9 Natural Cold Remedies that Really Work

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It’s that time of year and the “cold” is definitely in the air. Frigid air abounds and cold germs patiently await. The cold and flu season comes around every year. Everyone hates it. But for some reason it returns year after year. Despite having a clinically trained background, I usually reach for natural cold remedies before I forge through the traditional route.

Blame it on my Caribbean ancestry. Blame it on a “stubborn” gene. It remains true though, that traditional and homeopathic methods can have quite a symbiotic relationship.  You don’t always have to pick one over the other. Want to kick the cold to the curb naturally? Here are nine natural cold remedies that really work.

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Pregnant, nursing mothers, young children and people on other prescription medications are ideal candidates for natural or non-drug cold remedies. But, we can all benefit from learning more about what nature has to offer.

Here are some tried and true natural cold remedies that really work.

Vicks Vapor Rub

I have many memories of my mom “rubbing me down” with Vicks Vapor Rub when I was a little kid. To be honest with you. I hated it. It smelt icky. It felt greasy. But, it always worked to help clear up my congestion. These days, Vicks has a greaseless cream formula and the menthol in those varieties is not as overpowering. But purists will advise that the original Vicks Vapor Rub still has a place.  I secretly laughed to myself when my daughter exclaimed recently as I was applying some Vicks on her chest, “Only a little bit mama…it smells nasty!” What a full circle moment!

Shiling Oil

Shiling oil actually has many uses. Some of which coincide with those of Vicks Vapor Rub. As far as the cold and flu goes, use shiling oil  for congestion and body aches that can come with the flu. Just rub it in. You can get it at Amazon.com but, if I am ever running low I always get one of my Caribbean peeps to bring me a few bottles. I don’t know why. Maybe, it just feels a little bit more authentic to me that way.

*Do not use if pregnant or nursing. 

Honey and Lime/Lemon

Mix a couple tablespoons of honey with a few squeezes of lemon in about a 1:1 ratio, and you have a powerful elixir. The honey acts as a natural soother for itchy throats and even has an ingredient that helps to calm coughs, medicine free! Since there is not much out there to treat little ones under age six, this is a great alternative. Just remember, that honey should not be ingested by children under 1. As far as the lemon in this elixir goes…it’s a great boost of vitamin C. I will continue to increase my vitamin C uptake every time the cold lures it’s ugly head.


Humidifiers are great devices to use during the cold and flu season whether you have a cold or not. Ever wonder why you may be more prone to cold germs on an air plane? Not only do you have the privilege of being in a crammed space, sharing the same recycled air with hundreds of strangers but, studies have shown that people with dry nostrils are more prone to colds and other germy invaders. And the air in planes is quite dry.

If you already have a cold, using a humidifier is a great way add moisture and help ease congestion. Some vaporizers have the added option of being able to add menthol or essentials oil to the steam for dual benefit.

But, just don’t go blindly adding oils though, check the instructions first. I love using these therapeutic grade essential oils as an added benefit.

Nasal Saline

Nasal saline works like a charm in helping to relieve nasal congestion. From little noses to big honkers, the premise is the same. Nasal saline goes in…yucky mucous comes out. It is simple osmosis really… but, it works like a charm.

Nasal Irrigation

Nasal irrigation as seen in the Neti Pot as been praised for years for ailments like allergies and colds. The benefits of nasal irrigation don’t stop there. Use it to thin out mucous and relieve sinus pressure that can occur during the common cold.

Zinc Products

Zinc has been shown to limit the duration and severity of the common cold. Take it as soon as the first symptoms appear for optimal results.

Here are the zinc capsules I’m using right now

Warm Saline Gargle

Every time I had a sore throat growing up, my mom would send me to the kitchen for a few things: a cup of warm water, a spoon and some salt. To relieve discomfort from sore and itchy throats, place about 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle. That’s it! The warm water should be as warm as you can tolerate. For optimal results, gargle about every 2 hours. It’s tedious…I know. But it works!

Breathe Right Strips

Obviously this natural cold remedy is not as old as the others on the list. Regardless of it’s inception, nasal strips can provide drug free relieve to stuffy noses everywhere! Just be sure to get the right size for your nose.

There are lots more natural remedies that alleviate symptoms of the common cold. They involve everything from garlic to cayenne pepper, from coconut oil to hydrogen peroxide… Many have been passed from generation to generation, from continents to islands, from playgrounds to play dates and everywhere in between. For some people, natural cold remedies are more than a “passing fad”, they are tradition. But at the end of the day, when nostrils are clogged,  throats burn and a persistent cough make it feel like your head will explode…you just want to know… “Do natural cold remedies work?” And the answer is “yes” these do.

Q & A

How to Use Shiling Oil for Cold?

There are a few different ways to use shiling oil for a cold. This is one of the most popular ways. Put a few drops of shiling oil into a bowl of sinkful of very warm water. Put your head over the bowl, cover your head with a towel and inhale deeply.

This will help loosen the mucus and allow your to breathe more freely. The shiling oil also works to help decrease inflammation in the nasal passages. This makes it easier to breathe. Just be sure not to use the shilling oil internally. It’s for external use only.

What humidifier do you recommend for cold and flu?

While there are lots of humidifiers out there, this is the one that I am currently using and have had success with.

I’ve heard of fermented garlic honey, how do I make it? Does it really work?

I thought you’d never ask. Fermented garlic honey is a natural immune booster and is really beneficial when you’re battling a cold or flu. The reports have been amazing and I love how people have benefited from taking this homeopathic remedy.

I highly recommend that you make it before you need it, especially during the winter months. The reason is, it takes a month for the garlic honey to fully ferment and if you need some, you’ll want to have it right away.

My recommendation is to always have two batches of it going at the same time, that are two weeks apart. If you’d like to try your hand at making fermented garlic honey, here’s my recipe below for you to try.

>>>Fermented Garlic Honey <<<

So, what natural cold remedies have you tried? Which ones are your favorite?

Natural cold remedies that really work
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Original: September 25, 2018

Updated: 1/25/2020, 12/3/2022

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  • Comments ( 6 )

  • avatar

    I just made elderberry syrup tonight as I’m fighting something. I also like to immune building essential oils, homemade stock and fermented foods.

    • avatar

      That’s quite a diverse grouping. I’ve never used the elderberry syrup before. You have piqued my interest.

  • avatar
    Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections

    I agree that most of these things really do work! I use Vicks and a saline rinse, which is the best invention ever! I have a cold right now. Hope it passes quickly!

    • avatar

      I am just getting over mine Melissa. I hope that you feel better soon.

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