A Guide to Natural Cold Remedies
Home Remedies for Cold and Cough
As cold and flu season comes upon us, more and more people are looking for natural cold and flu remedies. My family has used and benefited from these home remedies for cold and cough for many years.
The old timers didn’t run to the doctor for every little thing as most Americans do today. So what did they do? Some of the very things people who are using holistic healthcare methods are doing today.
The first line of defense for preventing colds, flu, and sore throats is thorough hand washing. Just as important is the cleaning of our home. Still, there are just some “bugs” that get through.
Here in the U.S., we are seeing an epidemic of weakened immune systems and the many diseases this brings to our bodies. This plays a major role in the winter sickness we experience. There are some other contributing factors as well.
- The amount of sugar in our diets. Grains that convert to sugar also contribute to this.
- Not getting enough rest. 7-8 hours a night is the minimum, but not more than 9. There are people who say they don’t need this much sleep, but over time, their body will suffer.
- Stress – It’s a killer. In our modern society driven by stress, you can’t avoid it altogether. Do all you can to eliminate as much stress as possible from your life.
- Lack of or not enough exercise – Stretching and walking are my exercises of choice.
- Vitamin D deficiency – 15 to 20 minutes of direct sunshine a day will supply your Vitamin D. Winter makes it more difficult to get an adequate amount of sunshine. You can help your body by eating foods high in Vitamin D. My favorites are salmon, sunflower seeds (we grow ourselves), and eggs (from our backyard chickens). Be sure that your fish is wild caught to cut down on the number of toxins it contains.
Natural cold remedies come in many forms. Herbs and essential oils play a major role in home remedies for cold and cough and home remedies for sore throat. Lately, I’ve been studying basil health benefits. It’s an easy to grow herb. I’m learning to add it to my healing herbs list for use in our home.
This is the first thing we do when we feel “something” coming. We peroxide our ears. We use a dropper to fill the ear canal. Let it bubble until the bubbling action subsides – everyone is different, but it usually takes 3-5 minutes per ear. When the bubbling dies down, turn your head over onto a towel allowing your ear to drain. You can treat the opposite ear while the first one is draining. After both ears have drained, gently use a cotton swab to remove any excess. Be careful not to go into the ear canal.
My family has done this since I was a little girl. We won’t talk about how long ago that was! It has proven effective. My oldest son doesn’t like the bubbling, but when he feels bad enough he’ll do this. He always says he wishes he had done it sooner because he feels better afterward. If we’re very sick, we do it once a day for the first three days of the onset.
In 1928, Dr. Richard Simmons, M.D., stated his belief that colds and flu viruses enter the body through the ear canal, as opposed to the nose and throat as most people believe. Of course, his findings were dismissed by the medical community. Then in 1938, German researchers had great success using hydrogen peroxide as a treatment for colds and the flu. Since their data has been ignored for over 60 years it is almost impossible to find.
Flu and Cold Tea
A tea made with organic echinacea and roots tea; 3-4 slices of fresh ginger root; the juice of one lemon or 1 tsp raw organic apple cider vinegar; 3-5 teaspoons of raw honey, adjust according to your taste (I prefer less); 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; and 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, adjust according to taste (again, I prefer less) is great for flu and colds and one of the best home remedies; sore throat included.
Prepare your echinacea and roots tea. This is the base I use. Some people make “tea” without using this. I use it because of the proven benefits of echinacea. Add the ginger root to the simmering tea for the last 10 minutes of simmering. If I don’t have fresh ginger root, I use ginger I’ve dehydrated for this and many other uses.
After the simmering is complete, pour your tea through a strainer into a large mug. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir well and sip to your health!
Raw honey is excellent for any respiratory illness. It has been proven over the centuries to help allergies, sinus, bronchitis, coughing and more. When cinnamon is added to raw honey, the result is the perfect anti-inflammatory treatment. This strengthens your immune system. It’s excellent at calming coughs, treating bronchitis and soothing sore throats.
Mix 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in 1/2 cup of honey, adjusting the cinnamon to taste. Take by the teaspoonful as needed, 4-6 times a day. You want to be sure not to use honey on anyone under 1 year of age.
Essential Oil Inhalation
Rosemary, peppermint, tea tree, and eucalyptus essential oils are proven to soothe the bronchial tubes. This relieves congestion and coughs from colds, flu, and bronchitis. They also open clogged sinuses causing them to drain. Soothing of aches is another benefit of these oils when used in natural cold remedies.
Each of these oils has anti-bacterial properties. Eucalyptus has anti-viral properties, especially when inhaled. Using these oils as natural cold remedies and for the symptoms is easy.
Boil at least 2 cups of water. You can leave it in the pot or pour it into a ceramic bowl. Add 3-4 drops of each oil to the water. Use a towel as a drape to make a “tent” over the steaming mixture. Place your head under the tent. Breath deeply.
Be aware that you may experience a burning sensation in your sinuses the first few deep breaths. This is the result of the oils coming in contact with the mucous membranes and doing their job. I just raise the towel to take a “break” and then quickly replace it.
This old-timey trick was used especially for young ones with croup. Often times the herbs were added directly to the boiling water since the oils weren’t as readily available. The steam has a beneficial effect all its own.
You can adjust the drops to suit your needs, but be careful that you don’t add too many drops as the peppermint will burn your eyes and nose if it is too strong. Some people put these into a humidifier, I have not done this so I can’t say how well it works.
A little trick my grandmother taught me is to keep a handkerchief with me. She taught me to put a few drops of these three oils on it whenever I am sick or am around sick people. Breathing deeply into the handkerchief clears sinuses and calms the bronchial tubes. If I’m around sick people, I use it to help keep the germs away. You may think I’m silly, but I’m seldom sick.
I can remember having this rubbed on my feet when I was sick as a child. After they rubbed it in, they would put a clean pair of socks on me. This is one of my favorite natural cold remedies. It works well for coughs, congestion, and fever.
My grandmother would also rub it on our chest and neck then place a piece of cloth over it. It works well as a home remedy for sore throat. I still do this today whenever I feel a little something coming on.
Since we don’t use petroleum-based products in our home anymore, I had to find a natural alternative. Now, we make our own. It’s easy and just as effective. 1/2 cup organic coconut oil, 2 Tablespoons of beeswax pastilles, 20 drops of eucalyptus oil, 15 drops of peppermint oil, 10 drops of rosemary oil, and 10 drops of lavender oil, 5 drops of tea tree oil (optional). The lavender oil isn’t necessary, but I like its soothing effect. My husband doesn’t care too much for tea tree oil, so I don’t always use it.
To mix it up, put the coconut oil and beeswax pastilles into a medium size jar. Place this jar into a pot of water and turn on medium heat until they are both melted. A double boiler works well for this. I don’t have one so this is the method I use.
Once it’s melted, add the essential oils and stir well. Remove the jar from the pot. At this point, you can decide to leave the mixture in this jar, or pour it into a smaller one. Another option is to pour it into a metal mixing bowl for whipping. Whipping doesn’t affect anything other than the texture, but I like the whipped texture.
Let it sit until it cools down and firms up. I put mine in my mixing bowl and place it in the refrigerator for this to happen more quickly. When it’s set, use the whisk attachment of your mixer to whip it up. Then put it back into the jar and there you go.
You can adjust this recipe to get the potency, smell, and texture you like. More beeswax will make it firmer. If you want to use it for a small child, use about half the amount of essential oils. Remember to not keep it near a heat source since it melts easily. It’s important to note you should always dilute essential oils with a carrier before putting them on your skin. The coconut oil and beeswax fit that bill in this recipe.
Turmeric Milk or “Golden Milk”
The health benefits of turmeric are being touted everywhere. It’s new to us, but not new as a medicinal herb. It has been used for millennia in other parts of the world.
Turmeric Milk is made with 2 cups milk, 1 teaspoon dried turmeric (or one-half inch thinly sliced or diced fresh turmeric) 1 teaspoon dried ginger (or one-half inch fresh ginger), a sprinkle of cayenne or black pepper and honey to suit your taste. Adding ginger is essential for its health benefits and to aid in masking the bitter taste of turmeric.
In a saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat. Add the turmeric, ginger, and pepper. If you’re using dried herbs and spices, be sure to stir them well.
Bring the milk to a low simmer. Keep the milk stirred to prevent scorching. Continue to simmer for another 2 minutes. Be careful to keep stirring so the milk won’t scald. Remove from heat and cover.
Let the milk sit for about 10 minutes to allow a good infusion of the ingredients. If you used fresh turmeric and/or ginger, strain the milk through a strainer into your cup. Serve warm.
If you don’t let it simmer long enough, you may find your turmeric milk has a bitter taste. I use organic turmeric powder because I find the powder is less bitter.
Hot Toddy (Hot whiskey as they say in Ireland, my ancestral home.)
Many people don’t like this one. When I was a little girl, my grandmother had an unmarked brown bottle on the top shelf in her bathroom. The peppermint stick in it was visible to us, but we knew better than to touch it. When I was grown, I realized it was a bottle of whiskey with a peppermint stick steeping in it.
It doesn’t happen that I’m this sick often, but when it does, I don’t mind taking a shot of hot toddy. We don’t keep a bottle steeping all the time as the old-timers did. I heat 1-2 ounces of scotch in a pot with 1 ounce of water. When it’s just about to boil, I turn off the heat and add a couple of drops of peppermint oil, a teaspoon or two of honey, and sometimes a dash of cinnamon. What I add just depends on how I feel. Let it all sit for about 10 minutes; drink it warm and sleep.
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list. This is a list of what we use and so I know they are effective. There are several more we could talk about: ear candles for earaches, baking soda and honey as a home remedy for sore throat and the fabulous elderberry to name just a few.
In our day and age, I have to say that none of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA. I’m not a doctor so I’m not offering medical advice, or prescribing these things for you. There now, we’ve covered that.
I am a mom, retired nurse, wife and human being. I’ve used these for a lifetime and know they work.
Someone will say, “These aren’t true remedies! There is no remedy. You’re just treating the symptoms.” Well, I can see your point. Treating the symptoms with these natural cold remedies allows the body to rest, have what it needs to heal and be a little more at ease. In reality, that’s all that modern medicine does anyway, treat the symptoms. I just choose to do it without the harmful side effects.
What I really hope is that you don’t have to use any of these this year. I hope you and your family have a healthy cold and flu-free season. However, it’s always good to be prepared.
Share your family’s home remedies for colds and coughs in the comments below. I enjoy hearing from you. You can always reach me personally by using the Contact Me page.
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Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack