It’s no fun when cold season hits and you start to feel an illness coming on. Cough, congestion, runny nose, sore throats, and fuzzy mental clarity are all common symptoms of yearly colds.
Many people reach for an over-the-counter medication at the first sign of sickness, but sticking with all-natural options is actually your best bet in many common cold or cough cases. Below are some of the best natural cold remedies and why they can be the most effective choice.
The Benefit of Natural Cold Remedies
When the cough and cold medicine when symptoms hit, there are really good reasons to stick with natural remedies.
For one, you avoid all of the artificial colors and flavors, refined sugars, and more lurking in traditional medications. But also, treating cold and cough too soon can actually interfere with your body’s natural healing process. Here’s why:
- When you have a fever, it’s your body’s way of creating an unpleasant environment to try and kill germs and viruses.
- Coughing helps clean your breathing passages and remove germ-filled mucus from your lungs and body.
- A stuffy nose needs to be blown and drained instead of having flow restricted by an over-the-counter decongestant. With time and some natural remedies, your body can take care of that on its own too.
Your body is smart and often knows what it’s doing when you have cold-like symptoms.
So, some natural cold remedies can help support your body in its healing process and possibly expedite recovery.
Here are some of the best natural cold remedies to try.
1. Gargle Salt Water Mixture
As soon as you start to feel sick, stir ¼-½ teaspoon of salt into a cup of warm water and gargle it 2-4 times throughout the day.
Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring relief from dryness and scratchiness. For further relief:
- Try gargling herbal tea to reduce a tickle in your throat
- Add apple cider vinegar to help suppress cough
- Add honey to increase the thickness of the mixture and and soothe irritated mucous membranes
2. Have a Shot of Ginger
Ginger is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, making it a great natural remedy for cold, cough, congestion, nausea, and fever.
You can either chew the ginger directly or take a shot of ginger juice. Many local juice stores or natural health stores will have either. For a more palatable option (since taking straight ginger can be pretty rough!), you can use an all-natural candy like Ginger Chews.
3. Take Some Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry fruits contain natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them great for cold season. Elderberries have been used for centuries to boost the immune system for various ailments, and recent research has shown elderberry supplementation may reduce cold duration [1,2].
You can take elderberry concentrate or, to receive the most benefits, try a homeopathic elderberry formula like Sambucol Black Elderberry Syrup where the flavonoids (a type of antioxidant) are preserved most effectively.
4. Blow Your Nose Often (and Gently)
As mentioned above, medications that address congestion are often not the best for cold and cough recovery. Instead, one of the easiest natural cold remedies is simple: blow your nose!
When you blow your nose regularly, you remove germ-carrying mucus from your body instead of sniffling it back into your head. However, make sure you don’t blow it too hard, as too much pressure can push the mucus into your ear passages and cause earaches.
5. Utilize Essential Oils
Many essential oils are good for cold- and cough-related symptoms due to antiviral, antimicrobial, and decongestant properties.. Those include:
- Peppermint essential oil
- Eucalyptus essential oil
- Frankincense essential oil
- Rosemary essential oil
- Cinnamon essential oil
6. Take a Steamy Shower or Bath
Steam helps open up your nasal passages and detoxify your body. Take a nice hot shower or bath to accomplish this.
If you bathe, add some epsom salts to pull out toxins and increase relaxation as your body heals.
7. Enjoy Some Garlic
Not only does garlic have powerful antiviral and antimicrobial properties, it contains vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals helpful for healing.
A common natural remedy for cold season is eating raw garlic, but like raw ginger, it’s not the easiest thing to do. If eating raw garlic is too hard, simply add minced garlic to your meals to boost your nutrition and support your body’s healing process.
8. Drink Bone Broth and Warm Liquids
Bone broth is a very popular home remedy these days, and for good reason. It’s packed with electrolytes, healthy protein, and immune-boosting vitamins and minerals.
Plus, warm liquids are helpful for clearing mucus and opening up clogged airways during a cold. If bone broth isn’t your thing, other hot liquids like herbal tea are good too—and they also help prevent dehydration.
9. Employ Homeopathic Remedies
If you want a natural remedy to take for cough and cold issues and isn't traditional medication, consider going homeopathic. There are several homeopathic options that work naturally with your body—instead of against it—and that address the root issue.
Some good homeopathic options include:
- Boiron Oscillococcinum: used to temporarily relieve flu-like symptoms like body aches, feeling run-down, chills, and high temperatures.
- Sambucol Black Elderberry: for sore throat, coughing, nasal and sinus congestion, chills, sneezing, and more. Available in syrup form too here.
- Hyland’s Cold Tablets: to temporarily relief sore throat, runny nose, congestion, sneezing, and other common cold symptoms. Non-drowsy without side effects.
- Boericke and Tafel Bronchitis and Asthma Aide: used for help loosen mucus and open up bronchial passageways for wheezing and congestion relief.
For more homeopathic cough and cold remedies, click here.
10. Use Natural Menthol
An easy way to support more open breathing passages and soothe irritated nose skin is by using a small amount of natural menthol.
You can either apply it as a salve under your nose (both don’t put it in your nose!) or take it in a menthol-containing lozenge. Zand Menthol HerbaLozenges are a good options, as they’re sweetened only with brown rice syrup instead of sucrose or corn syrup and without any artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavors.
11. Rest and Sleep
The power of sleep should not be undermined when it comes to illness.
When you have a cold or flu, your body is expanding extra energy to heal you. Help it recover more fully by getting as much sleep and rest and you can. If you struggle to fall and stay asleep, consider an all-natural sleep aid to help.
Cold and cough season can make it hard to avoid getting sick. If you do come down with cold or flu-like symptoms, give yourself time to recover and know that there are natural options to support your body.
For more natural cold remedies and products to help your cough and cold symptoms, check out our Homeopathic Cough and Cold section here.
Disclaimer: Statements made have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.