You’ve heard it before: There’s no cure for the common cold. And while that’s true, there are plenty of things that can make being sick with a cold more bearable. Drug store shelves are packed with medicines that—to varying degrees of effectiveness—relieve nasal congestion, soothe sore throats, quell coughs or make them more productive, and ease aching muscles. Some over-the-counter medications even promise to prevent the onset of a cold or shorten its duration.
Pharmaceutical companies don’t have a monopoly on comforting cold sufferers, though. Mother Nature has been doing it for much longer with a variety of herbs and other natural remedies. Here’s a look some preparations that will purportedly help you feel better fast:
1. For Immune Support
Echinacea, garlic, goldenseal, ginger, honey, and ginseng are all said to strengthen the immune system, providing much-needed support as your body does battle with the invading cold virus minions. Any fruit containing vitamin C, especially citrus and berries, can also help to support your immune system, potentially shortening the duration of a cold, or even preventing its onset. Take any of these — or a combination of several — at the first blush of cold symptoms, and you may dodge the bullet.
2. For Nasal Decongestants
If you do finally succumb to a cold, you’ll need something to help you breathe more easily. Nasal congestion — in the form of a stuffy, runny, itchy, sneezy nose, and swollen, painful sinuses — is the most common symptom of a cold. Eucalyptus, onions, cayenne, bromelain, and oregano are all said to be effective natural decongestants.
3. For Cough Expectorants
What’s worse than having a stuffy, runny nose? How about inflamed, itchy lungs? Peppermint, eucalyptus, licorice root, borage, yarrow, hyssop, cardamom, and anise can help to loosen things up in your lungs so you can get rid of the gunk.
4. To Get Sore Throat Relief
All of that coughing and post-nasal drip can leave your throat feeling raw. Slippery elm, yarrow, sage, honeysuckle flower, and marshmallow root are among the most traditional ways to soothe a sore throat. Or try these ideas!
5. For Muscle Aches
Finally, beyond the havoc that colds wreak on our respiratory systems, they can also knock us flat with exhaustion and achy muscles. Chamomile, catnip, valerian, licorice, white willow, kava root, and passiflora can all provide some relief there, and also promote relaxation.
And, really, when it comes to the common cold, getting plenty of rest is the best prescription.