Our family has been using natural cold remedies for nearly a decade. These alternatives to conventional cold medication will help you beat sickness in no time!
Whether we like it or not, we’re in the middle of that time of year when illness runs rampant.
Perhaps one of the most annoying–yet frequent–illnesses to battle is the common cold.
Thankfully, there are a plethora of natural cold remedies that can help you beat this nasty little virus without ever having to enter a conventional drug store.
Even before our family started making the transition to a more natural lifestyle, I never liked run-of-the-mill cold medications. Besides being full of some potentially dangerous ingredients, they just make me feel, well, loopy!
If a medication makes you feel worse than the sickness it is trying to better, then something’s not working!
The next time that little cold virus rears its ugly head, pull out one of these natural cold remedies.
1. Epsom Salt Baths
Besides helping you relax and sleep better at night, some believe epsom salts actually help detoxify your body, increase your white blood cell count and speed up the healing process (source)!
Detox baths are one of the simplest things you can do to combat any illness. Our family keeps Redmond Bath Salts (or on the Redmond site) on hand at all times.
2. Raw Garlic
Raw garlic is full of amazing health benefits–including being anti-viral. Consuming it helps boost the immune system and fight infections (source).
If eating it raw makes you squeamish, you can purchase odorless garlic capsules. But, first, check out these 7 ways to eat raw garlic. One of them might appeal to you!
3. Essential Oils
Essential oils have become my first line of defense against any ailment that has plagued our household over the past few years. Some tests have shown that essential oils are so strong that viruses cannot live in their presence (source).
Our favorites to use for colds are eucalyptus, peppermint, oregano, and an immune boosting or germ fighting blend (or the kids version). You can dab a drop of eucalyptus on your pajamas, which helps decongest you throughout the night. You can also mix eucalyptus and peppermint with a carrier oil and rub on the chest.
You can also diffuse the oils into the air (This is our favorite diffuser.) or add some oils to a warm bath. We use a homemade foaming hand soap as well as a homemade disinfectant spray made with essential oils. I simply add some drops of the immune-boosting blend to water in a glass spray bottle.
Before diving into blindly using essential oils, I recommend you read this post about the best way to learn about essential oils.
4. The Neti Pot
The neti pot simply provides a way for you to easily and effectively clean out your nasal passages by pouring a warm saline solution in one nostril and allowing it to drain out the other.
You can buy the saline solution at most drug stores, or you can try this recipe to make your own!
As a word of caution, be sure to use very sterile water in your neti pot.
Studies have shown that taking this herb can help boost your immune system, but the results have been mixed as to whether or not it actually prevents or shortens the life of a cold (source).
I previously took echinacea capsules daily during the cold and flu season until I discovered that it’s really best to use echinacea at the first sign of illness.
From personal experience, I have seen that when I start taking echinacea capsules, my symptoms either disappear or are very, very weak as opposed to my experiences with the cold virus before I discovered this wonderful herb!
6. Elderberry Syrup
Elderberries are a natural immunity booster. You can find the berries made into a syrup at most health stores or online at such places as Amazon. Or, you can try making your own elderberry syrup.
If I’m completely honest, our family doesn’t love the taste, so hubby and I opt to take elderberry capsules, while we give our kids elderberry gummies.
7. Good Nutrition
It sounds like a no-brainer, but it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that optimal nutrition will generally produce better health.
It might be time to make some homemade chicken soup, load up on some natural vitamin C via citrus fruits and drink some green smoothies.
A few years ago, I joined up with some other bloggers to write about 5 “immune-boosting” foods–pumpkin, garlic, yogurt, breakfast and green tea.
The very best vitamin and mineral sources come in real, whole foods. However, we all know that there are days, weeks and seasons when all we can do is hope to squeeze in a shower and keep the kids from killing each other. It’s during these times that upping our supplement intake may be wise.
If I feel a cold coming on, I typically up my vitamin C and zinc intake. I also take vitamin D3 throughout the winter months–in addition to fish oil and probiotics.
9. Raw Honey
This super food is anti-viral and an immunity booster. Raw honey is especially effective in soothing a sore throat (always my first sign that a cold is coming).
You can also stir a little into a bowl of hot water and inhale the steam. Or, sweeten some hot herbal tea with it and enjoy both the taste and health benefits.
Note that local raw honey is always your best bet for getting all the amazing health benefits from it! This is especially true when trying to combat seasonal allergies!
10. Natural Cold Kicker Tinctures/Drinks
I have yet to try one of these myself, but many attest to their fast effectiveness in kicking a cold. This one from Paula of Whole Intentions also looks pretty potent!
How to Know If It’s More Than a Cold
Colds and the flu can often mimic the same symptoms, but the flu is usually much more severe. As moms, it’s important to know the difference!
Colds are typically milder, and are more likely to come with runny or stuffy noses. They don’t often come with fevers, though.
The flu virus is nearly always accompanied by a fever as well as body aches, chills, headache, fatigue, and maybe even a sore throat.
I used to rely on just kissing my kids’ foreheads to determine whether or not they had a fever, but that didn’t cut it anymore when I needed to know for sure before sending them to school or church!
Interestingly enough, the night I wrote this post one of my daughters had a sore throat, so we broke out the thermometer to see if it were accompanied by a fever!
The thermometers I used on the girls that are pictured in this post are the:
The Braun ThermoScan® 5 Ear thermometer, which is the number one best selling thermometer in the US. The ear canal is the best site to measure a fever because of its close proximity to the eardrum, which shares the blood supply of the brain’s temperature control center.
Looking for even more natural cold remedies?
In addition to the 10 above natural cold remedies, here are some other ideas to keep your family healthy–and out of the drug stores–this winter!
6 Must-Haves to Stock in Your Natural Medicine Cabinet
10 Natural Ways to Prevent Colds and the Flu
10 Ways to Prepare for Cold and Flu Season
Our Winter Supplements Regimen
The Best Medicine for Sick Kids
The Most Beneficial Supplements When You Can’t Afford Them All
The Ultimate Guide to Building a Natural Medicine Cabinet
How to Avoid the Stomach Virus After Being Exposed
I also asked my Facebook readers for their suggestions. You can read their assortment of responses here.
What are some of your favorite natural cold remedies?
Disclaimer: Although I’m passionate about nutrition, natural living, and alternative health issues, I’m not a certified nutritionist, medical doctor, or practitioner of any kind. I’m not licensed to counsel anyone in medical matters, nor may I be held responsible for any course of action that you choose in regards to your own health or that of your family. Please remember that what I’m sharing is the result of my own experiences and years of study but may not necessarily be the right course of action for you. Please seek out the advice of your trusted healthcare provider. This blog is for informative and entertainment purposes only.
My grandma always made us hot lemon water when we weren’t feeling well. My kids love drinking “honey tea”. Hot water, lemon juice, raw honey and cinnamon.
Herbal tea and honey are our go to drink when we are sick. I am very interested in trying some of these remedies and see if they help us.
I love epsom salt baths but never considered having my kids soak in one before a PA where my husband works mentioned the health benefits – even for children. Since becoming more aware of nutrition I’ve noticed how many illnesses in our home seem to be preceded by eating a lot of sugar/processed foods.
We make a warm drink with raw apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, cinnamon and raw honey, adding water around 115°F so the beneficial properties of the other ingredients aren’t compromised.
I have Asthma, so I use natural and medicinal remedies. My favorite drink to sooth a sore throats and help clear my sinuses is peppermint tea, it tastes good and the peppermint works right away to open my nasal passages helping me to breathe better.
I am an old believer in homemade Chicken soup !
This is perfect timing for us.
We have been defusing essential oils, what else can we do for an infant? (8 months, 24 pounds). I don’t want to use infant tylenol but he is so miserable.
Lemon tea with honey is my go to for cold and/or store throats, along with loading up on vitamin C. I also push apple cider vinegar on the family for every ailment.
My favorite is Hot ginger and lemon tea!!
Whether it’s the garlic or the broth or the salt, we always cook up a big pot of chicken rice soup. It helps get some good nourishment in everyone to fight off the illness better!
When we feel a cold coming on we diffuse essential oils, start echinacea, up our elderberry syrup, and good ol fashioned homemade chicken soup for dinner!
Rest and epsom salt baths. Also tea and honey.
We hang out in the bathroom with the shower on for the steam. Also hot tea with honey and chicken noodle soup!
Me and My mom love,love,love, ginger lemonade it kicked our cold’s out of the park and it is so delicious!
We love to use essential oils as our first line of defense. We also do steam showers, epsom salt soaks, diffusers, and healing foods like bone broth soup and smoothies. I wish my kids would drink hot (warm) drinks, that would be wonderful!
We use diffusers with eucalyptus or peppermint oils or other health blends, steam showers, herbal tea, chicken soup as much as possible. I’m looking forward to see more comments, because everyone but me has been sick for nearly a month now.
We love Emergen-C vitamin packets and essential oils!
I make elderberry syrup for my sickies as well a ginger, clove, cinnamon stick, honey and lemon tea.
We always make a simple tea out of cinnamon sticks and sweeten it with honey. It works every time to fight a sore throat.
We added olive leaf extract to our cold arsenal when our chiropractor recommended it several years ago. Also thieves EO in a carrier oil rubbed on the bottoms of our feet at bedtime.
I just used Epson salts on my oldest last night!
My favorites are vitamin c, elderberry and fire juice. Kicked many a cold with those. 🙂
I like the cough syrup Kate at Modern Alternative Mama has a recipe for. Coconut oil, honey, and lemon juice.
For the flu, definitely activated charcoal!! It had stopped me from catching the tummy bug my family has had at least twice! Plus after giving it to my girls (just open a capsule into Applesauce or yogurt) one didn’t throw up at all and the other only threw up once more and were done! I am sold on it!!
I like to drink lots of hot ginger tea; thanks for the chance.
jslbrown2009 at aol dot com
My kids like “hot tea” (warm water with honey and lemon), and i always use a humidifier to help break up congestion.
Raw honey & lemon
Kick it immune(echinacea)
Onions & Honey
We always use Elderberry Syrup, swear by it and essential oils! Anytime I fly, I use my essential oil blends I have made.
Honey is our go to for the ickies every time!
Honey is definitely my kids’ favorite! I like to breathe in steam to try to break up congestion.
Hi, Erin! I use essential oils, too. As a preventative we take two capsules of low-odor garlic, daily. When I feel myself beginning to come down with something; I will put some oregano oil in a capsule and take that. This usually does the trick. I agree that nutrition is key to staying healthy.
Your daughters are precious. 🙂
We use a lot of thieves oil, drink lots of water (at the correct pH level), drink warm water(or tea) with lemon, honey and apple cider vinegar and rest.
We turn to herbal tea with raw local honey and fresh lemon juice!
I love my SinuRinse, kind of like a neti pot. I also live off of throat coat tea and hot honey and lemon water when I’m sick
This is a very comprehensive list–thanks so much for all this information in an easy-t0-reference format.
Honey is a staple here in my house, and I swear by Umcka.
Oregano Oil and Chicken soup! 🙂
Well done on this list! I always have several of these on hand especially essential oils and honey!
We do a flu bomb shot 🙂 A mixture of acv, honey, lemon, garlic, cinnamon, and turmeric. Works great! We do a lot of what you have suggested as well.
I can endorse the remedies already listed but to avoid the need for remedies, start building immunity in the fall with a regimen of cod liver oil that has 400 iu’s of vitamin D3 in it daily.
We just got over the flu here. 🙁 We did raw garlic and honey. And ACV.
I have heard so much about elderberry syrup. I hope to try it soon!
My grandmother used to cut an onion in half, place it cut side up in a cup, and put a tablespoon or two of sugar on top. The liquid stuff that drained into the cup was then stirred into a small cup of water, and THAT’S what we would drink. It was DISGUSTING!, but it did the job every single time.
I give my kids the children’s version of Cold Care and Throat Coat teas with local honey in them. Also elderberry gummies and essential oils to boost immune systems and treat symptoms. Lots of homemade chicken soup with garlic in it, too.
I use essential oils, humidifiers, and manuka honey in smoothies when we get sick. We also really like Wellness Formula which are capsules with all of the good herbs in them to boost your immune system 🙂
When I have a sore throat or start to get a cold, I drink chicken broth with garlic and ginger simmered in it.
My go-to cold remedy is hot cider with Lemon and Honey. Also, homemade chicken soup with a little hot sauce to open the sinuses.
Our family has always gargled warm salt water for sore throat, since germs can’t live in a saline environment. Doesn’t taste the best (think- a big mouth of ocean water), but it helps!
I love honey, I take a tbsp 2X a day when I feel a cold coming and it usually shortens it and makes it less severe. My kids love this tradition too!
My son’s pediatrician recommended Silver spray for sore throats (ACS 200 Extra Strength Advanced Cellular Silver). Our whole family uses it, and I’ve noticed if we use it at the onset of a sore throat or cold that we haven’t gotten sick. It is a homeopathic remedy that binds to certain proteins in germs/bacteria and kills them.
When we have many people in the house, I diffuse Thieves essential oil as a preventative measure. I put it on the bottom of our children’s feet if they are sick and diffuse it in their bedrooms during the night.
My son enjoys drinking homemade chicken broth when he is sick, especially when he doesn’t feel like eating anything.
My go-to cold remedies are homemade elderberry syrup and cinnamon-honey virus kicker (raw honey mixed with ceylon cinnamon). If I really feel like I’m coming down with something, I’ll warm up some water (not hot, just warm), mix in elderberry syrup and the cinnamon-honey, and drink it like tea ;). I also found some actual teabags that claim to be full of immune-boosting ingredients, so sometimes I’ll make that actual tea and add my elderberry syrup to it.
Besides some good old chicken soup, you covered just about everything! The neti pot takes some practice:)
Apple Cider Vinegar and Chicken Noodle Soup Chock full of celery, carrots, Garlic and Onine.
I like to make a raw honey tincture infused with echinacea, yarrow flower, and elderberry. The kids like it and it boosts immunity. Great post!
I’m going to try to remember the Epsom salt remedy. That sounds like a good one for little ones when they’re getting something. We also use the honey tea remedy and for my little ones I make a “medicine tea” with thyme, peppermint, olive leaf and eccinechea and raw honey. Always glad to hear more about natural ways to beat illness!
We like the Zarbee’s all natural products, especially to help a cough with mucus. They even have a baby cough syrup now with Agave nectar instead of honey. We also use essential oils, diluted on feet, throat, or chest, or diffused. Have recently tried chopping up fresh garlic into some fractionated coconut oil and applying that for infections and it seems to work great. Gets more potent after a few days in the jar.
I am very new to the Natural and Essential Oils that can be used to help with colds and other ailments but I do know that fresh Honey does miracles for so many different ailments we contract.
Vitamin C and chicken noodle soup!
The adults in our house use oregano oil on the bottom of our feet. Adults and children use essential oil rollers and we use essential oil inhalers. We do use echinacea if we know we have been exposed to an illness. I am saving this blog post. It has so many natural remedies. I have yet to find something for aches and pains that works. I really don’t like using ibuprofen.
I’m new to natural remedies. I started using an herbal tea with honey for sore throats last year though. This is a great list!
When not pregnant or nursing I take oil or oregano orally whenever I feel something coming on. It is potent but effective! My whole family takes it- I just have to convince my husband. ?
My natural home remedies are, drinking herbal tea with lemon and ginger. Vitamin C eat plenty of oranges, all natural nasal rinse, steam, and drinking lots of water.
Congrats, Julie! You WON! Please email me at thehumbledhomemaker at gmail dot com to claim your prize!
Honey, cinnamon, lemon mixture for coughs/sore throats
Elderberry syrup all winter round
Vicks humidifier/lavendar oil at night for congestions/coughs
I really like elderberry syrup and Traditional Medicinals’ Throat Coat tea.
I like to make lemon-honey tea for colds. Chicken noodle soup also helps!
Oh I have to say…when we get colds…I always make homemade chili! It always helps so much with the noses and clears you out a bit!
Lemon honey ginger cayenne tea
Honey lemon tea is my favorite for sore throats
Our go-to remedies are Vitamin C, Elderberry syrup, and Elderberry gummies for our two-year-old. Thank you for this list. I’m going to incorporate Epsom salts too.
So far Vitamin C has been my main go-to for a cold, but I’m looking into adding elderberry syrup soon! I also love essential oils! Drinking apple cider vinegar in water seems to make my cold symptoms less severe as well. I’m all for these natural options as being pregnant doesn’t allow me to take most typical cold medicines.
I love making a honey and lemon hot drink and also taking Vitamin C.
I have a nasty cold right now, and Breathe Right strips really help me sleep at night when my nose is stuffy.
Would love to enter the Amazon card giveaway!
I usually use warm salt water gargle and honey lemon tea. I also make a big pot of vegetable noodle soup.
We use Eucalyptus and Peppermint EO in some sort of diffuser. I’m also a fan of fresh garlic or Kyloic Garlic Immune Supplements to help get over anything. Elderberry Syrup is great if it’s virus based illness.
I am a fan of elderberry syrups and have had some luck with various oils and homemade vapor rubs. This list is great because I can get most of these items even while we’re living overseas.
Hot tea (drinker’s favorite, but lemon herbal is pushed) with raw local honey is a standby in our house for treating colds and sore throats. We also enjoy homemade elderberry syrup–I use it for prevention throughout the fall/winter/spring; others in the house use it when feeling bad.
I love neti pot as well as thieves essential oil.
Elderberry syrup, raw honey, epsom salt baths, vitamin C and D, and magnesium.
Honey, tea, soup, and steaming yourself over a pot o hot water with eucalyptus oil
Epsom Salt baths
Essential Oils -oregano, thieves, melrose
We pull out Emergen-C, up our elderberry intake, and use essential oils. I like to make chicken soup with lots of garlic and some cayenne. If it’s throat related we make a ginger tea, or take spoons of raw honey/fresh lemon juice.
I make and can Lemon Honey Jelly to put in hot tea during cold and flu season. Because I can it, we have it readily available in the pantry.
One word of caution on the Epsom Salts, it is not recommended for diabetics to use them as they may cause skin irritation which could lead to an infection.
Honey for sore throats and in night-time tea, epson salt baths, eucalyptus oil!
Essential oils for building up immunity, Emergen-C, and diffusing EO’s for whatever symptom is most bothering at the time.
Our CSA farmer told me for colds to use raw garlic cloves in honey (yes eating them whole) and they knock out our colds. I loved raw honey from my local area farms to combat my hay fever allergies this year. I hardly had to use my neti pot. I love using Oregano oil when I feel something coming on (sickness wise). I also love my digestion blend and immune booster oils for when we get the flu.
Thanks so much for these great tips. I love epsom salt baths and take echinacea when I feel a cold coming on. Sometimes a hot toddy (whiskey, lemon, honey and hot water) helps too… just 1 though 😉
My grandma always had me use zinc lozenges (though I hated the taste, they did seem to help!). My husband and I found some tablets with vitamin c, zinc, and other cold fighting ingredients – we always use those when we feel like we’re getting sick! We also use our neti pots or simulator (daily when we’re feeling sick!), try to get more rest, and drink plenty of fluids. Those are a few of the things we do. Thankfully we haven’t gotten sick as much the past few months!
Autocorrect….sinugator (a battery powered neti pot-like thing), not simulator!
We take oregano oil in capsule form! Very potent anti-viral, in addition to many of the others you mentioned!
Essential oils and Tea with honey & lemon
Tea, soup, hot bath, and essential oils.
honey, tea, soup