December 14, 2009, - 1:08 pm

What Are Your Best Cold/Flu Remedies?

By Debbie Schlussel

I’ve been sick all weekend (and today) with a cold/flu, complete with sore throat, runny nose, coughs, etc.  Fortunately, the initial headache went away.  I’ve been taking Dayquil and what we call “Jewish penicillin” a/k/a chicken soup, as well as hot tea with honey and lemon  Probably will get some Dimetapp at some point soon. But this is the meanest cold I can remember having.

What are your best cold and flu remedies?  I’m starting to feel better (the flu part is mild and mostly gone now), but I’m still open to (almost) anything.  As with most people, I hate being sick.


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49 Responses

For TEMPORARY relief (a couple of hours) go in to your bathroom. Turn the hot water on in your shower full blast (obviously no cold water).and keep any shower door/curtains open. Sit down on the toilet. Take deep breathes and breath in as much of the steam as you can.

This works for me, but as I mention above the relief is only temporary (but it is enough to let you go to sleep).

Refuah Shlema (loosely translates as get well).

I_AM_ME on December 14, 2009 at 1:19 pm

In my post above, I meant to say keep shower doors/curtains closed, but any doors or windows for he room itself should be closed.

I_AM_ME on December 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Hi Debbie:
Take one 500 mg. capsule of Quercetin daily. You will not get sick. I have done this for 3 years and have not even had a sniffle. It is a terrific immune booster. For the swine flu season, I have combined it with N-acytel cysteine, curcumin, and bromelaine to really boost immunity and so far, no problems. My teens are taking this now and swine flu has gone through their school plus other colds and sickness and they have remained totally healthy. I swear by this and started taking it for asthma-but it is so much more.

LULU35 on December 14, 2009 at 1:23 pm

As to the post above mine – I also deeply believe in steaming if you are already croupy. But why not boil water on the stove, then remove it from the stove and create a tent for your head while you breathe in the steam? Much more effective than sitting in the room with minimal steam.

LULU35 on December 14, 2009 at 1:25 pm

by tent I mean draping a towel over your shoulders as you inhale. Do not let the steam escape.

LULU35 on December 14, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Dear Ms. Schlussel,

There is only one sure fire way that I know of to both ward off and recover from cold/flu – and that is Vitamin C. But the preparation is critical. The Vitamin C *must* be timed release (otherwise you overload the kidneys) and it must come from a reputable supplier. (I use Swiss Herbal.) 4x 1000mg caplets every 4 hours. Lots of good water (NOT OZONIZED) as well to keep flushing the system.

The hot chicken soups and lemonades (with honey) are wonderful and soothing (so is miso soup for that matter) and allow you to easily take in more fluids and nutrients, but the Vit C is critical. If you are doubtful about taking high quantities of Vit. C – go back and visit the brilliant work of Linus Pauling. Outstanding research, but not loved by the pharmaceutical industry who would much rather you choose the latest cold flu preparations which are mostly useless at best and dangerous at worst.

Best wishes for your recovery –

C: Yup, taking plenty of Vitamin C. Forgot to mention that. Thanks! DS

clara on December 14, 2009 at 1:33 pm

When I feel a cold coming on, I hit the Zicam. I also boost my Vitamin C intake. I have kept several colds at bay this way. However, those times when the cold virus wins, Nyquil doesn’t work for me anymore. I think ever since they replaced pseudoephedrine with whatever it is they replace it with, over the counter cold medicines just don’t seem to help as much (and I usually feel too crappy to stand in line at the pharmacy to buy the stuff with pseudoephedrine…but the pharmacy counter version of Benadryl or Sudafed Cold and Sinus seems to help me the best.

And lots of chicken soup and, believe it or not, chips and salsa (at least medium salsa – hot if you can stand it). The salsa helps my sinuses drain.

Janne on December 14, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Didn’t you basically ask the same thing a few weeks ago when you were considering a flu shot?

Anyway, as a said then, look the research on vitamin D.

Allen on December 14, 2009 at 1:50 pm

For the flu, I just stay in bed.

For a cold, nothing beats the hottest shower you can stand, just because it feels good. Always have throat lozenges or even hard candy on hand. Keeping the throat moist helps. A hot soothing drink is great on a sore throat.

John on December 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm

Zicam works. The dissolving tablet, NOT the spray.
Dayquil, etc., are worthless.

Wash your hands. Drink fluids.

I haven’t been sick for months but it’s only a matter of time.

lexi on December 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm

As I am me stated above, the steam from the shower really does work wonders. Also a Nettie pot works for temporary relief, regardless whether you have allergies or not. Opens up the breathing.

sharon on December 14, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Tuang Ot Sriracha sauce, as much as you can tolerate. I like it in soups, as well as applied like a condiment.

Martin on December 14, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Debbie: Sorry you are not feeling well. If it is a virus — ZICAM will help shorten the duration of your illness. I have very good luck using the nasal swabs. Don’t be afraid of this stuff — the studies cited when lawsuits claim it causes loss of smell are from studies of zinc intake by polio patients in the 1930s. This stuff is great. Feel better soon!

MOMinMINNESOTA on December 14, 2009 at 2:31 pm

One comment on Dayquil not working anymore removing the pseudoephedrine from medicines or just making it hard to buy — this is just one more way innocent, law-abiding people pay for crime. Because law-breakers cook meth, the rest of us suffer if we need this effective medicine. Bugs me!

MOMinMINNESOTA on December 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Go to a good massage therapist who knows how to do shiatsu or accupressure to help release sinus pressure. I like to put a few drops of an essential oil like eucaliptus oil or peppermint on a wash cloth .Placeit across your collar bone while you rest in a semi upright position. The aroma will waft up and help unstuff your nose. Wish I could help you but I’m in New Jersey.

NML on December 14, 2009 at 2:36 pm

I’m sick too Debbie. Feel better. I don’t want to go out but will. I am out of Vitamin C. You know what has made me a bit happier? Vicks rub. I put a little on my upper chest, and a little on the bridge of my nose-no I wouldn’t entertain guests this way-but it clears my plogged nose, and this way I can work and not be miserable.

MM: Using Vick’s VapoRub & Hall’s Mentholatum, too. Forgot to mention. They’e the only things that allow me to breathe and they clear my nose slightly. But I still feel crappy and sluggish. DS

MikeM on December 14, 2009 at 2:42 pm

ZICAM all the way…but you got to start taking it at the first sign of the cold…

Bigrich104 on December 14, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Debbie I have tried all of the above and none of these ever helped me. I stumbled upon this one day and was desparate enough to try it. Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and it MUST be apple cider vinegar, no other kind, something about what’s in the apples (?)in a glass of water. I hold my nose and gulp it as fast as I can and I do it a few times a day. It really does work. Everyone I have managed to talk in to trying it begrudingly admited it worked wonders. It helps the sinus pretty fast and once that starts feeling better it is amazing how quickly everything else starts to feel better.

zippy on December 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I second the recommendation to look into vitamin D. Find the gelcap version (it’s oil-based, and vitamin D requires fat to be absorbed, so the white powder tablets absorb very poorly) and take 5,000 iu per day to start. Vitamin D, produced in the skin by sunlight, is the reason so many fewer people get colds and flu in the mid-summer than get them in the mid-winter – there’s just none produced by our skin in this weak winter sunlight.

I’ve felt a cold coming on a few times already this winter and took an extra 2,000 iu per day on those days (I take 6,000 iu normally in the winter) and the developing cold disappeared.

See here for info on D:

Mark on December 14, 2009 at 3:14 pm


Sorry you’re ill with a terrible flu/cold. Here’s what I do when it hits and it’s always a head cold.

First, I gargle with warm to hot salt water (regular table salt will do). Gargle several times during the day.
I take 2 ALKA SELZER – two in the AM, and two in the afternoon, and at Night I take two NiteTime ALKA SETZER. Then after I down the NiteTime, I make a hot tea with honey and a full plus tablespoon of whiskey, and drink it in bed. Then put Metholaturm in the nose and rub the chest. And cover up and go to sleep. The AlkaSelzer works like a charm.

Hope it works as good for you as it does for me. Feel good tomorrow.


Fritzi Roth on December 14, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Zinc works for me. I was a skeptic until I tried it 3-4 years ago but now I swear by it. I got some tablets called Sootherbs at Walmart but lately I haven’t been able to find them. I also used some Equate (Walmart) brand zinc lozenges that did ok but I didn’t care for the taste much. (But better than nothing.) I would say Zicam would be good although I haven’t tried it yet.

Main thing is to start medication at first sign of a cold: sniffles, sort throat, etc. If you delay it won’t work although I think it might lessen the symptoms somewhat.

Surprised on December 14, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Drink 2-3 shots of vodka in which a red chili pepper has been steeped as quickly as you can. Then go to sleep for a few hours. You will feel like new.

Ibn Abu on December 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Hi Debbie,
Sleep, sleep and more sleep. The tips above on steam are good too. For temporary relief from congestion – take some eucalyptus oil and drop it in a bowl of hot water then breath in the fumes, um, steam. Or you can just put a few drops on a kleenex and breath it in. Fennel tea is also very soothing for sore throats – quacks say it cures you – I don’t think it cures anything but it certainly provides relief. Make sure you are keeping your feet warm, a hot water bottle is always good.
Hope you are feeling better soon.

SquareMileWife on December 14, 2009 at 3:35 pm

You’re leaving out one key ingredient in your lemon and honey hot toddy – whiskey. Drink it before going to bed with 2 aspirin and let yourself sweat all night under the covers. Guranteed your cold will be gone in the morning.

dan on December 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Hi Debby, Love your blog! Refuah Shlemah! (Get well soon!) Anyhow, when I was sick with the flu, I was told to take lots of Vitamin D (four to five thousand units) I was told to take this throughout the winter as it is considered to be a great immune booster during the winter months! Also believe it or not Onions! That’s right, somebody emailed me an article about how keeping an unpeeled onion in a bowl in the rooms of your home can ward off flu as well, as the onion absorbs the germs. Apparently, during the middle ages people used to hang garlic and onions around their homes to ward off the flu. Doesn’t hurt to try. The chicken soup is great, lemon juice in hot water is also good as well as fish/cod liver oil, and vitamin C. Also plenty of rest and a dose of laughter as well! Hope this helps and Happy Chanuka!

rebecca on December 14, 2009 at 4:57 pm

I took my first seasonal flu shot 10 years ago.I haven’t been sick since having my first flu shot which I get annually. No flu, no colds, nothing…

My friends report the same: flu shots prevent colds. We don’t know why, but it’s the truth.

goldenmike4393 on December 14, 2009 at 5:30 pm

A lot of times flu and colds are due to habits like chronic lack of sleep.

ramjordan on December 14, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Debbie, I hope you feel better soon.

I’ve believed for a long time that eating lots of beans, whole grains and 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables (not French Fries, but fruits & veggies like broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, blueberries) etc. strengthen our immune systems and ability to ward off disease. I also think that this type of diet will lessen the severity of colds, as compared to a diet high in unhealthy fats, sugar or refined grains. Someone can follow this type of diet and still be a conservative.

Little Al on December 14, 2009 at 6:12 pm

I also agree w/the previous comment about Vitamin D. D3 is preferred over D2.

Little Al on December 14, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Debbie, I find that using NeilMed Sinus Rinse clears my sinuses and allows me to breath easier.

Mike from Dearborn on December 14, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Lots of sleep.

CaliforniaScreaming on December 14, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Just add Niquil to your current routine, along with lots of fruit or other drinks with high volumes of vitamin C. I mean lots, I drink the Vitamin Water brand with high C content.

Federale on December 14, 2009 at 7:47 pm


Often times, my cold is 2/3 over before I remember to dig it out and use it. Then I slap my forehead and think: “Dummy! Why didn’t you remember to do this in the first place!”

Last cold I had (just a couple of weeks ago), I got out the steam vaporizer right away and realized immediate relief the next morning.

Naturally, aspirin and the cold remedy of your choice will help, but a steam vaporizer will relieve your symptoms faster than any single thing.

There is NO Santa Claus on December 14, 2009 at 7:49 pm

C’mon, Debbie, all good Michiganders know
that warm Vernors cures all!

dave on December 14, 2009 at 8:27 pm

I find that eating a grapefruit daily really helps boost my immune system and it helps prevent a scratchy throat or headache from turning into a cold.

Hope you get well soon!

JM on December 14, 2009 at 8:57 pm

Sorry youre not feeling well, I just broke down and got my flu shot. But I was sick last year and used 2 cups of NyQuil, a couple of bulbs of raw garlic, orange peel, and drink iced tonic water thruogh the night. Oh yeah, and stay away from your boyfriend!

seahawker on December 14, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    Congratulations on your first flu shot!

    I know I fought taking a vaccine for years, but I was so ill ten years ago that I thought I was going to die. And, I didn’t want to go through THAT suffering again.

    Little did I know that I would no longer have colds 3 or 4 times a year as an added benefit. Additionally, I sleep poorly, eat poorly, and never exercise. So, all that other crap about doing this and that doesn’t add up to a hill of beans in light of modern medicine 🙂

    goldenmike4393 on December 15, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I used to get this seasonal cold/flu stuff about four times a year. I guess that is what most people go through. However, for the last one year I had been exercising intensely about three times a week. On top of it I have been consuming two apples, three cups orange juice, one banana and four cups of non-fat milk a day apart from good amount of protein etc. Guess what? I have not had cold or flu infection in one year. Don’t know if any of the above helped me or not but I am certain my imunity had got stronger. Just to let you know that a few times in this one year I had sat beside a guy who was coughing in the train and had to work with co-workers who were having cold/flu. I didn’t get anything from any of these folks. Could this be just luck?

Rex on December 14, 2009 at 10:59 pm

Can’t help you after it gets hold, except for the suggestions of eucalyptus, Vicks, a good sauna will help quite a lot, especially if you can access a Far Infrared sauna. NSAIDs as needed, Master Cleanser recipe, rest, etc.

Master Cleanse- – don’ scoff, and ignore all the new age froth and BS. Stuff really works to clean you out. All the hype is an unfortunate distraction. (liberals can’t help themselves)

To prevent? To never get in this position again?

NOTHING works better than IV Vitamin C. Find a qualified medical doctor who also practices natural medicine who will administer IV Vitamin C. Don’t scoff, and don’t be dissuaded by people who scoff. Nothing under the Sun works better. Absolutely a modern silver bullet.

Liquid tincture of echinacea with Goldenseal. Many high quality brands to choose from, ask your local health food outlet to suggest. Follow directions on bottle.

LuLu35 is absolutely right about Quercitin, et al. Very good advice.

Add to this the following, Oil of Oregano in liquid capsule form; Olive Leaf extract in liquid capsules. Very potent combination. Make sure you’re getting 30mg of Optizinc daily.

The best for last … Monolaurin and Odorless Garlic. Monolauric acid has the peculiar ability to strip the protein coat off a virus, and viruses hide in our bodies by disguising themselves as proteins thus making them somewhat invisible to white cells. Monolaurin will strip off the protein revealing the virus and white cells swarm on it like Moslem fanatics on ten year old boys. Garlic can kill damn near anything; load up on it. In combination with Monolaurin, it’s like a full auto Thompson with a drum magazine.

Very best is take Oscillococcinum, an all natural vanilla tasting homeopathic anti-flu remedy. World Class, globally known. MUST TAKE at the very first hint of onset of symptoms. But if you do, chances are 90%+ cold or flu won’t settle in. Since I discovered Oscillococcinum in 1988, I’ve not had the flu, and only the mildest of colds a half dozen times.

All of this is available at any quality health store and will be instantly recognizable by any employee there.

Wash your hands regularly. Never touch your mouth, ears, nose or mouth and for the craziest remedy, but I swear it works … I mean that … try body temperature hydrogen peroxide in each ear. Lay with your head to one side, put a dropper full in the upside-ear and wait till it quits bubbling and gargling. Clean out that ear and repeat on the other side. I could go on for a whole page why it works, but just try it one time. BODY TEMPERATURE HP, not cool or cold … cool or cold in your ear will make you dizzy as the dickens.

Good luck

Edouard Coneho on December 14, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Hi Debbie:

I’m sorry that you’re sick.

I recommend washing your hands a lot, drink lots of liquids, have Chicken Noodle Soup, and get lots of sleep. Plus tips from others about Vitamin C (keep up the good work) and D are good as well.

Hope you get well soon.


JeffE on December 15, 2009 at 12:06 am

Well, here in the South, it would be a good old fashioned hot todie. Hot tea, a little lemon, some honey, and an generous shot of Kentucky Bourbon (Jack Daniels may substitute). Mix well. Get under a warm blanket. Put in a old Bogart movie (I recommend Casablanca) Get comfortable. And drift off to sleep.

Paul on December 15, 2009 at 7:18 am

Move to Boynton Beach… I did it 5 years ago moving from Philly and haven’t had a cold since! Now if I can just used to shvitzing every day I’ll be ok. Hope you feel better!

Marc on December 15, 2009 at 8:21 am

I was a big supporter (user) of ZICAM nasal gel, but since they took the Zinc out, I’ve been using ZUCOL- orange flavored tablets you dissolve in your mouth. Both word best if taken at first signs of cold. SAMBUCOL (black elderberry extract), invented by an ISRAELI BTW, has been clinically proven to fight off FLU virus.

Doda McCheesle on December 15, 2009 at 9:36 am

I have been using the cold-eeze brand as well as the store brand zinc lozenge. It’s key to take it early in the cold, with food in your stomach(maybe up to an hour after a meal). IT WORKS. I also take them to boost my immune system. I take them after meals, sometimes two in a row. 3-4 days usually does it. I’ve only gotten a serious dose of a cold using it twice in like ten years. Zicam in a pinch. 60 minutes did a report on the cold-eeze lozenge about 11 yrs ago and it was very informative and sold me as well. Makes you urinate more frequently as well, so it’s rinsing you out.

Joe on December 15, 2009 at 11:13 am

800 – 1200 IUs of vitamin D per day. Taken regardless of whether I am under the weather or not.

– keeps my keratosis away

– keeps up the vitamin D during the 3-4 months of the year during which you can’t get vitamin D from the sun.

– coincidently, same period when flus and colds are most prevalent.

– also has anti-cancer and anti-psoriasis propertites.

– helps reduce bone and muscle aches and pains.

For more information, lookup Michael Holick of the Boston Medical Center who is really doing nothing more than reminding us all of what research all the way back in the 1930s confirmed – i.e., what he digs up most of the time really isn’t new. It’s just that generations later we’ve forgotten the reasons why we have vitamin D in our milk, and why we keep lamps in our reptile cages.


mrrabbit on December 15, 2009 at 2:27 pm

I drink MonaVie daily to boost my immune system so that it helps to keep me from getting sick in the first place.

Lance Seaman on December 15, 2009 at 4:46 pm

If you have a bad cough at night..Rub your feet with Vicks and put socks on, when you go to bed..I am not sure if someone else wrote this..but you will be surprised how this works.
Hope you are better now..

Carolyn Mott on July 29, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Carolyn Mott suggested Vicks vapor rub on the bottom of your feet (and use socks to keep it off your carpet/furniture) — I’m verifying that it works, even though it sounds strange –I’ve used that with two of my children, and it works wonders for a cough.

    The best thing I’ve found, when dealing with cold/flu, is to take immune-building supplements as soon as symptoms appear. Echinacea with goldenseal (either tincture or capsule) and Oregamax (wild oregano in capsule form) together are a very effective combination (echinacea with goldenseal will open up your ears if they fill with fluid during a cold, too). Zinc lozenges with Vitamin C or Emergen-C are good, too. I haven’t used cold medicine in years since using these (other than the Vicks vapor rub). Hope you are feeling better soon!

    joan on March 27, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Stay well hydrated. Get your sleep. Watch MST3K.

Occam's Tool on July 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm

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