Natural cold remedies were not something I looked into growing up. When I felt bad I reached into our medicine cabinet and choked down some awfully tasting and artificially colored concoction. Sadly, I had many bad colds in my teens and early twenties… I even broke a rib once from a bad cough that took months to go away. Not fun, and NOT good.
The thing I have loved most about my transition to real food and health living was how rarely I get sick now. Even with two young children and a lack of sleep (thank-you-little-baby) I have been able to stay clear of major illness. It’s something I don’t take for granted.
But still, no matter how “virtuous” your diet is (and trust me, mine is a pretty solid 80/20… not even close to perfect) sickness happens. And with cold and flu season upon us it’s good to have some arsenal up your sleeves to combat the little buggers at first symptom. And that’s why I’m sharing ten awesome all natural cold remedies!
10 All Natural Cold Remedies
Elderberry has been a popular cold and flu remedy for a long time. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Some evidence suggests that chemicals in elder flower and berries may help reduce swelling in mucous membranes, such as the sinuses, and help relieve nasal congestion. Elder may have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties.”
Since elderberry contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties, elderberry appears to boost the production of some immune cells and may also help stop a virus from spreading (source).
Here are some ways to use elderberry as a natural cold remedy:
Garlic has long been favored as a way to stimulate the immune system and help fight viruses. Some research even suggests that garlic may reduce your risk of catching a cold in the first place! For best results use raw garlic, either crushed, diced, or minced.
Here are some garlic tips for natural cold remedies:
- No Flu “Tea” with Garlic from Homemade Mommy
- Garlic, Honey, & Lemon Tea freom the Nourishing Gourmet
3. Chicken Noodle Soup
When you are sick, certain types of white blood cells are released into your system to fight the infection. This process can cause inflammation and the release of mucus, which is what causes your miserable stuffy nose. The theory is, compounds found in chicken soup inhibit the chemicals that cause the inflammation…which makes you feel better! Another reason soup is so good as a natural cold remedy is that bone broth is a great source of minerals… something most people are deplete of when ill.
4. Neti Pot
I love my Neti Pot… and with good reason! Using a saline solution, this small ceramic pot helps irrigate (or flush out) the nasal passage. It thins mucus so it can drain more easily. It helps relieve congestion, pressure, and other sinus symptoms.
You can find neti pots online here.
5. Warm Herbal Tea
Herbal tea can pack a double punch when it comes to natural cold remedies. Hot liquids can relieve nasal congestion, prevent dehydration, and soothe irritated throats. Add some powerful herbs that are good for colds and you’ve got a winning combination.
6. Cod Liver Oil
When our immune system is impaired is when we are must vulnerable to get attacked by a big ole’ nasty cold virus. Vitamin D has been shown to support a healthy immune system. In fact, people with low levels of vitamin D have been shown to be more susceptible to cold and flu viruses (source). Vitamin D is also a great way to help get rid of a cold after you’ve got it. And that’s because it’s a antimicrobial that helps fight viruses, fungi, and bacteria.
Sadly, so many people are highly deficient in vitamin D… and Cod Liver Oil (and especially Fermented Cod Liver Oil) is a great source of vitamin D and A. I always take a little extra Cod Liver Oil when I feel a cold coming on.
Read more about why I love Cod Liver Oil here.
7. Ginger Root
Ginger is pretty amazing. It’s a powerful food that can help with digestive and stomach issues, and can also help with headaches that may come along with your cold.
Natural cold remedy recipes using ginger:
8. Detox Bath
Having a cold generally is accompanied by stress… or is it stress that brings on the cold? Either way, giving your body some down time and a relaxing epsom salt bath can help detox the body while also relieving inflammation.
My favorite detox bath recipes:
- 2o Something Allergies… and Counting Down has a whole lovely post to get you started here.
9. Essential Oils
Pure essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts. Certain oils can have healing properties that can be use quite effectively as natural cold remedies. But using essential oils should be done carefully, as you can over do it. Certain brands of essential oils have combined oils that are designed to help fight infection, viruses, and the like. (You can see two examples here and here.) Certain oils like wild orange, clove bud, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils have been known for their ability to help with cold symptoms taken either internally or applied externally.
Here are a few ways to use essential oils to combat your cold:
- DIY Natural Vapor Rub using essential oils from Mommypotamus.
- How to use Essential Oils for Cold and Flu by The Prairie Homestead
10. Vitamin C (the real food way)
As a powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C can help boost the immune system and is really important for respiratory tract health. While there are lots of Vitamin C supplements available, I rather boost my diet with Vitamin C through real food. (If you do take a supplement, be careful as many are derived from corn and are GMO). When I need a boost of Vitamin C I prefer to make some honey sweetened lemonade as lemons contain 22% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C.
Other foods high in Vitamin C include:
- Leafy Greens
- Red Bell Peppers
And of course, good ole’ fashion REST
Along with the above natural cold remedies, it’s important to get some rest. Our bodies are amazing when we fuel and rest them appropriately. Also, remember that if your conditions don’t improve within a couple of days that you may want seek advice from your healthcare professional. Serious conditions like infections, bronchitis, or asthma can look a lot like a common cold… so be smart.
Tell me… What are your go-to natural cold remedies?