11 Old-Fashioned Flu Remedies That Actually Work

by Kaitlyn Wylde
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you're currently dousing your entire body in antibacterial soap on the reg and Googling whether or not you can temporarily live in a bubble because you're terrified of getting the flu that's going around this year, trust me: You're not alone. I'm right there with you. In the dredges of winter — especially this winter — it seems like everywhere anyone goes, people are coughing, sneezing, and then. Touching. Everything. It can start to seem like no matter how hard you try to avoid interacting with germs, there's no foolproof way to live your life without putting yourself at risk of contracting the flu. And then, if you get the flu, remedies aren't always even effective! There's no winning.

Of course, the reality is, no one can stay home and protect themselves completely — we've got to go to work or go to school or run errands or see our friends and families. Basically, we can't just stop living our lives out of fear that we'll get the flu!

And while getting a flu vaccine can help, it's not going to fully protect you. At best, the flu vaccine is normally about 60 percent effective — and that's only if you get it two weeks before coming into contact with the virus. This year, those numbers are even more grim: According to the Chicago Tribune, the flu shot being offered in 2018 is likely only between 10 and 32 percent effective in protecting someone from contracting the flu virus circulating this year, the H3N2 strain.

The best thing we can do is be prepared to treat it if we do become infected. And while there are tons of modern over-the-counter remedies that you can find at your local pharmacy, the H3N2 flu virus strain has been around for 50 years, so it's nothing new. Which also means that our parents and grandparents have dealt with this strain too — and they swore by some old-school remedies that actually worked. So if you are unlucky enough to come down with the flu, consider testing out some of these old-fashioned flu remedies that we should totally bring back:

Take Oregano Oil

This oil is said to have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great warrior against the flu. Not only does it help with respiratory related issues, but it is also said to help with stomach issues and digestion by stimulating bile flow.

Gargle With Salt Water

Boil up a cup of water with a teaspoon of salt. Wait until it cools, and then gargle with it — careful not to swallow. This will help kill bacteria and ease a sore throat.

Put Salt Water In Your Nose With A Neti Pot

Flushing out the inside of your nose (with a spray or Neti Pot) is a great way to clear out congestion and loosen up mucus that might be creating a desirable breeding grounds for even more germs.

Menthol Rub

Whether you menthol on your chest to help open it up, or simply place a dab under your nose, it should help you feel like you're getting more air, especially when everything feels tight.

Take Ginger

Ginger root is an excellent nausea and upset stomach fighter. Drink it with your tea, or even opt for the candied version. A little bit of the spicy root can help calm your stomach so you can eat.

Inhale Eucalyptus

Boil a pot of water on the stove and add a few drops of Eucalyptus oil. Carefully remove the pot and place it on a heat safe surface. Grab a towel and place it over your head and the pot. Be very careful not to place your face too close to the water or the pot — stay a safe distance away. Then, simply breathe in the steam and let all the mucus in your lungs break up.

Eat Garlic Soup

Garlic is delicious and it's also a secret weapon against germs. It has antibiotic and antiviral properties. Plus, it's an expectorant, so it helps you cough up all that gross stuff hanging out in your lungs.

Drink Honey Lemon Cinnamon Tea

Tea is great for loosening up mucus, clearing your sinuses and soothing your throat. Adding honey and lemon can help your immune system and cinnamon is a warming spice that's great if you had a fever that you're trying to break.

Wet Sock Treatment

This sounds insane but it's apparently a real thing. Put your feet in very warm water, at hot as you can handle. Then, place a pair of wool socks in icy water, remove them, and pull them onto your feet. Put a dry pair of wool socks over the icy cold, wet wool socks and go to bed. Yes, with wet feet. What apparently happens is that your blood vessels constrict and send important nutrients to your vital organs.

Eat Kiwis

People talk a lot about oranges and their vitamin C content, but kiwis actually have more vitamin C, which is exactly what you need when your immune system is compromised. So make yourself a nice tropical fruit salad.

Booze It Up

This is my favorite OG remedy. Make yourself a warm whiskey drink, aka a hot toddy. The alcohol will help to suppress a cough and even break up some of that sludge in your lungs. The heat will help to break your fever, too. Just make sure you compensate by hydrating too.