Homemade winter remedies

Homemade winter remedies


I was recently struck down by a particularly nasty winter bug and whilst hiding under the duvet feeling sorry for myself I wondered how I might have been able to naturally boost my immune system and avoid a repeat of this. I’m not keen on taking Lemsip or over the counter cold and flu tablets – I prefer to seek out a natural alternative and catch a cold before it has a chance to set in (this one took me by surprise!)

So I turned to Laura Carpenter for advice. Laura is a fully qualified medical Herbalist living and practising in the Cardiff area, and we are very pleased that she will be delivering exciting new workshops for us in 2015. She had loads of fantastic tips for me, and conveniently most of the ingredients were already in my kitchen!

Here are Laura’s top tips (and two recipes) for homemade winter remedies to beat those winter sniffles…


Garlic is well studied for its antibacterial, antiviral and antibiotic properties. It has been my experience when taking garlic that it has shortened the length of the duration of the cold. You can of course add more garlic to your food to get those effects but it is better as raw as you can stand it.

Garlic and onion syrup recipe

1 bulb of garlic (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 large white onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
Sugar or honey to cover
A jam jar or sealable container

Take onion and garlic, peel them and slice them thinly. Place a layer of the slice onion and garlic in the jam jar and then cover with sugar or honey. Add another layer of sliced onion and garlic and continue until you have used all of the onion and garlic. Seal the jar and leave in the fridge overnight. The next day you will have an onion and garlic syrup. You can use that as a cold and flu treatment, it is especially good for coughs. The syrup will last for three days in the fridge. Take 4-5 tsp per day until you feel better (I recommend holding your nose while you drink it!).


Ginger is another common kitchen cupboard staple with plenty of immune boosting properties. Simply slice root ginger (a thumb sized piece), no need to peel, and add to a mug of hot water. Leave to steep for 10 minutes and then drink for a boost to your circulation and immune system. You can also leave it to cool completely and add the infusion to a juice or smoothie for an extra boost.


Elderberry is a traditional cold and flu remedy and has been shown to have very strong antiviral properties. Often taken as a preventative or at the early stages of a cold or flu, but it has also been shown to be effective when taken during a cold or flu episode.

Rose hips

Rosehips are a natural source of vitamin C and are often made into syrup. Traditionally it was given as a cold and flu preventative and it was given as a vitamin C supplement in the second world war.

Elderberry syrup recipe

500g elderberries (remove from the stalk with a fork)
500ml water
250g sugar (you can substitute with honey if you’d prefer)
20ml cider/red wine vinegar or lemon juice

Add the elderberries and water to a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Simmer the berries for 15 min.

Sieve the mixture and then pour through muslin cloth.

Add the strained juice to a clean saucepan, add the sugar and bring to the boil, simmer for 15 min or until thickened.
Add the vinegar or lemon juice.

Bottle in a warm sterilised bottle and keep in the fridge.

Take ½ – 1 tsp per day for cold and flu prevention.

Please note: to substitute rosehips in this recipe, omit the vinegar/lemon juice and do not crush the rosehips.
Laura Carpenter is a medical herbalist living and practising in the Cardiff area. Laura trained at the University of East London, the Stratford Herbal Medicine Clinic and Whipps Cross Hospital dermatology clinic, London. She runs clinics in Cowbridge, Whitchurch and Neal’s Yard Remedies in the centre of Cardiff. Laura is passionate about bringing knowledge of medicinal plants back to Wales and runs free monthly herb walks across Cardiff from April – October.

Laura’s upcoming events

Natural cream making workshop – Saturday 13th December at The Little Shop of Calm, Cowbridge, course costs £60.00

Herbal Home Remedies course – Home study style introductory course to making simple remedies for family and friends £50.00 (receive a box of herbs and ingredients along with the course material)

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