Tonic & Tinctures: The Guide to Staying Healthy this Cold and Flu Season

Everything you need to know about fighting cold & flu symptoms this season, naturally.

This post is brought to us by Emily Dorio. Emily is a photographer living in Nashville, TN.

We all know that initial feeling. A scratchy throat, stuffy head or being a little more tired than normal. The changing of the leaves is usually the first clue that cold and flu season is around the corner. Before you make a dash to the pharmacy, why not try an effective natural remedy instead? Fight cold and flu season with these simple homeopathy recipes and routines to boost your immune system and soothe the sick day symptoms.

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First, the basics.

An herbal tonic can be used to help restore, tone and invigorate our systems in the body or to promote general well-being. Tinctures are extracts of herbs for oral use. Essential oils are natural, extracted oils usually maintaining the characteristic fragrance of the plant or other source from which it is extracted. Essential oils have been used for centuries to fight the symptoms of the common cold. You can add them to your bathwater, diffuse them in the air you breathe or even apply them directly to your skin. Essential oils help the body fight off infection and serve to strengthen the immune system. Stock your home medicine cabinet with these essential oils this cold/flu season:

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Oregano Oil

Oregano oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. It is high in phenols which are natural compounds with beneficial antioxidants which work to boost your immune system and works as a shield against toxins. A drop of oregano oil to your hot tea will help reduce aches and pains and work to fight invading toxins. (It is important to note that oregano oil is incredibly bitter, so make sure you add to a flavored tea or use with a peppermint spirit.)

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil has antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic and antiviral properties. Used in an inhaler or in a bath, tea tree oil helps you fight congestion and the resulting discomfort caused by the cold or the flu.


Lavender essential oil (Lavandula Angustifolia) has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, and it is gentle enough for use with children. Add drops of lavender oil to a warm bath with epsom salts to soothe aching muscles.

Peppermint Spirit (for drinking) 

The menthol in peppermint is the perfect natural remedy for upset stomach and also works wonders to soothes a sore throat. Make sure you are ingesting peppermint spirits and not essential oils. Most essential oils are not approved for oral use. Add 4 drops of peppermint spirits to a cup of tea with oregano oil. [see recipe below]

Eucalyptus Oil 

As an antiviral and a decongestant, eucalyptus essential oil helps treat colds and congestion. Try using eucalyptus oil in a steam inhaler to help open blocked nasal passages, to soothe inflammation and to fight bacteria.

Peppermint Oil (for external application)

Relieves headaches/sore muscles/congested chest & sinuses. See below for best ways to incorporate peppermint oil into your routine!

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• Headache  Peppermint oil is terrific to keep on hand at your desk or in your purse, especially if you are prone to headaches. The use of this oil has also been known to effectively lessen tandem symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to noise and sensitivity to light.

• Sore Muscles  Because peppermint oil has analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties, it not only can relieve pain and inflammation but can also calm the spasms that cause muscle cramps.

• Congestion – If you’re head is feeling stuffy or you can’t stop coughing, try a peppermint essential oil steam. Pour boiling water into a metal or glass bowl, and add a few drops of essential oil (eucalypus and rosemary are good combinations with peppermint). Drape a towel over your head and position your face 10-12 inches above the bowl and breathe in the steam. OR massage 2-3 drops onto chest to help clear sinus and lung congestion.

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Lemon essential oil (citrus limon), with its high vitamin content, helps boost the body’s immune system and stimulates the production of white blood cells, thereby increasing your ability to fight off illness. Lemon oil also improves circulation throughout the body. Add to your drinking water.

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Make sure to.. 

Pass on the Latte – Go slow on the milk! Dairy stimulates the production of mucous which supports the growth of viruses and bacteria. Skip your normal morning cup routine and replace it with infused black or green tea with peppermint spirits and oregano oil.

Get Plenty of Rest!Illness is your body’s cue to take a time out. Listen. Rest. It’s a perfect excuse to catch up on your favorite series or binge a season of Netflix.

Drink Plenty of Fluids – Even if you don’t have symptoms that cause obvious water loss – like a runny nose, sweatingvomiting or diarrhea – a cold or flu can dehydrate you in hidden ways. Just a slight rise in body temperature requires more water for metabolic reactions and breathing. Make sure you are drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day which will help to thin the mucous in your body, making it easier to expel.

Lemon and Ginger – Make a toddy! Boil ginger root with lemon peel with honey to soothe a sore throat.

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Cinnamon is a natural antibiotic. It is rich in compounds that inhibit bacterial growth. Add it to teas or smoothies to boost immune system.

Turmeric contains an anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin which has strong cold-/flu-fighting properties. Stir a teaspoon into a glass of drinking water or add to soups or other foods.

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Oregano Oil + Peppermint Tea Recipe
1 Green tea Bag
1 Muddled tangerine
4 drops Oregano oil
8 drops Peppermint spirits
6 oz boiling water

Pour boiling water over tea and let steep.

+Do you have any tips on how to stay healthy during cold and flu season? Let us know in the comments!  

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  1. I’ll definitely be putting many of these to use this winter – when you have little kids, rarely a day passes that you aren’t either getting sick, are sick, or are getting over being sick.

  2. panela (sugar cane cubes) + hot water – a colombian tradition for colds/flu.

    or hot water, lemon and honey!

  3. Can you advice me please .
    I have allergy and every winter season i got Flue and even i take all medicine which the doctors advice me to take , the flue stay with me at least 1 month or 40 days and i don’t know what i have to do with it .
    is there any medication or foods i can take to let me prevent this happen again

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