Natural Health Remedies for You

Natural Home Remedies for Colds

Natural home remedies for colds include the use of herbs, homeopathic remedies, vitamins and minerals, as well as aromatherapy.

The common cold is a viral infection of your upper respiratory tract (your nose and throat). There are more than 200 viruses that can cause a common cold. The cold viruses are spread through the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks. They can also be spread by contact with someone who has a cold or by touching a contaminated object.

In response to a viral invasion, the membranes lining the nose and the throat become swollen and start producing extra mucus. This results in coughing, sneezing, nasal congestion, sore throat, and watery eyes. A cold usually lasts for 7 to 10 days.

Colds can happen to anyone but people who are particularly vulnerable are those with weakened immune systems. Most adults are likely to have a common cold once or twice a year. However, if an adult has more than 2 colds a year, it probably means that his immune system is depressed, or that there may be underlying toxicity in his body.

Symptoms of the Common Cold

Symptoms of a common cold usually appear about one to three days after exposure to a cold virus. Symptoms of the common cold may include:
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough
  • Itchy or sore throat
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Appetite loss
  • Mild fever (children may have a high fever)


Home Remedies for Colds

Colds cause uncomfortable symptoms but they are not life-threatening. The best way to fight a cold is to stimulate the body's natural defenses as soon as the cold symptoms first appear. However, if you cannot fight off the virus at the beginning, there are still a lot of natural home remedies for colds that you can use to make you feel better and make the cold go away faster.

Home remedies for colds are better than over-the-counter medications because OTC medications merely suppress the cold symptoms without strengthening your immune system. Medications that suppress the cold symptoms actually make the cold last longer because the cold symptoms are your immune system's attempts to flush out the virus.


Home Remedies for Colds - Herbs for Colds

There are quite a few herbs that can help boost your immune system so your body can fight the cold.
  • Echinacea: Research has shown that echinacea strengthens the immune system against cold viruses and many other germs as well. Echinacea increases levels of a chemical in the body called properdin, which activates the part of the immune system responsible for increasing defense mechanisms against viruses and bacteria.
  • Garlic: Garlic supports the immune system and can fight off infections because it contains several helpful compounds, including allicin which is an antibiotic. You can take garlic pills or use cloves of fresh garlic to make chicken soup.
  • Ginger: Ginger contains nearly a dozen antiviral compounds, some have specific effects against the most common family of cold viruses, the rhinoviruses. Other compounds in ginger help to relieve cold symptoms because they reduce pain and fever, suppress coughing and have a mild sedative effect that encourages rest. The easiest way to take this herb is to make fresh ginger tea. Just add a couple of tablespoons of fresh, shredded ginger root to a cup of boiling water.
  • Elderberry: Elderberry contains two compounds that are active against cold and flu viruses. It also prevents the virus from invading respiratory tract cells. There is a patented elderberry extract called Sambucol that is an excellent upper respiratory health product that many people have found effective in fighting off the cold or flu viruses.
  • Honeysuckle: The Chinese have long been using honeysuckle flowers to treat sore throat, colds, flu, tonsillitis, bronchitis and pneumonia. Look for herbal products that contains a Chinese herbal complex called "Yin Chiao" (made up of, among other herbs, honeysuckle flowers, forsythia fruit, peppermint leaf, and licorice root.) "Yin Chiao" is very effective in treating sore throats and colds. Follow the instructions of use on the product label.


Home Remedies for Colds - Nutritional Supplements

Vitamin C and zinc are the two nutritional supplements commonly used as home remedies for colds.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C supports immune system function through increased white blood cell activity. It has been found that when your vitamin C levels are high, your white blood cells are apparently reinvigorated, giving them more of the energy they need to neutralize the virus. High doses of Vitamin C (1000 mg 3 to 4 times daily) taken at the onset of a cold can nip the cold in its bud.
  • Zinc: Zinc has immune-boosting power as well as antiviral properties. It has been found that dissolving zinc lozenge in the mouth works well to shorten the duration of a cold (Dosage: 24 milligrams, dissolved in your mouth every 2 hours - up to 8 lozenges a day). Be sure to get the not-too-tasty zinc gluconate lozenge for it to work. DO NOT get zinc lozenges that are combined with citrate, tartrate, orotate or mannitol/sorbitol. They may taste good, but the cold-stopping capabilities of the zinc are completely inactivated.


Home Remedies for Colds - Homeopathic Remedies for Colds

Quite a few homeopathic remedies can relieve the various cold symptoms. Select the remedy that most closely matches the symptoms. Use a lower potency (6X, 6C, 12X, 12C, 30X, or 30C) and follow the instructions on the label.
  • Aconite Napellus: This remedy is for colds that come on suddenly with symptoms that are intense. Exposure to cold and wind, or a stressful or traumatic experience may have caused the illness. Symptoms include a dry stuffy nose with a hot thin discharge, and a scratchy throat. The person often feels thirsty, chilly, anxious, and restless.
  • Allium Cepa: This remedy is for a person who has watery eyes that sting, much sneezing, and a runny nose with clear discharge that irritates the nostrils and upper lip. The nose usually runs more when indoors than in open air.
  • Arsenicum Album: This remedy is for a person with frequent colds, sore throats, and chest problems. The nose may be stuffed but still runs. The person feels weak, restless, and anxious.
  • Ferrum Phosphoricum: This remedy is best used at the onset of a cold. It is also helpful during colds that are more advanced, when the person feels very weary, with a moderate fever, flushed cheeks, sneezing, and a short hard cough.
  • Natrum Muriaticum: This remedy is for colds that begin with sneezing and produce clear nasal discharge. The person may have a headache and the cold may be accompanied by cold sores around the mouth, and the lips can be chapped and cracked.
  • Nux Vomica: This remedy is for a person who is usually very irritable and chilly. He usually has a congested nose, sore throat, harsh cough, and sneezing.
  • Pulsatilla: This remedy is helpful for colds that produce thick, bland, yellow or greenish mucus. The nose feels stuffed indoors and runs in open air. The person feels worse in warm or stuffy rooms and feels better outdoors. The person has a desire to be comforted when ill.


Home Remedies for Colds - Aromatherapy for Cold Symptoms

Some essential oils can make effective home remedies for colds by alleviating some cold symptoms such as nasal congestion and coughing. There are also essential oils that have antiviral and immune-boosting properties.

  • Lavender: This oil has immune-boosting properties and is especially soothing if you have a cough. Lavender also has calming effects so it will give you a good night sleep.
  • Tea Tree: Tea tree is antiviral and can also prevent any secondary bacterial infections that may develop. Melissa and lemon oils also have the same properties.
  • Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus promotes circulation and also relieves congestion. Peppermint also has the same properties.
  • Thyme: Thyme has antiviral and immune-boosting properties.

You can add any of the above oils to hot baths or steam inhalations.

Related Topics

Causes of Sore Throat
Sore Throat Home Remedies
Natural Cough Remedies
Natural Laryngitis Treatment
Natural Flu Remedies


Balch and Stengler, Prescription for Natural Cures, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004)
J.A. Duke, The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook, (Mass Market Paperback, 2002)
Editors of Prevention Health Books, Prevention's Healing with Vitamins, (Rodale Books, 1998)
V.A. Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, (New World Library, 1991) (

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