The most effective natural remedies for a cold are quite simple. Basically, you want to ramp up your self-care and focus on rest. This can be difficult for many of us. We live busy lives and feel like we need to be go-go-going all the time. However, getting a cold or other illness is a sign it’s time to slow down. Think of it as good practice in remembering to care for yourself.
Treatment vs. Natural Remedies for Cold
There’s no doubt about it: having a cold is annoying. But that fever, cough, and the post-nasal drip is evidence of your body fighting for you. Suppressing these symptoms can actually interfere with (and slow down) the healing process.
Instead of turning to “treatment” for your symptoms, think in terms of natural remedies. Work with your body by managing symptoms instead of fighting them. Below are some natural things you can do when you find yourself sick with a cold.
Most Importantly, Stay Hydrated
Your body is at its best when it is hydrated. That’s why staying hydrated is one of the top natural remedies for a cold.
Keep a bottle or glass of water with you at all times as you battle the cold. Water helps your body flush out germs. It also helps prevent tiredness and fatigue that are common when you don’t feel your best.
Sleep and Rest, Rest, Rest
As much as you can, slow down. Go to bed earlier. Sleep in a little more. Reduce stress as much as you can. Rest.
One reason you’re typically more tired during a cold is that your body is working overtime to get you well. Sleep helps your immune system do its best job fighting off cold viruses. Resting as much as possible supports your body’s efforts.
Help Yourself to (Healthy) Hot Drinks and Soups
Chicken soup is a classic at-home natural remedy for cold. It provides liquids, electrolytes from the broth, and warmth to help break up mucus. The perfect formula for hydration and healing! If you don’t like chicken soup specifically, have a bowl of bone broth or veggie soup instead.
Hot teas are good for the cold, too. Try herbal tea with lemon and honey. The steam and warmth help open your breathing pathways and soothe a sore throat. Honey also has antiviral properties to help your body fight infection.
Blow Your Nose Correctly (and Often)
It’s a simple but effective solution. Blow your nose often to get rid of phlegm that can carry germs. Just make sure you are blowing the right way:
- Using your tissue, cover your nose and apply pressure to close one nostril, leaving the other open
- Blow gently through your nose to release mucus from the open nostril.
- Repeat on the other side of your nose.
Otherwise, blowing your nose too hard or with both nostrils simultaneously can send the mucus into your ears or back down your throat, causing ear aches and not helping you get rid of the junk.
Rev Up the Vitamin C
Contrary to popular belief, vitamin C has not been proven to prevent a cold. However, some studies show it may help shorten the length of a cold. It’s best to be consuming it daily—not just at the start of an illness. Vitamin C is also a crucial vitamin for immune health and function.
There are vitamin C supplements available, but it’s easy to get enough through diet, as well. Fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C include:
- Bell peppers
- Chili peppers
- Broccoli and cauliflower
Utilize the Power of Salt Water
Salt water can help with cold symptoms in two main ways:
- Relieving a sore throat
- Releasing nasal congestion
To help a sore throat, gargle half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a cup of warm water a few times throughout each day. To help get rid of congestion, squirt a mixture of a cup of distilled water and ¼ teaspoon each salt and baking soda into one nostril at a time, letting it drain out. Do this a few times on each side.
Use a Menthol Salve Under Your Nose or on Your Chest
Menthol can help open up breathing passages and soothe a cough. Rub a mentholated salve under your nose or on your chest for some relief. (Just make sure you don’t consume it or put it in your nose!)
Eat Immune-Boosting Foods Daily
What you put in your body on a daily basis can boost your immunity, helping your body recover from colds and other illnesses faster. Focus on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables (especially those containing vitamin A and vitamin C), as well as healthy fats and proteins.
Remember, the best natural remedies for a cold focus on rest, hydration, and replenishment. Take care of your body so it can put up its best defenses against the common cold and anything else life throws your way.