Gingerly Attacking the Flu

gingerGinger is a treatment that has been used for a long time for a variety of things. Some can use it for nausea and vomiting, especially in pregnancy. It has also been used as a digestive aid and anti-inflammatory.

Today we’ll look at its effect on the immune system and how that affects flu and colds.

In a study looking at fresh ginger and dried ginger, researchers used assays to see if human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) would cause plaque formations in respiratory mucosal cell lines. In short the fresh ginger seemed to work by decreasing the plaque formation. Ginger also decreased viral attachment and internalization and higher concentrations could stimulate IFN-beta to possibly counteract the infection. 1

I think it’s important to remember that fresh ginger and not powdered ginger is what worked. This makes sense because in fresh foods there are chemicals that are active that disappear over time and will make the treatment ineffective. Garlic is very similar. Allicin in garlic is present in fresh garlic when the garlic is crushed. This goes away when dried and may be one reason why dried garlic doesn’t seem to work well in the studies of them.

Speaking of….

Garlic is another thing you can do to help prevent the flu or colds. In a Cochrane review of garlic they concluded that people that take garlic regularly have fewer incidences of colds then controls. It was a small trial they reviewed because many others didn’t meet their criteria. 2

So what do we do with this info? A few things.

First for Ginger

If you think you might be getting a cold or the flu, get some ginger, a lot, and juice it. If you don’t have a juicer then cut it up and make some tea with it. If you have the juice you can mix it with some lemon and maybe a little honey. Sip on that for a few hours, don’t down it all at once. Make some more when it’s gone and do that for a day or two. You’ll feel better. It is quite strong.

And for garlic

garlicTake a small clove and crush it. You can chew it if you want but like the ginger it is quite strong. Swallow whole or minced. If your stomach is sensitive then have it with some food. Just make sure it is crushed in some way. Don’t used pre-minced garlic. Make sure it’s fresh. The only two side effects I can think of for this are upset stomach (so take it with food if it causes this) and of course garlic odor. This is better to do as prevention than treatment in my opinion and based on the study but you could certainly use it for treatment. The most important thing is that you start right away. Don’t wait 48 hours and then decide you should try something. The sooner you can prevent more viruses from adhering and spreading, the faster you’ll be able to nip those nasty viruses in the butt.



If you feel like a cold or flu is coming on, get some rest. I know some people can’t avoid going to work or doing other things in life you just have to do, but if you can, lie down and sleep and relax and let your immune system do its thing early rather than stressing it for another 12-15 hours during the day. Remember that stress is a killer of you, not the flu.

Enjoy your winter season wherever you are and remember to stay safe from flu and colds.


  1. Chang, Jung San, et al. “Fresh ginger (< i> Zingiber officinale</i>) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines.” Journal of ethnopharmacology (2012).


One thought on “Gingerly Attacking the Flu

  1. I tried this last week when I got a cold & I am a total believer! I am beyond amazed how well it worked. On the first day of symptoms (which hit hard-severe fatigue, stuffy head, and coughing up yellow sputum) I put peeled, sliced ginger in a crockpot with 2 sliced lemons, 2 mandarins, cinnamon sticks, all spice and a little bit of honey. I ladled it into a french press and sipped the entire crock pot throughout the day and rested. It felt amazing on my throat. I repeated the second day and my symptoms were pretty much gone. I was back to myself in a day and a half. I can’t believe how well it worked. Give it a try.

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