It’s that time of year when the sniffles get us down. Scratchy throats, tickling coughs and the ubiquitous runny nose. Being sick is never fun. And while it’s true that sometimes you just have to let viruses run their course, there are proven natural cold remedies that can help you feel better and alleviate some of those annoying cold and flu symptoms.
For 12 years I’ve successfully used homeopathy in conjunction with other home remedies. There’s still no instant miracle cure but getting lots of rest and using these remedies at the first sign of a cold will help you feel better fast.
4 Feel Better Fast Remedies
I know, you’ve heard it before but this might be the most important tip of all! My favorite feel better beverage is a soothing tea made with a few slices of ginger and lemon and sweetened with honey.
You can also try broth, herbal teas, ginger ale and good old chicken soup. Stay away from caffeinated beverages like cola and coffee, which can have the opposite effect and lead to dehydration. Having 8-10 glasses a day will help immensely.
2. Make your own electrolyte drink
If you have a stomach bug that’s causing dehydration you can make an electrolyte solution by combining 2 tablespoons of sugar (or honey) with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 quart (4 cups) water.
Garlic has antibacterial properties that chase colds and vampires away. It’s best consumed raw – cooking can destroy its beneficial properties. If you’re feeling brave, mash up a small head of garlic and mix with raw honey to take by the spoonful.
Elderberry syrup is a great thing to keep in your fridge during cold and flu season. If taken as soon as flu symptoms appear, it can shorten the duration of the flu by 3-4 days. We like this syrup made with raw honey and propolis. Just make sure you’re getting elderberry extract – jams, jellies and juices won’t have the same effect.
3 Homemade Sore Throat + Cough Remedies
A few years ago I found a recipe for a homemade honey-thyme cough syrup, and I was immediately in love. Honey is very soothing for a sore, scratchy throat. It can help calm a tickling cough, too. Thyme containes thymol, which has healing properties and is a powerful antimicrobial that is particularly good for respiratory and bronchial infections.
The recipe is very simple. Boil 2 cups of water in a pan. Remove from heat and add 3 Tablespoons of fresh thyme. Let steep for at least 10 minutes, or until cool. Stir in 1 cup of honey. Continue stirring until dissolved. Strain out the thyme, if desired, and transfer to a glass jar. Keep refrigerated for up to 2-3 weeks.
Scratchy, itchy sore throats can benefit from a salt water gargle. The salt helps loosen things up. Use warm, not hot water and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt per 8 ounces warm water.
The health benefits of apple cider vinegar are too long to list! It has been used for centuries for all sorts of conditions and ills. Gargling with equal parts apple cider vinegar and warm water is great for a sore throat, and the acidity will kill germs. For sinus drainage, use 1 teaspoon of ACV in one cup of warm water. But use caution – too much apple cider vinegar can cause irritation. Make sure to dilute it and you’ll still be able to enjoy the benefits.
3 Natural Congestion Remedies
The most annoying thing about a cold is the mucus, am I right? It’s so aggravating not to be able to breathe through your nose. To help with congestion, use a humidifier. The damp air really helps at night. Just take care to clean it properly to prevent mold.
No humidifier? Not problem. You can also heat up some water in a pot on the stove and carefully hold your head over it with a towel draped down. Just be careful not to get too close – steam can cause burns. I add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to the water, which helps clear out nasal passages. Just be sure to keep your eyes closed with that one. :)
You can also make a soothing homemade vapor rub out of coconut oil, shea butter and essential oils. I like this recipe.
9. Homemade Nasal Spray + Neti Pots
Making a homemade nasal spray is so easy (and has less chemicals!). Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 8 ounces of hot water. Use a neti pot or bulb syringe to flush out the nasal cavity. Hold one nostril closed and gently squirt or pour the water through the other nostril while tipping the head forward a bit. This feels weird at first, but the warm, salty water will help draw out the stuffiness.
It seems mom was right – chicken soup really is the best medicine for a cold. The soup has anti-inflammatory benefits and helps clear congestion. Not to mention it’s soothing and comforting. And don’t worry, it doesn’t matter whether it’s homemade or store-bought – both work just as well.
What about you? Do you rely on natural remedies when you have a cold?