10 natural remedies for illness

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

Using natural remedies for combating illness might require some patience but it has significant health benefits in the long run.

Originally published on Girl in The Raw.

Healthy green juice to strengthen the immune system

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

This quote by Hippocrates get’s me every time! I live by this philosophy.

And it becomes that much more obvious when I’m ill. My body and my mind, my internal system indicates what I should by eating by my food cravings when I’m ill or fasting. I long for grapefruit, tea, calming soup, not pizza, fries, or ice-cream. Oh Ice-cream - your, usually delightful, image gives me absolute creeps when I have a sore throat!

When I’m sick, first thing is re-evaluating my food intake and making it cold or flu-flighting! And second is using natural medicines to aid my recovery.

1. Ginger, Ginger and more Ginger!

I do not like the taste of ginger, don’t get me wrong. I had to learn this one, and I continue to consciously implement it when the times get though. But ginger is simply fabulous, one of the most amazing well-rounded natures cures.

First off, chewing raw ginger purifies the sinuses, makes your lungs expand and provides a good burn for the sore throat, killing the bacteria and dispelling the mucus.

Ginger tea is the bomb! Wanna make it explode louder? Add lemon, cayenne pepper (bam!) and honey if you are that kind of a vegan/vegetarian. From all animal products, I think honey absolutely does not have negative effects on human body (or bears, for that matter) and all of its versions are amazingly healing (bee pollen, royal jelly, and my favorite – propolis). If your conscious says no, skip it. But if you eat it, this is the time to kick it up a notch – a spoonful of honey helps cure sore throat (again that least favorite feeling in the world for me!).

And finally, add ginger powder to everything! Period. Even when healthy. It's one of the best spices around according to #Ayurveda.

2. Lemon and other citruses 

An obvious one, but still worth mentioning. As soon as I feel the cold front sneaking on me, I start to amp up my lemon intake. Easiest is in teas and water, but can add to foods (rice and salad taste so much better with a lemon squeeze). Grapefruit is my favorite citrus fruit and I somehow do not eat enough of it, but it’s so good when you’re sick. According to ayurveda, grapefruit is obviously sour but also of bitter taste – which combats kapha or mucus in the body. Oranges, mandarines, eat all you can when sick!

3. Serious hydration

Another one you’ve probably heard of, but it cannot be stressed enough. I, for one, can’t drink water when I have a sore throat, it’s too cold and uncomfortable. Making teas around the hour is extra strain (for me or the lucky soul that gets to take care of me when sick! – it’s usually Zen), but it’s a must. Even adding hot water and some tea to your bottle is enough, but you must have access to hydration at the tip of your fingers, without having to get out of bed every time you need a drink – because guess what? You won’t drink enough. Raw squeezed citrus, ginger, veggie juices are absolutely fabulous when sick if you can get your hands on them. Diluting with some warm water won’t hurt the enzymes if your throat needs it.

4. Easily digestible raw foods

Yes, raw foods are awesome for your body, but they do take more energy to digest for certain body types (regardless of the enzyme situation in your stomach). Therefore, rule of thumb is easily digestible foods when you defense system is busy, well, defending! Raw or not, make sure it doesn’t bloat you or create gas, thats a sure sign of undigested foodstuffs. Most fresh fruits (avoid bananas, because of kapha or mucus), light salads mixed with lemon and EVOO dressing, without too many ingredients. Mono meals are the way to go to give your body a rest. Proteins and fats are hardest on the digestive tract when you’re immune system is down.

5. Soup

They are a must for vata types (air and ether), warm and light. No heavy stews, lentils or beans. Cream soups, not maxing 4 ingredients, and clear soups with noodles and hearty veggies are my staples! Try a carrot ginger for a double flu-fighting boost!

6. Grapefruit seed extract (GSE, Citrofit, Citrosept)

My mom Adriana discovered GSE as the best natural antibiotic, over 12 years ago! She has been using it in her Ayurveda therapy practice ever since. And I am proof it’s all it promises to be, as I’ve been using it religiously with all types of minor and even some major health issues.

You can drink the liquid (it's bitter) or use veggie caps. When very sick, my formula is 2 caps every two hours or at least 4x a day, or every six hours. Always drink with a lot of liquid with it to digest well. Our ayurvedic doctor recommends to take it an hour before, or two after meals.

7. Salt water nasal spray

Referring to a natural remedy, that will not damage the skin in the nasal passages or affect the good mucus. If you can take a dip in the ocean and inhale some water, that’s probably the best way to go! I also like inhalers, which brings me to the next point.

8.Essential oils – Eucalyptus, Tea tree oil

The essential oils are great for the lungs and sinuses. Growing up, my mom would boil water, put a few drops in it and cover my head with a towel, while I was ‘in treatment’. It’s the best! Any ointments mixed with these oils (even Vix), rubbed on your chest and back will ease the breathing and coughing.

9.Olive oil for a sore throat

Aha! This is not a wide known fact. I have tried gargling anything and everything (doesn’t sound good.. but what the heck! It’s true) because it’s the most immediate relief for the painful throat. I think salt water is a good option, but olive oil provides like a coating layer that is both antibacterial and healing at the same time. It definitely requires some getting used to, and you should watch not to swallow it, but it provides an immediate relief and therefore it's one of my favorite remedies.

10.Homemade cough concoction  

I found this one online and tested it a few times. It’s a mix of apple cider (another great aid in stomach issues, coughs and sore throat related illnesses), lemon juice, cayenne and honey if you use it. Sub the last ingredient with maple syrup if a strict vegan. Maple has more minerals than agave, it’s proven to be healthy since I’ve done a master cleanse so I think it’s the best option to replace honey. I drink this concoction to relieve coughing, but it aids a sore throat just as well!


Did you really think I wasn’t going to mention it? Yes, even if it’s the lightest form of yoga imaginable, but as soon as you feel up for it, do a few stretches. No, do not walk into a full studio with a leaky nose, please 🙂 Just roll out your mat, or even do it on your bed!

Twists: great for detoxing. My favorite? Reclined twist with eagle legs.

Inversions and fish pose (matsyasana) : amazing for relieving congestion and headaches!

Pranayama: a must for raising energy levels and prana (life force) in the body.

Yoga on the beach will cure any illness!

Hope these tips help you next time you’re forced to take a break! No matter what remedies you take, make sure you get rid of all sources of stress and subconscious pressure and really, truly take the time for yourself and heal consciously.

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