stocking up ahead of time so you have it when you need it.

#3: Keep the air clean

This is an excellent preventative and treatment measure for stopping the spread of airborne pathogens. The easiest way to do this is to open your windows for 10-20 minutes in the morning and afternoon. Better yet, if it’s not too cold out, keep the windows cracked all day. Otherwise, running a high-quality air purifier and diffusing immune-boosting/antimicrobial organic essential oils like cinnamon, tea tree, eucalyptus, thyme, frankincense and lavender6 can help you get better faster.

#4: Elderberry syrup and elderflower tea

There are plenty of herbs that help boost immunity. But, it’s hard to beat the elder plant for both proven effectiveness and palatability. Elderberry syrup is very popular with families because it’s affordable, tastes great, and has been proven to significantly reduce the duration and symptoms of cold, flu, and upper respiratory infections 7, 8,9. Note: research shows it is most effective when taken within 24-48 hours of onset of symptoms.

When choosing an elderberry syrup, be sure to look for a brand sweetened with honey and/or stevia, and avoid brands with added sugar (as sugar depresses immune function), artificial colors, flavors (even natural flavors are a no-no), or preservatives. We like Joyspring brand for our daughters! 

We also recommend drinking elderflower tea. While not as well-known as the berry, the flower of the elder plant also contains anti-viral, anti-microbial properties and is delicious and soothing to sip on with honey10

#5: Let a healthy fever burn

So many of us were taught that a fever is a dangerous thing to be treated with over-the-counter drugs; when in fact a fever is one of your body’s best defenses against viruses. Plus, research shows there is zero evidence that the presence of a fever worsens the course of an illness or causes long-term neurological damage11. Thus, if you lower a healthy fever you can actually hinder your body’s ability to fight off infection. 

What is a healthy fever? Firstly, a fever is defined as a temperature over 100.4, so anything less than that is no cause for concern. Second, most doctors will tell you not to let a child’s fever go higher than 104 degrees and 103 for adults. Note: Since opinions on this can vary based on your health history, age, etc. it’s best to talk to your doctor for individual advice.

Typically, fever that accompanies the flu is around 102-103, which is perfectly safe to leave alone. The best medicine is to stay hydrated, rest, and support your immune system with the remedies suggested here. If you do need to take steps to reduce your fever, elderberry tea can be effective, as can a lukewarm bath, eating a few bites of food, the homeopathic Belladonna, and iodine baths. We avoid drug-based fever-reducers like NSAIDs, as they have all been associated with dangerous side effects like a significant increase heart attack risk or stroke (and by significant increase we mean 50% or more)12, autism (when given to children to reduce fever and in pregnant women)13, renal insufficiency, and liver damage14 to name but a few.

#6: Try oil of oregano or olive leaf extract

Many people reach for the popular herb, echinacea when they get sick—and we LOVE echinacea too—however, new research has shown echinacea is most effective as a preventative15. Thus, we reach for olive leaf extract or oil of oregano when dealing with any type of virus. 

The active phytochemical compound in olive leaf extract, oleuropein, has been proven to help suppress viruses while boosting the immune system1617. Oil of oregano not only fights the flu but is also antibacterial (which is excellent for co-infections of the sinuses, ears, upper respiratory tract, etc.) and can also help calm an upset stomach18.

#7: Stay hydrated with these liquids

Staying hydrated is critical to a speedy recovery. Our go-to liquids include plenty of filtered water, coconut water (look for 100% coconut water without preservatives or natural flavors), herbal teas, lemon water, hot lemon water with raw honey and ginger, and homemade chicken soup with bone broth.

#8: Keep surfaces clean

The healthiest way to do this is to remove the germs instead of killing them, because killing them can leave behind resistant bacteria. To do so, the FDA recommends using a simple soap-based product19, like Branch Basics All Purpose or Bathroom. If you need to take disinfecting a step further, you can use equal parts distilled white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide (stored in separate bottles) on the affected area. 

#9: Change your sheets daily

When you’re down and out, changing your sheets is probably the last thing on your mind. However, if you keep sleeping in the germs you’ve shed the night before it can put a damper on your recovery. We recommend washing them in hot water with a natural, fragrance-free laundry soap. And if you’re just too sick to change the whole bed at least change your pillowcases daily. It will really help.


  • Get to bed ASAP and sleep.
  • Pop some oscillococcinum at the first sign of symptoms (better safe than sorry).
  • Remove germs from the air by opening windows and running an air purifier.
  • Start taking elderberry syrup right away to shorten the duration of cold or flu, add in elderflower tea for an extra immune boost.
  • Let a healthy fever burn!
  • Take oil of oregano (great for viruses and bacteria) and/or olive leaf extract.
  • Stay hydrated with water, coconut water, herbal teas, and chicken soup.
  • Keep surfaces clean with non-toxic methods.
  • Change your sheets daily (or at least your pillow cases).

Stay healthy!


  1. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/eyes-ears-nose-throat/best-flu-treatments-reliable-remedies-for-relieving-flu-virus-symptoms/
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190212094839.htm
  3. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120621223525.htm
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/maternal-or-infant-illnesses/influenza.html
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1379831/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6471180/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848651/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15080016
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30670267
  10. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259696401_An_Evidence-Based_Systematic_Review_of_Elderberry_and_Elderflower_Sambucus_nigra_by_the_Natural_Standard_Research_Collaboration
  11. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/3/580.full
  12. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/may/09/common-painkillers-ibuprofen-nsaids-raise-risk-heart-attack-study
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044872/?fbclid=IwAR2UUlLji-ZaiE5fhC1cqXceaebeWUNmVvRtFfHqE5uLGmp0PZXP2i0WgQo
  14. https://www.nursingtimes.net/archive/mhra-warns-that-nsaids-can-cause-severe-renal-damage-in-patients-at-increased-risk-10-06-2009/
  15. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/417267/citations/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002804/
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19075694
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19075694
  19. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/antibacterial-soap-you-can-skip-it-use-plain-soap-and-water

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  1. Thank you so much for this awesome list! Where do you like to buy your essential oils from and elderflower tea? I’d like to stock up 🙂

  2. So many helpful tips, thank you so much! What brand of oil of oregano do you recommend? Also, how much iodine in a bath? Thanks!

  3. I hopped on over to see what y’all would recommend, as a skeptic. I was so happy to see all of your suggestions! Was hoping Oscillococcinum would make the list. Thank you for providing evidence-based info for people to treat the flu in the healthiest and safest way possible when there are no present complications 🙂 I’m proud to be a loyal customer and supporter of Branch Basics.

  4. Very good advice but I find your product a little pricey for my purse, can you help me out a bit ?

  5. Even better, turn off the circuit breaker for your bedroom when you sleep at night, as well as put wireless devices into ‘airplane mode’. These EMF signals interfere with immunity significantly (plenty of science studies support this, especially with respect to melatonin metabolism). Warning: you might start having vivid dreams again after a few days without the electricity. Most folks may find this an extreme suggestion, but this is a key piece of our covid-19 plan here for our immunocompromised Crohn’s resident who is also electrosensitive.

    Those in the know can stretch a single oscillococcinum vial to last for a month. Simple take 5-10 of the ‘pills’ (there are about 80 per vial), put into a small mason jar with about 8 oz of filtered water and swirl/thump smartly for about one or two minutes to get things to dissolve. Use a plastic lid, never have metal touch the fluid. Keep out of sun. Take about one teaspoon full — estimate, but do not use a metal spoon! — under tongue for one minute then swallow (neither swish nor gargle, also wait at least 30 minutes after having toothpaste or strong tasting substances in mouth before taking this remedy). I do this 3x per day, proactively for the last two months during covid-19 season. Note that I find this will immediately cause my metal fillings to ‘ache’ slightly. The material in the jar becomes inert over about 4-5 days so needs to be renewed. I have woken up with ‘lung issues’ on many mornings and those things seem to clear up quickly each day and not linger and oscillococcinum (actually the WholeFoods equiv) is pretty much all I took to get that result on a regular basis. Your mileage may vary.

    We hang the sheets, duvet covers and pillows to air out each relatively dry day. There is a feeling of well-being from fresh flax linens being aired out. In fact, spend time in sun is very good is good for people as well (vitamin D is immunosupportive).

    Elderberry syrup is good for coughing. I also like to take echinacea-goldenseal (with alcohol) under tongue once a day to pep up immune system. Liposomal vitamin C (about 500-1000mg) seems recommended at this time as well.


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