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  • Dr. Melyssa Hoitink, ND

Natural Ways to Beat Cold & Flu Season

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Flu season started early this year in Ontario. Flu season typically runs from November to April, with a peak in outbreaks occurring from December to February. Below I've included some easy tips you can try if you are starting to feel a cold or the flu coming on. The sooner that you can take action when the first symptoms of a cold or flu begin, the more effective the treatment will be.


You can only heal when you rest. If you are still getting up to go to work or school, you're using energy that could be put towards fighting the infection and getting you better. You're also infecting other people, which I'm sure your co-workers and classmates will not appreciate Stay home, relax, get some sleep and let your body do it's thing.

Drink fluids

Try to consume 2-3 litres of fluid and avoid sugary drinks. Water loosens mucus (to help clear out congestion) and keeps mucus membranes (the linings of your respiratory and digestive tracts) hydrated. Choose herbal teas, ginger tea, soups, diluted juices, and hot water with added lemon, honey and ginger to increase fluid intake.

Avoid black tea and coffee as they act as diuretics (make you urinate) and can cause dehydration. Bacteria and viruses require sugar to live and multiply, so be sure to choose fluids that contain little to no sugar.

Salt-water Gargle and Nasal Wash

Salt water soothes and cleanses throat and nasal passages to clear out dust and microbes that might be setting up camp.

Nasal Wash:

1. In a Neti Pot, mix ½ tsp fine grind sea salt in 1 cup distilled water at body temperature.

2. Place a drop of the solution on your inner forearm before using to test temperature.

You want the temperature to be comfortable, not too hot or too cold.

3. While leaning over a sink or bowl, tilt your head sideways so your face is horizontal.

4. Insert the neti pot spout into your upper nostril.

5. Open your mouth and breathe through your mouth, while you pour the solution through your nasal passage.

6. Use half the solution for your first nostril and half for the other nostril.

7. You can stand upright and gently blow your nose in between nostril rinses.

8. Repeat daily until illness resolves.

Note: Ensure you keep your neti pot clean for future uses.

Salt-water Gargle:

1. Mix ½ tsp fine grind sea salt in 1 cup distilled warm water.

2. Take a sip and gargle for 30 seconds.

3. Spit out the mixture, rather than swallowing.

4. Repeat 2-3 times per day.

“Magic” Socks

Note: This is most effective at the first sign of cold of flu.

You will need 1 pair of 100% cotton socks and 1 pair of 100% wool socks. Before bed, run the cotton socks under ice cold water and wring out completely. Put these socks on your feet and put the dry wool socks over top, and then go to sleep. Throughout the night your body works to warm your feet and dry the socks. You can remove the socks once they are dry.

This technique increases circulation, eases lung and nasal congestion, improves the body’s ability to cope with temperature changes, and strengthens the immune system.

Steam inhalation

Viruses like colder temperatures, so discourage them from hanging around with steaming. Do this at the first sign of nasal and throat symptoms.

Put boiling water in a pan or dish. Put face over bowl and cover head with a towel to trap the steam (do NOT do this over the stovetop).

For added effect, place 1-2 drops of eucalyptus oil and thyme oil in the water. Do this as often as you can for the first few days to kill off the virus in the nose, soothe the nasal passages, and relieve congestion.

Eat 1 clove of raw garlic.

Garlic is a strong natural anti-microbial and is most effective when fresh.

Crush 1 clove of fresh garlic and let it sit exposed to air for 20-30 minutes.

Add 1 tsp of water to the crushed garlic and swallow.

Repeat daily until symptoms resolve.

Warning: This will be spicy and you will have garlic breath.

Make a Spicy Immune-Boosting Tea


  • 5 quarter-size slices of fresh ginger root

  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped.

  • Juice of 2 lemon wedges

  • A pinch of ground cayenne pepper


  1. Add 4-5 cups of water to a pot and bring to a boil.

  2. Add the above ingredients, making sure to squeeze out the lemon juice from the wedges.

  3. Cover and let simmer on low for 10 minutes.

  4. Let cool slightly before drinking and feel free to eat the garlic pieces if you are up for it!

  5. Drink throughout the day.

If your symptoms are not improving or are getting worse after 5-7 days, speak with your Naturopathic Doctor about further immune support.

This information does not substitute medical advice from a licensed Health Care Provider. If you have questions about how to prevent infections and support your immune response, schedule a Complementary Discovery Session here.

Wishing everyone a healthy, happy Cold-and-Flu-free season!


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