Natural Remedies for the Common Cold

No cure for the common cold? Maybe not. But there are things you can do to feel less miserable. These herbs will have you feeling better in no time!

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.

Make your own cough drops!

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.

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Farmers' Almanac - Itch
Jaime McLeod

Jaime McLeod is a longtime journalist who has written for a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites, including She enjoys the outdoors, growing and eating organic food, and is interested in all aspects of natural wellness.

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D. Smith

David, the only thing I know of that can help asthma is raw milk. If you live in an area where you can legally buy raw milk, consider yourself lucky because there are few places left. If you want more info on the asthma and raw milk (I never call anything a “cure” because there is no such thing) you can go to the web site of Mark McAfee who runs Organic Pastures out in CA (somewhere near Fresno, I think) and I think there’s some information on his web site about using raw milk and the successes they’ve had with it. It’s a great thing to use for children with asthma – – much safer than using prescription drugs, which are a disservice to mankind if you ask me, because they cover up symptoms they don’t actually treat the disease.


Is there an herb that will help ringing in ears?

Susan Higgins

Hi Sylvia, we found this information on Dr. Weil’s site. We hope it’s helpful:


I no longer have a thyroid. It was surgically removed due to having a goiter.
Is there a natural herb I can take in place of the man made synthroid.
Thanks for all the other info regarding the herbs

Michelle Tremblay

Organic apple cider vinegar cures sore throats and takes the pain out of a sunburn, plus, prevents you from peeling.

Margaret. Jaeger

There should also be a note of caution before using herbs of any kind. If you’re taking any kind of pharmaceutical prescription, from necessity, you must know if there will be an interaction between the prescribed chemical and herbals and naturals used. Recently, I’ve had to take 2 different medical prescriptions because there was no way around it. Dr. Took me off a program of supplements I’d been on for several years because something was interfering with a necessary med. I didn’t want to do it but there was no way around it. Even my integrative M.D. Didn’t fight it. But the other Dr. knew very little about reactions or interactions of herbs and supplements with chemical meds so it was best to stop everything …at least for a time to see if my adverse reactions stopped. Then this Dr. ‘allowed’ some supps, gave me a list but most of these are chemical form. Some I didn’t tolerate in that form. So now I want to start over again as I believe these herbs and supps are vital to my recovery. However, don’t want to mess it up with cross reactions. Do be sure to do research or get an alternative health care pro to sort out these things before taking Any of them. Thanks for this list tho, I’m keeping it.


Most of these herbs are not in the average home pantry, an easy and effective tea is one teaspoon of dried thyme ( the same stuff you cook with) steeped in 8 – 12 oz boiling water, strain . sometimes I add lemon or lime juice my grandson likes orange juice we sweeten with honey if we have it sugar if we don’t

Jeff Kendrick

In what form do you use herbs, etc., as a nasal decongestant and for lung congestion? Thanks.

Jaime McLeod

Jeff, as noted in a response to a commenter below, “There are many ways to use herbs. You could cook them into your food, make a tea from them, make a tincture, buy a supplement, eat them fresh … It really depends on the herb, its seasonal availability, and your own personal preferences.”


Thank you Jamie, I do use crushed oatmeal and aloe for itch but the thing is that it doesn’t itch much…it’s the pain that really bothers me. It feels like a paper cut and carpet burn all combined and I thought there might be some herb that would help diminish some of that pain. It’s on the sole of my feet.

Jaime McLeod

RD – We haven’t written about this before, so I had to do some research. Herbs recommended for topical pain relief include cayenne, burdock, aloe vera, and arnica. If you want to make your own, you could start with the meat from an aloe plant, then make a paste of it with some cayenne powder or crushed arnica. They do sell commercial arnica gel, often with an aloe vera base. Many people find it can numb sunburns and other painful skin issues. I would start there.


Is there an herb that would help relieve the pain of psoriasis?

Jaime McLeod

rd-morin, Check out this article on herbs for itching: Natural Itch Relief


i would like to know if there is a cure for asthma.

Jaime McLeod

David, There is no “cure” for asthma, but there are natural remedies that can help to open one’s airways. None of these should be used in place of treatment by a doctor or a rescue inhaler, but they may be able to reduce the number of attacks and make day-to-day breathing a little easier. They include: coffee, onions, chili peppers, orange juice, peppermint, ginger, and tumeric. Limiting salt and dairy and eating enough Omega 3 fatty acids (from fish, avocados, nuts, flax seeds, olive oil …) is also a good idea. Regular exercise is probably the best remedy for preventing asthma attacks.


My question to this article is: how, in what form, do I use the different herbs and natural remedies?

Jaime McLeod

There are many ways to use herbs. You could cook them into your food, make a tea from them, make a tincture, buy a supplement, eat them fresh … It really depends on the herb, its seasonal availability, and your own personal preferences.


I enjoy theFarmers Almanac.I alway’s buy a almanac,every year. I collect recipes to.

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