Hot ginger tea and steam inhalations are some of the easiest home remedies for colds. Adding essential oils to a steam inhalation can make it more efficient for relieving a stuffy nose or a sore throat.
Natural Remedies for Cold
A steam inhalation is an easy and effective way to clear a stuffy nose during a cold. Simply boil some water and pour it into a large bowl, add a few drops of essential oils and inhale the hot steam for up to ten minutes. Repeat several times a day until the symptoms disappear. The hot steam helps to open up the nasal passages, to fight bacteria and viruses, and to prevent any further complications such as sinus infections. If your sinuses are already infected, steam inhalations can help to relieve the pain and to speed up healing.
Good essential oils to use in steam inhalations during a cold or a sinus infection are eucalyptus, lavender, pine and tea tree. Eucalyptus is a traditional home remedy for colds as it is antibacterial, antiviral and decongestant. Tea tree is one of the most effective antiviral and antibacterial oils you can find, lavender is especially good for evening use as it can help to sleep better, and pine is a decongestant, antibacterial and refreshing oil for inhalations. Steam inhalations also help to heal and relieve a cough.
Sore Throat Home Remedies
A cold often causes a sore throat as well as nasal congestion. The same steam inhalations that relieve a stuffy nose also help with a sore throat. Essential oils that are especially good for throat infections include lavender, benzoin and thyme. Drinking plenty of hot drinks is helpful too, and one of the best home remedies for sore throat is ginger and honey tea.
For a homemade ginger tea, use a small piece of fresh ginger root (about the size of the tip of your finger) cut into thin slice for each cup and pour boiling water over the slices. Leave the tea to infuse for at least five minutes and add a teaspoon of honey. Ginger is a warming spice and is used widely in Traditional Chinese Medicine and India's Ayurvedic medicine. Honey can help to soothe an irritated throat. You can also add the juice of half a lemon for flavor and for its antiseptic effect. Many herb teas can also help with an irritated throat. These include red sage (not to be used during pregnancy), peppermint and chamomile.
It is also a good idea to burn eucalyptus, tea tree, pine or lavender essential oil in an essential oil burner. These antibacterial and antiviral oils may even help to stop the cold virus from spreading.
Patricia Davis: Aromatherapy: an A to Z (Random House, UK, 2004)