What is the Common Cold?

The common cold is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system, particularly your nose and throat.  The common cold is just that, very common, and most people actually catch 2 to 4 colds per year.

Despite its prevalence, there is currently no cure for the common cold and although there are dozens of over the counter cold medications, none of these medications can defeat the common cold, only lessen its symptoms.  Right now, the only thing that can fight the common cold is our immune system which can be boosted and helped by various natural remedies.  Check out these great natural remedies that can help your immune system and relieve cold symptoms. Why take ineffective medications when you can treat the common cold naturally?

Signs & Symptoms of the Common Cold

Many know all too well the signs and symptoms of the common cold as most people get 2 to 4 colds per year.  As a refresher, the signs and symptoms of the common cold include:

  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough
  • Sore or itchy throat
  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Watery or itchy eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle Aches
  • Low grade (under 102 degrees) fever

Natural Remedies for the Common Cold

Vitamin C

As soon as cold and flu season is among us, many people start to load up on the Vitamin C in order to prevent getting a cold.  However, studies have shown there is no correlation between Vitamin C intake and preventing a cold.  Don't despair, there is evidence that Vitamin C may shorten how long you suffer from a cold.  If you take a "megadose" of Vitamin C on the first day of your cold, meaning at least 8 grams of Vitamin C (the average recommended daily allowance is 60 milligrams), it should shorten the duration of your cold.  Beware that extended consumption of high doses of Vitamin C (over 1,000 milligrams) can cause severe diarrhea, loose stools, and gas, so be sure to check with your doctor before loading up on Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is an effective natural remedy for treating the common cold because it increases the production of white blood cells, the part of your immune system that fights infection.  Vitamin C is also believed to prevent the multiplication of viruses, reduce mucus production, and reduce the inflammation of nasal passageways.

Vitamin C can be taken in pill form or derived from eating the following Vitamin C rich foods: oranges, cauliflower, lemons, broccoli, strawberries, cabbage, peaches, kiwi, tomatoes, and parsley.

Vitamin D

Higher levels of Vitamin D are believed to reduce the risk of catching the common cold.

Vitamin D can be obtained by supplements, sun exposure, dairy products (such as milk and cheese), fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel), and egg yolks.


In order to fight a cold, it is important to drink plenty of fluids to flush toxins out of your system. Hot tea is particularly effective in fighting a cold because it can help prevent drying of your throat and nose as well as loosen your nasal passages.

You can create a tea using other ingredients that have antiviral effects (such as elderberry, ginger root, yarrow root, mint, thyme, horsemint, bee balm, lemon blam, catnip, garlic, onions, lemon juice, or mustard) to increase the anti-cold benefits of drinking tea. Chamomile and green tea are also effective in treating colds due to their antioxidant benefits and ability to flush out toxins.


Garlic contains allicin, which is believed to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, and also believed to be effective in fighting the common cold and increase the production of white blood cells.  Garlic also contained antiseptic properties that may protect the immune system against the common cold. The oil in garlic is also effective in treating cold symptoms by opening up the respiratory passages.  Garlic can also help flush toxins out of your system and bring down a fever.

In order to maximize the effectiveness of garlic, it should be chopped or crushed and consumed raw.  One method to consume garlic to fight a cold is to boil three to six gloves of chopped garlic in a cup of water and drink the garlic water two to three times per day. Garlic can also be taken in pill form.

Be aware that garlic can have the following possible side effects: bad breath, body odor, dizziness, sweating, headache, fever, chills, runny nose, indigestion, increased bleeding/thin blood, lowered blood glucose levels, and increased insulin.


Studies have shown that Zinc can help fight a cold and limit the duration of the cold, especially if taken within 24 hours of the first cold symptoms.  Zinc is also believes to reduce the severity of cold symptoms.  Although studies have thus far been inconclusive, Zinc is believed to block the replication of the cold virus and impair the ability of the cold virus to enter the cells in the nose and the throat.

Zinc can be obtained through Zinc lozenges (although be warned that side effects of Zinc lozenges include nauseam unpleasant taste, and interference with absorption of mineral copper) and foods such as meat, liver, seafood, and eggs.


Ginger root is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat colds.  Ginger root is effective at fighting a cold when be eaten raw or used in a tea.

You can make ginger root tea by chopping ten grams of ginger into small pieces and boiling it in a cup of water.  You can also add honey and lemon to the tea to increase it's effectiveness and improve the taste.  Take the ginger tea at least two times per day to be the most effective.

Side effects resulting from excessive consumption of ginger root include heartburn and indigestion. High consumption of ginger root can cause blood thinning; therefore, those with bleeding disorder, gallstones, or who are taking blood thinning medications such as Coumadin should consult a doctor before taking ginger. Due to it's blood thinning qualities, avoid ginger two weeks before and after any surgeries.


Astragalus is a root that is used in traditional Chinese medicine to boost immunity and prevent colds and flu.  Astragalus root has been found to have antiviral properties and to stimulate the immune system.

You can find astragalus at health food stores in capsule form, as a tea, or in extract form or in Chinese herbal shop as a dried root.


Honey is a great source for many natural remedies, particularly because it has antibacterial properties, but it can also be used to fight viruses such as the common cold.  Honey can help soothe a sore throat, relieve a cough, and help those fighting a cold to sleep.

You can make a cough syrup using honey by mixing 1/4 Cup of honey with 1/4 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar.  Pour the mixture into a jar or bottle and shake well.  Take 1 Tablespoon every four hours.


Echinacea is a popular herbal remedy to treat the common cold. Echinacea effectively boosts the immune system by stimulating the overall activity of white blood cells. Echinacea is effective at fighting bacterial and viral infections.

It is recommended that at the first sign of cold symptoms, Echinacea be taken every two to three hours with a total daily dose of three or more grams per day.  After several days, the dosage should be reduced.

If you have a sore throat, you can gargle Echinacea tincture or juice mixed with water.  This will reduce throat paid due to Echinacea's anesthetic effect.

Chili Pepper

Chili peppers are effective at treating a runny or stuffy nose.  Capsaicin, a component in chili peppers, is known to thin mucus and help get rid of germs in the nasal passages.  In order to get the benefits of capsaicin, you can eat a chili pepper with a meal, gargle hot water with chili pepper, or even just smell a chili pepper.


Cinnamon can help to ease the pain of a dry or sore throat commonly associated with colds.  Cinnamon also has effective healing properties.

To take cinnamon to treat a cold, boil one teaspoon of powdered cinnamon in a glass of water mixed with pepper powder and honey. You can also add two to three drops of cinnamon oil to your food.


Elderberry is an herbal remedy to treat colds, sinus infections, and the flu. It is believed to have antiviral properties. Anthocyanins found in elderberry are believed to strengthen the immune system and block the flu virus from attaching to human cells.

You can find elderberry in health food stores in juice form, as a syrup, or in capsules. Only use elderberry products that are commercially prepared because certain forms of elderberry may result in cyanide poisoning.

Potential, although rare, side effects of elderberry include mild indigestion and allergic reactions.


A steam inhalation of eucalyptus oil will help with the symptoms of colds and flu by thinning mucus and loosening phlegm.  Eucalyptus oil is also a great pain reliever and can be used as a bath oil to relieved body aches associated with the cold or flu.

Sesame Oil

Dry nasal passages creates a prime breeding ground for the cold virus. It is recommended to use saline drops to moisten the nasal passages, but sesame oil has been found to be more effective. Rub sesame oil inside your nostrils in order to prevent cold infections and reduce the length of a cold.

Chicken Soup

The most common cold remedy was saved for last--chicken soup. People have been treating colds and flus with chicken soup for years without realizing that there are specific properties in chicken soup that are effective in fighting colds. First, chicken soup is filled with nutrients and vitamins which are essential for fighting the cold. Second, hot fluids loosen mucus and help your body fight viral infections. Further, chicken soup contains cysteins which thin mucus. Finally, chicken soup is believes to have anti-inflammatory properties which soothe sore throats and other cold symptoms.