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4 Home Remedies to Knock Out a Cold

The following post is from Katie of Kitchen Stewardship: 4 Home Remedies to Knock Out a Cold


Feeling that tickle coming on in the back of your throat?

Besides the hundred other reasons that feeling sick usually frustrates me, I always get a bit overwhelmed and feel inadequate when considering the “treatments” for run-of-the-mill sick bugs.

I don’t really like taking medicine, over-the-counter or otherwise, because I don’t trust chemicals if I can help it. I get really nervous if anyone in our family is prescribed antibiotics because I know they’ll throw off our intestinal flora for quite some time and may contribute to overall antibiotic resistance in our world.

The alternative solutions kind of intimidates me, too. For a long time, I didn’t know where to buy fancy herbs or essential oils, and when a child (or self) is struck sick, that’s the last time I have the brainpower to try something totally new and rather daunting.

What if you could at least initiate a minor attack on germs using normal supplies you already have in your kitchen? Knowing these simple tricks makes me feel better in more ways than one.

Tackle a Sore Throat with Salt Water

source: hyku on Flickr

Gargling with salt water can bring instant and lasting relief to your scratchy, on-fire throat.

  • Get the concentration of salt as high as you can by using hot water and 1 tsp. Salt to a cup of water, even more, if you can make it dissolve.
  • Mix and gargle for a count of 20, then repeat a few times.
  • Spit out the saltwater.

No special equipment, ingredients, or fancy techniques. Just a salty taste in your mouth. Rinse it out and be glad you found something simple.

A few other additions to a gargle rinse include apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, honey, and mustard seed that my poor husband will be trying tomorrow. I still say simple is best, so I’m sticking with saltwater and maybe vinegar.

Stomp Out Colds Early with Cinnamon and Honey

source: Pink Stock Photos

Want your kids to take their medicine? Try this one and they’ll be begging for more. One of the best remedies for a cold.

I just read about using honey and cinnamon as a simple cold fighter at Health, Home and Happiness last week, although I’ve known about the health benefits of cinnamon and raw honey for quite some time:

  • Mix ¼ tsp. Cinnamon with 1 tsp. honey (preferably raw, local)
  • Eat up to twice a day.
  • We’ve mixed it into oatmeal, on fruit, and had it straight.
  • Start at the first sign of a cold. Yum!

Beat Ear Infections with Garlic Oil

source: Felipe Gabaldon

Last winter my son was prescribed antibiotics for an ear infection, and I was a mean mom and didn’t give them to him.

Just kidding. About the mean part.

Once we filled the prescription at the pharmacy, his pain was gone. I told myself we’d try a natural remedy, and if the pain came back, he could have the scrip. We never needed it.

  • Just crush a garlic clove or two into a few tablespoons of olive oil in a small pot.
  • Heat over low heat until warm, not bubbly.
  • Allow to cool slightly by putting some on a spoon – it will cool fast – and then drip some warm oil (no garlic chunks) into your child’s ear while they turn their head on its side.
  • Massage the glands below the ear near the jaw gently for a minute or so, then allow the child to tip the oil out into a cloth.

The warmth soothes the pain, and garlic is antibacterial and antiviral. (Here are some other ways to fight sick bugs with garlic.)

My pediatrician says that the garlic would never make it behind the eardrum where the infection is anyway. Still, she also was pretty clear that most ear infections clear up without antibiotics anyway (in children over 2), and some are viral and wouldn’t be touched by antibiotics anyway. I’ll still leave the garlic next time because it’s a well-known old remedy that makes the house smell delicious, like an Italian restaurant.

Loosen Congestion with Steam

Another great natural remedy for a cold. This one almost always helps when my little ones have a hacking cough and can’t sleep.

  • Turn the hot water on in the shower and allow the room to fill with steam.
  • Keep the child as close to the steam as possible (but not wet).
  • Lately, I’ve been using the sink (saving water) and tenting two bath towels over me and the child while we breathe the steam.
  • If you have mint leaves, throw them in too, but they usually fall under the “weird ingredients that I don’t have on hand” category for me.

Tip: Tape a piece of paper with ideas like this to the interior of a cupboard door in your kitchen or the inside of your linen closet door. Information at your fingertips!

Don’t forget to get enough sleep, drink your fluids when you’re feeling ill, and try to have homemade chicken stock in the freezer to help everyone in the family feel better and boost their immunities. Lots of water is a great remedy to knock out that cold in no time.

Download a symptom/medicine tracker.

What’s your first line of defense when you’re getting sick with a cold?

Disclaimer: I’m not a health professional, just a mom, and one who was raised on whiskey and honey cough syrup at that! You know that you must check with your doctor before believing anything I say.

Katie Kimball has been “green” since 5th grade when she read 50 Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. She remains slightly disappointed that she didn’t save the whole thing back then, but now that she has 3 kiddos counting on her, she hopefully keeps plugging away. Katie blogs at Kitchen Stewardship about real food and natural living and is the author of Healthy Snacks to Go and other eBooks, available for Kindle.