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Herbal Remedies - How To Treat A Cold

Updated on October 11, 2011

Natural Remedies For Colds

Over the counter remedies aren't always the solution when treating the common cold. There are plenty of natural ingredients that can help the body heal itself, many of which we all have in our kitchens. Some people don't realise that nature can provide us with essential healing properties for little or no extra cost, as you may already have some of the ingredients at home.

Things such as honey, garlic, citrus fruits, ginger, rosemary, sage and thyme are all everyday kitchen produce that can be used effectively in treating the common cold. Read on for the explanations as to how they work.

Note: If you are pregnant, ALWAYS consult a doctor before using any essential oils.

How To Treat A Cold

Citrus Fruit:

Lemon, Grapefruit and Orange juices are all antiseptic and have uplifting properties. Orange can bring down a temperature, Grapefruit stimulates the lymphatic system and fights fevers, and Lemon cleanses and purifies.

Eat fresh fruit to boost vitamin C levels and heat these essential oils in a vapouriser to brighten a mood.


This store cupboard favourite can soothe sore throats and banish the irritation of tickly coughs. It can also give relief from headaches, and promotes relaxation. Use instead of sugar to sweeten herbal drinks and food.


Can be used in root of oil form. Ginger is an antiseptic, a stimulant, an expectorant and good for joint pain. Root Ginger can be made into a tea (especially good if combined with Honey), or grated into foods to add flavour as well as being beneficial to the body. Ginger oil can be used in a vapouriser to stimulate the senses or infused with a carrier oil and used as a rub.


Whether in clove, powder, tablet or oil form, Garlic has anti-bacterial properties to help the immune system fight infection. It can also be an effective remedy for chest infections. Try to include a form of Garlic in your diet to help prevent colds.


Echinacea strengthens the immune system and can shortern the length of a cold or flu infection. Echinacea be be used in tea as a preventative measure, and can be found as herbs, herbal tea bags, and in liquid form.


Eucalyptus is an antiseptic essential oil and works on the respiratory tract. It can soothe inflammation and clear catarrh from the head and sinuses. A few drops on a tissue or handkerchief inhaled at regular intervals will relieve the discomfort of nasal congestion.


Rosemary can ease headaches and sore throats, and also has an uplifting quality. It can be gargled with a diluted syrup to ease a sore throat, or drank as a tea to treat an aching head. Rosemary can be bought as a dried herb or an essential oil.


Sage is useful for treating head colds and restoring the appetite. Sage leaves can be drank as a herbal tea throughout the day.


Thyme fights infections, relieves low spirits and can combat against exhaustion. Can be used in fresh, dried, or oil form to make a tea that can be ingested three times daily.

Ways To Heal

Steam Inhalation:

Steam inhalation can help to decongest blocked sinuses and boost the body's immune system.

Fill a large bowl with very hot water and drop in 4 Eucalyptus leaves. You can also add Pine for more decogestant properties, Thyme to clear infected sinuses, Lemon juice for extra cleansing of the head, or Grapefruit juice if trying to target a fever.

Place a towel over the bowl and over your head, and inhale the steam for 10 minutes.

You could also use the ingredients in essential oil form but use sparingly as they are super strong and could possibly irritate the eyes.

If you don't have the time to use steam inhalation, you could always soak a handkerchief in the water, wring it out and place over the air vent in your car.

Bathing In Essential Oils

A deep warm bath with soothing herbs Lavender and Chamomile will ensure a restful night's sleep. Add 4-5 drops of each essential oil and swirl into the bath water. Both are safe and completely natural sedatives and will help to calm the mind and restore tired muscles.

For pain relief, especially that of a headache, add a few drops of Marjoram oil. For restlessness add Geranium.

Sleep can be further aided by adding any combination of the above oils to a vapouriser in the bedroom, or by placing the oils in a small bowl of water under the radiator.

A damp handkershief soaked in the bath water could also be placed near to the bed to aid inhalation.

Cordial To Cure A Cold

A soothing Honey, Lemon and Ginger cordial will chase away a lingering cough and sore throat.

The Honey will ease a sore throat and induce a restful sleep, the Lemon will help to ward off infection and the warming effect of ginger will stimulate the circulation and restore vitality to the body.

How to make:

Pour 1 litre of boiling water into a jug and add a sliced Lemon, 3 tablespoons of Honey, and a knob of root Ginger. Stir well.

Once the mixture has thoroughly cooled, strain and sip throughout the day.


Relieve the aches, pains and shivers that accompany a cold with a restorative and warming muscle rub.

A gentle massage of Almond and Basil oil will ease the muscles, especially when blended with uplifting and antiseptic oils such as Lemon and Juniper.

For a more invigorating rub, add 1-2 drops of Coriander or Black Pepper to Almond oil. Both are warming herbs that help to ease the body's stiffness and stimulate the circulation. Black Pepper also has macrobiotic properties that help to detoxify the entire body. Be careful when using Black Pepper oil as it can cause irritation in sensitve areas. Always do a small patch test when using something new.

A decongestant rub can be made with Menthol or Peppermint oil diluted in Olive oil. This can be applied liberally to the throat, neck and chest.

How To Treat Cold Sores

Lips that are just dry and sore can be treated by applying Aloe Vera gel directly throughout the day. The juices of the Aloe Vera plant soothe and repair damaged or irritated skin.

To treat a cold sore:

Make a lip salve by blending 10 drops of Tea Tree oil into 5 grams of Coconut oil. Store in a dark glass bottle and apply frequently.

Coconut is a rich moisturiser and Tea Tree will help treat the herpes virus that causes cold sores. Tea Tree oil can also be applied neat using a cotton bud 2-3 times daily at the first sign of a cold sore to prevent it erupting.

Tips To Fight a Cold

  • Runny noses, phlegmy coughs and sweating cause us to lose body fluids. The natural response is to make a hot drink, but as caffeine is dehydrating, regular tea and coffee will only worsen the problem. Herbal tea is a much better option as most teas are caffeine free and still allow you to enjoy a warm drink, but without the dehydrating side effects.
  • Drink plenty. It is particulary important to keep hydrated if you have a fever.
  • Fruit juices and soups will quench your thirst whilst supplying essential vitamins.
  • Rest. Studies have shown that sleeping increases immune functions. Skipping sleep will only prolong a cold. By sleeping, you are allowing your body to concentrate all it's resources on defeating the infection.
  • Wash your hands with Tea Tree soap. Germs can easily be picked up and transferred from communal telephones, computer keyboards and doorhandles.


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    • Ramzeed profile image


      8 years ago from Maryland

      The remedies that you provide are great! Im all about natural health and you are very educated on the subject. Thanks for the information.

    • moonbun profile imageAUTHOR

      Luna Fae 

      10 years ago from UK

      Thanks for the comments guys, hope that these natural remedies help with those colds!

    • nadeea profile image


      10 years ago

      Hatchi.. (ugh, i got a cold)

      Thanks for ur nice hub, very helpful ;)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      These are excellent natural remedies, a lot of them I wouldn't have thought of using for cold treatments!

    • LondonGirl profile image


      11 years ago from London

      great hub.

      Whenever I have a cold, I drink hot whisky, honey and lemon, and use ecucalytus and menthol oils.

    • moonbun profile imageAUTHOR

      Luna Fae 

      11 years ago from UK

      I agree Topstuff, though of course not for everyone, I think it's always good to have natural options.

      Thanks Rodney, I'll look out for your recipe.

      Thanks for the comments guys :)

    • Just_Rodney profile image

      Rodney Fagan 

      11 years ago from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City

      Great Hub, very informative, as always. I will have to post a cooking hub, good and tasty cure for colds and flu. This is one I was taught many years ago.

    • topstuff profile image


      11 years ago

      Herbal medicine has its own importance ,i firmly believe these herbal remedies often help a lot in treating some mild diseases.thanks


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