14 Best Home Remedies for Cold & Flu

A weak immune system communicates health through infections like colds. Cold is a highly infectious disease caused by viruses. It affects the nose, sinuses (hollow regions or spaces in the facial/skull region), throat, and bronchi. It is a self-limiting disease that would be gone naturally in 7-10 days.

As viral infection can not be treated with medicines all the time, especially with colds, it is best to manage colds by handling the symptoms instead of curing them. The most common cold symptoms are cough, sneezing, watery eyes, fatigue, headache, and body aches that make you feel miserable. It can, however, be managed.

Old and reliable home remedies are soothing and subtle. These are effective and mild to handle colds and aid in recovery. In this article, you can find some superfoods and practices to manage cold.

All the natural cold remedies mentioned here are trusted to help manage the symptoms; however, If you have any known allergies or questions on remedies like side effects or interaction possibilities, then consult a doctor before you start to use them. 

List of the Top 14 Home Remedies for Cold and Flu are;

  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Echinacea
  • Vitamin C
  • Honey
  • Probiotics
  • Salt Water Gargle
  • Elderberry
  • Eucalyptus
  • Warm Baths
  • Essential Oils
  • Topical Balms and Ointments

1) Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral for many enzymes to work inside the body and plays a crucial role in cold management. It has shown a remarkable reduction in the severity and duration of cold symptoms.

It is present naturally in lentils, fortified cereals, and meat. Incorporating these foods in your routine, like lentil soup, soups, or broth containing vegetables and cereals, will be beneficial.

Zinc lozenges are also present as OTC product, which can offer relief from the messy cold symptoms.

2) Vitamin D

The best sources of vitamin D are foods like milk and fatty foods like fatty fish. Supplements and sunshine are also critical to prevent symptoms of vitamin D deficiency for us.

Lower levels of vitamin D are directly linked to getting a cold infection. A warm glass of milk can help you feel better in the cold.

3) Ginger

Ginger has proven antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Cold can be managed by using ginger because of its soothing effect. It can relax and comfort a sore throat and also relieve symptoms like nausea.

Ginger tea, ginger ale, and incorporating ginger in soups can help you tackle symptoms like coughing and sneezing.

4) Garlic

Garlic is known to posses antimicrobial and antiviral properties. Apart from helping you in recovering from cold it is also found to have a precautionary role and protectant property against cold, cough and other respiratory symptoms.

Apart from cold, it has an antihypertensive effect too.

Garlic can be consumed in the form of soup, stew, juice of raw garlic, part of curries preparation, and otherwise just eating it raw.

Also Read: Benefits and Uses of Garlic

5) Echinacea

The entire plant of echinacea is beneficial. This plants is rich in flavonoids (chemicals which are useful for building immunity and fighting inflammation).

It is more effective as protecting you from cold than managing it after you are down with the cold. Be cautious of some side effects like nausea and vomiting when using echinacea.

6) Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and plays a key role in immunity-building. Vitamin C is a popular remedy for managing cold.

It can be consumed as a juice, lozenge or just mix lemon wedge with plain water and add little sugar and salt for a lemonade!

Also read: Benefits of Vitamin C for Your Skin

7) Honey

It is a home remedy for cold and coughs in many cultures. The recent research proves the positive effect of use of honey in the cold and cough treatment and other respiratory tract infections.

It has antioxidant and antibacterial effects too. Different types of honey like buckwheat honey is especially effective for anti-agening effect as it is rich in antioxidants.

Also read: Benefits of Honey and Lemon Infused Water


8) Probiotics

These are the useful, gut-friendly bacteria present in your body, as supplements and natural foods. It is the best way to improve immune system, reduce the chances of falling sick and getting a respiratory infection. Yoghurt is rich in probiotics and also provides calcium, and protein.

Also Read: Guide to a Probiotics and Prebiotics

9) Salt Water Gargle

Salt water gargling may help to prevent or provide symptomatic relief from upper respiratory tract problems. It may provide a soothing effect on sore throat and give relief from nasal congestions.

Salt water gargling can be done by;

  • Warm a glass full of water and add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water.
  • Take this warm water little by little in the mouth and gargle until it reaches or touches the throat. Repeat it until you finish the glass water.
  • Spit it out after a minute or two
  • This practice or gargling will provide relief from cold and cough symptoms.

10) Elderberry

Elderberry is a folkore medicine for cold, sinus, infections and flu. They contain the active compound called anthocyanins. Antocyanins have the ability to strengthen the immune system and prevention of flu virus to stick to the cells.

It is recommended to use only commercially available forms of elderberry berries. Be cautious to not use any other fresh parts of the elderberry plant as they are rich in poisonous substance- cyanide. It may lead to cyanide poisoning too.

Also Read: Elderberry Fruit Benefits and Side Effects

11) Eucalyptus

It has many health benefits including the eucalyptis oil- when used as inhaler by taking in the steam from hot water with eucalyptus oil. Inhalation relieves the congested nose , calms down the respiratory tract by thing the mucus and expelling out from throat.The possible side effects of eucalyptus oil are nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

12) Warm Baths

Warm baths are not only helpful in bringing down the temperature in fever in children but also help in relieving the cold symptoms.

13) Essential Oils

Apart from eucalyptus oil other essential oils which are found to be beneficial in reducing cold symptoms include;

  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
  • Tea tree
  • Frankincense

14) Topical Balms and Ointments

Ointments and balms containing, natural substances like eucalyptus oil, camphor, and other essential oils when rubbed on the skin in pain regions are helpful in easing cold symptoms. It can help in relieving congestion, cough and aids in good sleep.

These type of ointments are suitable for both adults and children. Read the label of the product properly and use it for the specific age group.

Final Thoughts

The efficiency of the natural remedies listed in the article is different for different people. The response to the natural remedies is variable and mixed as well. It is good to consult a herbalist or alternative medicine doctor when you want to use the remedies for longer durations or use it in a long run. Lastly the natural home remedies are beneficial and handy for many people, just pick your choice and use it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to get rid of cold?

There are both natural and medical remedies to get rid of cold. The above article enlists natural remedies for cold. Medical remedies are consumed mostly after doctor’s consultation some of the common medicines for cold when they are not controlled by the natural cold remedies are chlorphenamine, diphenhydramine, pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine. 

How to get rid of cold fast?

There is no quick way to get rid of the cold faster. But some remedies can help in lessening the duration of cold like taking good care of self, use of vitamins and supplements.

What are the home remedies for cold and sneezing?

Drinking plenty of fluids, blow your nose instead of taking it back into the body, stay warm and rest well; by giving rest to your body the energy is diverted for healing the cold process and being warm conserves energy.

How can you boost the immune system to stay away from cold infections?

Follow these tips to keep your immune system fit. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep gives the immune system a boost. Eat energy-rich and nutritious food, but should also be easy to digest. Exercise regularly to keep the body and immune system fit.