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Favorite Home Remedies for Colds

With the hustle, bustle and extra socializing that comes with the holiday season, comes more stress, fatigue, poor diet choices and exposure to the cold virus. Unfortunately there is no vaccine or cure for the cold, but you can stay healthier by getting plenty of rest, hydration, exercise and good nutrition. If the cold virus does hit-or if you feel it coming on-talk to your doctor about trying one or more of these home remedies to ease symptoms and maybe even shorten the duration of your cold.


A 2013 Cochrane review1 showed that a dose of more than 75 mg per day of Zinc taken within the first 24 hours of a cold decreased the duration of the cold. The reviewers recommended that Zinc be taken throughout the duration of the cold.  Just be sure to stick with the lozenges, as the FDA has warned that the nasal spray can cause loss of smelling.2

Essential oils

Essential oils can be blended or used separately to help relieve cold symptoms such as congestion. They can be used as aromatherapy, as a hot or cold compress, mixed with a carrier oil and massaged onto the skin, ingested as a capsule or diffused through the air. As a bonus, some oils promote sleep and combat anxiety so you can feel your best while battling your cold. Below are just a few suggestions, but for a more comprehensive list, see 20 of the Best Essential Oils For Colds and Relieving the opens in a new window

  • Elderberry: Elderberry shrubs produce elderberries, which have been used for food and medicine for thousands of years. More recently, a few studies have suggested that this fruit may have an anti-viral effect and improve the body’s immune response.3-5 Elderberry supplements can be found in gummies, syrups and lozenges.
  • Oregano oil: Oregano oil is an herbal supplement containing the compounds carvacrol, thymol and terpinene which are associated with healing6,7. Traditionally this supplement has been used for respiratory illness, but is more recently being used to treat the cold and flu virus. You’ll find oregano oil in a capsule form or as an essential oil that can be added to vaporizers or steam baths.
  • Thieves oil: Thieves oil is a blend of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils and has a very interesting story behind its namelink opens in a new window.  It was shown to kill 99% of airborne bacteria in a study done by Weber State University.8 It’s widely available in many different forms, and can be inhaled, applied topically with a carrier oil or ingested as a capsule.

Sinus rinse

Rinsing sinuses with saline solution, known as nasal irrigation, is a practice that originates from the Ayurvedic medical tradition used to care for the upper respiratory tract.  Like many non-traditional cold treatments, little scientific evidence exists to prove whether or not it actually works to diminish cold symptoms-or to prevent colds in the first place-but anectdotal evidence suggests it helps people deal with the stuffiness and post-nasal drip that comes with having a bad cold.9

Hot tea

Having a cold and drinking hot tea just seem to go together.  Herbal tea that is beneficial for colds are typically packaged as such in your grocery store. Look for blends containing chamomile, ginger, clove, peppermint and yarrow.  Adding honey will not only sweeten your drink but will also sooth your throat.


Disclaimer: This blog is for entertainment purposes only. Remember, supplements and herbs aren’t closely monitored by the FDA, and there may be issues regarding such attributes as purity, contamination, quality, and strength. Research the brand and be an informed consumer. Always talk to your doctor before undergoing any treatment or taking any new herb, supplement or medication.”


1 Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 6. Art. No.:CD001364. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.DC001364.pub4
2 Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from opens in a new window
3 Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, et al. Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus Nigra L.) during an outbreak of Influenza B Panama. J Altern Complement Med. 1995;1(4):361–9. 
4 Zakay-Rones Z, Thom E, Wollan T, Wadstein J. Randomized study of the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry extract in the treatment of Influenza A and B virus infections.” J Int Med Res. 2004;32(2):132-40. 
5 S. Kannan, P. Kolandaivel. (2017) The inhibitory performance of flavonoid cyanidin-3-sambubiocide against H274Y mutation in H1N1 influenza virusJournal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics0:0, pages 1-15. 
6 Antonia Nostro, Andrea Sudano Roccaro,2 Giuseppe Bisignano, Andreana Marino, Maria A. Cannatelli,1 Francesco C. Pizzimenti, Pier Luigi Cioni, Francesca Procopio and Anna Rita Blanco Effects of oregano, carvacrol and thymol on Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis biofilms. (2007). Journal of Medical Microbiology,56, 519-523.
7 Han F, Ma GQ, Yang M, et al. Chemical composition and antioxidant activities of essential oils from different parts of the oregano. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2017;18(1):79-84.
8 Chao, SC, Young, DG, Oberg, CJ Effect of a diffused essential oil blend on bacterial bioaerosols.  Journal of Essential Oil Research. Vol 10, no. 5, pp 517-523. Sep-Oct 1998
9 Principi N, Esposito S. Nasal Irrigation: An Imprecisely Defined Medical Procedure. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(5):516. Published 2017 May 11. doi:10.3390/ijerph14050516