Lemons are useful for everything from flushing the kidneys, protecting them against the formation of kidney stones, to alkalizing the blood. Most home remedies to treat a cold or flu are simple mixtures of lemon juice and other foods; however, when you use food for the treatment of disease, you should always alert your health practitioner first.
Lemons are high in vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that enhances the immune system and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Lemons are also high in potassium, an important mineral that helps the kidneys function to their fullest potential and is involved in regulation of blood pressure. Since the kidneys are essential in helping to flush waste matter from the blood, drinking lemon juice in combination with water or other foods provides support for renal function. Lemons also help alkalize the blood and urine by creating an alkaline-forming environment in the body, which slightly alters the pH. All of these factors suggest that lemons are one of nature's near-perfect treatments to enhance the immune system and fight off a cold or flu.
By boiling a entire cut-up lemon and half an onion in a pint of water, you can make a decoction that will help cut through and reduce mucus in the chest, writes Jethro Kloss in "Back to Eden." This mixture makes a tea that should be consumed a cup at a time, several times a day, to dry up congestion and sinus inflammation. It is quite bitter and can be sweetened with a small amount of honey or stevia.
Slicing a lemon and boiling it in about 1 cup of water for 8 minutes makes a base for a soothing cough remedy. Once the mixture has cooled and you have removed the pulp, add 2 tbsp. glycerin and stir to mix. After 10 minutes, add 1 tbsp. honey. Take a sip whenever needed to relieve throat pain from a cold or flu.
Lemon juice and honey mixed together in a small bowl provides a simple and quick cough and sore throat treatment during the flu. Honey and other sweet syrups interfere with the mechanism that triggers coughing, soothing the tickling and itching and suppressing the cough.
Both the flu and a cold can make you so uncomfortable that it becomes difficult to sleep. A lemon-based hot toddy may provide relief. Mix together a shot of rum or scotch, 2 tbsp. each honey and lemon juice and a teabag of your favorite tea. Add boiling water and steep. This is an excellent drink not only for promoting peaceful sleep but for relieving a cough and a sore throat. Do not serve this to children unless you leave out the alcohol.
If your symptoms persist or worsen, call your health practitioner. In general it takes about seven to 10 days for a cold or flu to fully resolve. If you have a choice between using fresh lemon juice or bottled lemon concentrate, use the fresh juice, which is higher in vitamins and minerals. Organic lemons are preferred over nonorganic to avoid any pesticide or chemical residue that might remain on the skin and in the pulp.