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Battling colds and the flu, vegan-style

January 3, 2009

Updated: September 11, 2011

Although I don’t get sick often, I do have several store-bought remedies that I use in addition to using food to recover from a the flu or a cold. Because traditional over the counter cold and flu remedies aren’t an option (pretty much all of then are not vegan), here are some of the remedies I have relied upon in the past to do battle with the beasties. At the bottom of this post are some of the vegan store-bought remedies I have found that never fail to fix up both me and my family.

Note: This information is in no way meant to replace the care and advice of a certified medical professional. If you are pregnant, please consult your doctor or midwife for more information about what remedies are safe to use during pregnancy.


Facts – Here is a fantastic summary about the history of garlic and botanical, culinary, and medicinal facts about one of the most useful root veggies out there: Garlic – Stinking Rose or Revered Medicine?

Remedy – One raw clove, crushed, taken once a day (more than this may cause stomach irritation). I take raw garlic at night to avoid being too smelly the next day. I’ve been told this is a remedy still used in many parts of Europe to improve immunity and help speed recovery from colds and influenza.


Facts – Long revered in Ayurvedic medicine for its heating properties and used in Chinese traditional medicine for more than 2,500 years, ginger it a true powerhouse when it comes to the medical claims associated with it. In Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants, ginger “…[has] been found to successfully treat motion sickness, postoperative nausea, bacterial dysentery, malaria, coughs, and migraines….Gingerols, the chemicals responsible for ginger’s heat, are helpful in treating pain and fever, and its volatile oils may have a positive effect on cold and flu viruses.”

Remedy – Take one tablespoon of raw, minced ginger per day. Chasing it down with orange juice helps remove the strong flavours from your mouth and get it all down faster. You can also use ginger by putting a few slices of the raw root in hot water with lemon and agave nectar. Taken a few times a day, a fresh ginger tea will also help warm your body (in the case of a cold, that is) and keep you hydrated.

Green Tea

Facts – The benefits of green tea have long been touted by many Asian and Middle Eastern cultures and have received much hype in recent years for proven (and unproven) health benefits. As green tea is known for being rich in polyphenols and phytonutrients, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to down a few cups when you’re under the weather and under the covers.

Remedy – If you can afford it, buy a premium quality organic (fair-trade) Japanese or Chinese green tea to drink. Here is a list of the different types of Chinese and Japanese green teas. As green tea still contains caffeine, it might be good to limit intakes to two cups of tea a day.

Leafy Greens

Facts – There’s no doubt here – everyone know that eating your greens is important, and when it comes to being sick you can do no better for yourself than to eat as much leafy greens as you can get.

Because they say it better than me, visit these links to read all about the facts about these greens:

Broccoli: the Crown Jewel of Nutrition

Collards: the Sweetheart of Soulfood

Kale: Love It and Eat It

Swiss Chard is a Star

Remedy – There just isn’t any such thing as getting too many greens. Eat them any way that suits you best – raw, steamed, sauteed, or stewed.

Store-bought Remedies

There are times when I need a little more of a helping hand when it comes to defeating a virus. Here are the best remedies I have found that have never failed to kick the little suckers in the butt. All of them are available to order online, are 100% vegan. Check your local health food store for availability too.

Umcka ColdCare (available in liquid, chewables, and in various flavours)

Sambucol (there are several brands using a similar name to this one – watch out for those that use honey)

Traditional Medicinals Cold Formula tea

New Chapter Immunity Take Care








Relief! White Willow Bark Natural Aspirin Alternative by NutriBiotic

Suro Organic Elderberry Tincture

As with all remedies, do not combine any of these medicines in the same dose, and always leave a window of two to three hours between taking different remedies to avoid potential interactions. Always check with your doctor before taking these medicines if you are taking prescription medications.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 3, 2009 10:39 pm

    thanks for the helpful info. now just cross your fingers that i don’t have to deal with a cold this season.

  2. January 4, 2009 8:45 pm

    thanks for the tips. i’ll definitely try the ginger route next time i get sick (knock on wood!).

    by the way, this was the first year i heard of people using oil of oregano to ward off illness. maybe it’s more of a preventative method like echinacea is meant to be?

  3. epicurvegan permalink
    January 5, 2009 12:01 pm

    I debated on whether to include things like wheatgrass juice and oil of oregnano in my post. I have tried oil of oregano, and though I know that a lot of people swear by it I didn’t find it did much of anything for any respiratory infection I’ve had. I’ve used it for more than 2 years now, and I have to say the other remedies I mentioned do a much better job. That could be because I just don’t respond to oil of oregano as well as other people; every person ‘s body and immune system reacts to remedies in a different way than someone else’s.
    As for the wheatgrass, I otherwise can’t stand the smell of fresh-cut grass, and that’s exactly what wheatgrass tastes like to me (not the fresh pea taste I’ve been told about). There’s a lot of disagreement about the benefits of wheatgrass, and, like the oil of oregano, I think that this is one supplement that works differently for different people. I’ve had it work for me far better than oil of oregano.
    The items I did include in my post, like the ginger and garlic, as well as the links to the store bought remedies, have been tried and used by members of my family with much success. And with their long histories of medicinal use and proven benefits, I don’t think anyone can go wrong by taking ginger and garlic when sick or healthy.
    There are many other foods that can be used medicinally for colds or the flu. I’ve read that in 2005 there was a shortage of star anise worldwide because there was a component of the spice that was the primary ingredient of Tamiflu. Perhaps we should all make masala chai at home when sick, as I think the ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, cardamom, and clove in the tea could pack a serious punch, besides being super tasty and comforting.

  4. February 21, 2009 9:16 pm

    This is great and super helpful! Thanks! Great post. ^_^

  5. October 28, 2009 3:59 am

    a great flu Fighting meal for all those colds caught stood outside shops selling fur in the winter:
    soften onions, garlic, ginger, some chili in a pan (all fresh of course and as much of each as you can handle!)
    crumble in a block of tofu with a knob of butter, some cumin and a handful of cashew nuts cook for 1 min and add the juice of half a lemon, throwing in the part you just squeezed for good measure. them add a splash of soya milk and some nutritional yeast flakes if you can get them. simmer for a few mins and add a handful of spinach.
    put some nice wholegrain bread on a plate, spread with houmus, and spoon on on your tofu mix.
    serve with more fresh spinach, some red pepper, spring onion, a good chug of nut/seed oil such a flax or pumpkin. eat with orange juice!

  6. MetalPrincess permalink
    February 10, 2010 7:27 pm

    thank you!! i really needed this info desperately, i’ve had a fever of 103.6 for 1 1/2 days already & i was getting kind of concerned. i dont believe in conventional medicine. it’s nothing but chemicals. which left me in bed ridden for 2 months last yr. only natural herbs for me!!

  7. August 4, 2010 8:48 pm

    Although this post IS old, i just wanted to say I found 3 errors while visiting your site. Check your wordpress install!

  8. Link permalink
    November 20, 2010 7:59 am

    Sambucol contains lactose, which comes from milk. So it’s not vegan.

  9. December 3, 2010 2:40 pm

    Actually, the Sambucol I’m referring to does not contain lactose, so perhaps you’re thinking of another brand?

    Here’s a direct link to the website of the company that produces the product:

    The ingredients don’t list lactose as being a component of this remedy, though I have seen several other brands that include honey as an ingredent, so that’s something else to look out for as well.

  10. December 3, 2010 2:44 pm

    I don’t use WordPress Install, but I do appologize for the broken links. I plan on doing an update to this post, however, so I will include updated links in that post.

    In the meantime, you could use Google to verify anything you’re looking for.

  11. January 24, 2011 10:15 pm

    Great post! All of those are excellent immunity boosters. Kombucha is also a serious contender in the flu fight. It alkalinizes, provides loads of B vitamins and is vegan to boot. Stay well, be well!

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