10 Home Remedies For Viral Infections

From chicken soup and honey to Epsom salt baths, there are plenty of at-home options available to manage viruses like the common cold and the flu. Getting enough rest, staying well hydrated, and nutrient-rich foods are all important to help the body fight off disease.

Home remedies do not replace medical treatment recommended by your doctor, but when used in addition, they can help speed recovery from viral infections.

herbal tea

Herbal teas have been used in folk medicine for thousands of years for a variety of ailments, including viral infections. Studies suggest: green tea has antiviral properties and is a good choice for daytime use.

In the evening, decaffeinated teas like turmeric, elderberry, and echinacea can also help fight a cold or the flu. For optimal benefits, drink a few cups of hot tea throughout the day.

Woman pours tea into a glass cup handsome / Getty Images

Chicken soup

Many people have childhood memories of getting chicken soup at the first sign of a cold or flu. It turns out your grandparents were right. Chicken soup is indeed helpful to fight viral upper respiratory infections such as colds and flu.

Research suggests that chicken soup helps relieve inflammation, reduce symptoms, and support the function of certain immune cells that play an important role in infections. After testing both the vegetables and the chicken, scientists believe that this food contains several medicinal substances.

Cooking chicken noodle soup with vegetables in pot GMVozd / Getty Images


Garlic has a long history of use as a seasoning, as well as a remedy for the common cold or flu. Clinical studies show: garlic can help prevent the spread of viral infections thanks to its broad antiviral spectrum against viruses responsible for colds, flu, herpes, hepatitis A and rotaviruses.

A brand of aged garlic extract is one of the most researched forms of garlic in supplement form. Alternatively, you can reap the benefits by chopping a garlic clove into small pieces and swallowing it.

Senior woman preparing garlic THEPALMER/Getty Images


Ginger may help fight viral infections that cause colds, H1N1 influenza, herpes, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Scientists identified more than 450 active ingredients in this humble root. Better yet, ginger is easy to incorporate into the diet, whether chopped and added to dishes, as an herbal tea or blended into a smoothie. Dry ginger is also available in supplement form, alone or in combination with turmeric and other herbs.

Woman chops ginger Maria Botina/EyeEm/Getty Images

neti pot

Neti pots are available in pharmacies, health food stores and online. They are ideal for those with allergies, sinusitis and colds as they help to flush out dirt and mucus from the nose. The nasal solution for the neti pot is a saltwater mix that you can make at home using salt and distilled water. Do not use the neti pot with plain water.

Woman prepares to use a neti pot South_agency / Getty Images

Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus oil is usually sold as an essential oil that can be used for cough and congestion associated with the common cold. Make sure to dilute it before applying to the chest or throat by mixing it with coconut or other oil.

You can also add eucalyptus oil to hot water and inhale it, or place it in an essential oil diffuser.

Woman pouring eucalyptus essential oil into bowl Sergey Kirsanov / Getty Images

apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a fermented juice made from apples. More expensive versions are available that include the “mother,” which features probiotics along with acetic acid and B and C vitamins. While many apple cider claims are anecdotal, some studies support apple cider vinegar antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal capabilities.

Use apple cider vinegar to rub the throat or to gargle to relieve the congestion associated with the common cold.

Bottle of organic apple cider vinegar or cider vasiliybudarin / Getty Images

elderberry Syrup

Elderberries are rich in vitamin C and plant compounds called flavonoids and anthocyanins. In folk medicine, elderberry juice is recommended to relieve cough and congestion. The drug Sambucol, based on elderberry extract, has been the subject of several studies.

In a, about 90% of the participants saw their flu symptoms disappear completely in half the time — two to three days — compared to those not taking Sambucol. For optimal benefits, elderberry extract should be taken at the first sign of a viral infection.

Spoon with homemade elderberry syrup Madeleine_Steinbach / Getty Images


Honey can’t be missing from the list of cold and flu remedies. Alone or in combination with other natural products, honey appears to be particularly helpful for: relieve pain throat and reduce cough. Honey is suitable for children over 1 year old and most adults. However, it should never be given to children under one year of age because of the risk of botulinum infections.

Human hands with opened small glass can of honey and dipper invizbk / Getty Images

Epsom Salts

Taking a warm bath helps improve cold and flu symptoms as the patient inhales the rising steam. Adding Epsom salt can help further as minerals are absorbed through the skin. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium, which helps relax muscles, reduce body aches, relieve stress and promote restful sleep

Epsom salt next to white bathtub Veronique Duplain / Getty Images
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