When you have a cold, you feel tired and have absolutely no energy to do anything. Your throat feels tickly, your nose is congested, sometimes you feel hot and flushed; at other times you feel cold and shivery. It can be very annoying to experience all these symptoms of a cold which get in the way of your everyday life. Getting rid of a cold is also quite difficult since most doctors only prescribe fever reducing pills or, at the most, bed rest. So, in this article, we are going to discuss 18 natural ways to help you get rid of a cold fast. All these time-tested remedies work effectively and quickly so you are sure to feel better in a couple of days.
What is a cold? How does it develop?
Everyone gets a cold once in a while. Children tend to get as many as 6-8 colds in a year on account of weaker immune systems. We catch a cold from tiny germs called microbes which we pick up from contaminated surfaces such as door knobs, or even by shaking hands with infected people. Cold is a contagious disease which can spread from person to person. Coughing and sneezing tends to spread cold bacteria and viruses around as a result of which this illness passes around rather quickly. Cold viruses also spread through phlegm, saliva and nasal discharge. If you touch your face, eyes or mouth with infected hands, then these germs enter your system through these openings. The two main types of microbes that cause the common cold include Influenza A and Influenza B. Our bodies have the inherent ability to fight off most germs; however, in some cases, it is unable to fight the infection which gives rise to cold. As a result, we start experiencing following symptoms of common cold:
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- General malaise
- Muscle ache
Occasionally, common cold can turn complicated and develop into a bacterial infection such as ear infections, pneumonia or strep throat, caused by Streptococcus bacteria. These infections need to be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms of a common cold can arise 12-72 hours after one has been exposed to the bacteria. Influenza or flu symptoms occur one to three days after exposure.
Who can get a cold?
Almost everyone can be affected by cold. However, people with weaker immune system are more likely to be infected. School age children are also more likely to develop colds since they come in close contact with other infected children. Elderly people with weaker immunity can also get as many as 3-4 colds per year.
Conventional treatment for cold
Most health care providers typically recommend plenty of fluids and bed rest to get rid of a cold. You may also be given medication to relive body ache and fever. In few cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to get rid of sinusitis or ear infections.
Let us now discuss some home remedies and natural ways to get rid of cold quickly.
18 Natural ways to get rid of cold fast
1. Increase your Vitamin C intake
Our body can store up to 1500 mg of vitamin C at a time. However, this vitamin gets used up during the time of illness and stress. So, you must increase your Vitamin C intake when you catch a cold. Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that boosts immunity and fights free radical damage caused by toxins and pollutants. Regular intake of vitamin C can help fight common cold, flu and other chronic infections. Research has shown time and again that a high dose of up to 2000 mg of vitamin C per day can fight bronchitis. At the first sign of illness, take a Vitamin C supplement and continue taking it for a few days despite feeling better. If you develop diarrhea, cut back on the dose and take up to 1000 mg per day until you feel better.
2. Drink lemon juice
Lemon juice is one of the best natural remedies to beat common cold. Packed with tons of Vitamin C, lemon or lime juice can help you cure a cold quickly.
- At the first sign of cold, squeeze an entire lemon in a glass of warm water and add some honey to it for flavor. Drink this ‘tea’ at least 6 times a day until you feel better. Lemon juice decreases the toxicity in the body and equips the immune system to fight the bacteria and viruses. This helps reduce the duration of the cold so you feel better quickly.
- You can also use roasted lemons to cure a cold overnight. Simply roast 2-3 lemons in a hot oven for as long as it takes to crack their peels. Once the peels crack, extract the juice and sweeten it with some honey. Drink a teaspoon of this before meals and again before bedtime to cure cold and cough quickly. For very severe colds, take the sweetened lemon juice 3 times a day.
- For chills and fever, slice half a dozen lemons. Add the slices to boiling water. Boil the mixture for at least 30 minutes. Strain. Drink a teaspoonful of every two hours until the chills disappear.
3. Drink hot soups
You can drink any homemade hot soup you like but garlic and chicken soup work best.
Garlic has anti-microbial properties which help you counterattack the microbes causing the cold. Garlic is also antiseptic and antispasmodic. It reduce aches and pains that typically arise at the onset of a cold. Here is the recipe for garlic soup:
- 8-10 cups of chicken stock or vegetable stock or broth
- Garlic-8-10 cloves peeled and crushed
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 cloves
- ½ tsp hot smoked paprika
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 medium sized tomatoes- chopped
- In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add garlic cloves until they are brown. You can now remove the garlic from the oil.
- To the garlic-infused oil, add the shallots. Fry them until they are brown. You can re-add the garlic at this point by pureeing it with a spoon or in the blender.
- Add the remaining spices. Add the tomatoes and fry.
- After tomatoes have softened, add the chicken/vegetable broth.
- Boil for 30 minutes.
- Add a little sherry vinegar to the soup for added flavor.
- Drink this soup 3-4 times a day to get rid of cold quickly.
Apart from drinking garlic soup, you could also include garlic in all your recipes such as stews, salads, or sandwiches. If you can tolerate its taste, you may also consume raw or dry roasted garlic cloves. These days you can also buy Garlic capsules that are readily available in health food stores. Opt for ones containing at least 300 mg of garlic extract. Take 3 of these pills per day to boost immunity and reduce the intensity and duration of cold.
You can also drink Chicken soup at the onset of cold. In fact: Chicken soup is one of the best folk remedies to fight both cold and cough. This remedy was even used in ancient Egypt to ward off fever and common colds. While it may not cure a cold; it will definitely help you feel better. The fact is that when you are sick, you do not feel like eating anything. By drinking chicken soup, you can keep your blood sugar levels normal. This will help you feel better and also give your body the energy to fight the infection. You can fortify chicken soup by adding other cold fighting herbs like ginger, garlic, and hot peppers which improve blood circulation and get your white blood cells moving.
Like garlic, ginger is another great natural remedy that can reduce the duration of a cold. Ginger will also help you if you have a sore throat or cough. Grate some fresh ginger root and add it to a mug of hot water. Add some maple syrup or honey or Stevia to sweeten the tea. Drink this wonderful cold fighting tea daily 3-4 times until you feel better. Ginger not only fights cold and acts as a decongestant; it is also an excellent remedy for settling down an upset stomach.
5. Steam inhalation
Steam inhalation is a fantastic remedy to get rid of nasal congestion that usually accompanies a cold. To do this: place your head directly over a steamer or a pot of boiling water. You can add half a teaspoon of Vicks Vaporub or a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil to the water. Inhaling the steam for 10 minutes will help you get rid of sore throat, runny nose and also severe nasal congestion.
6. Drink plenty of fluids
Your body uses up fluids to fight infections. So drink at least 8-10 glasses of fresh, clean water every day and even more on the days you are sick. This will help you throw out the bacteria and viruses through sweat and urine. Do not drink sweetened sodas and fruit juices. Sugar reduces immunity which will weaken your body further. You can also drink herbal teas which are preferably decaffeinated.
7. Take Echinacea
Echinacea is one of the best herbal remedies to fight colds, coughs and flu viruses. Today, Echinacea is available in multiple forms like tea, tinctures or pills. Look for a product containing at least 125 mg of Echinacea extract standardized to 4% of total echinacosides-the compound that helps boost immunity. Do not take Echinacea for more than 12 weeks. Patients having autoimmune diseases like lupus or multiple sclerosis must avoid Echinacea. Also avoid this herb if you are allergic to chamomile or other similar plant families.
8. Sleep with your head elevated
When you have a stuffy nose or nasal congestion, it can interfere with your sleep. Keeping the head elevated can help you breathe a lot easier. You can also run a humidifier in the room to keep your nasal passages wet and moist. This will help you prevent nasal drip that irritates the throat. Keep two or three soft pillows or elevate your bed a couple of inches to help the mucous drain away from the nose.
9. Do salt water gargling
This is the best remedy to get rid of sore throat that accompanies a common cold. Heat up some water and add a teaspoon of sea salt to it. Gargle with it thrice a day to eliminate phlegm and reduce pain and inflammation of the throat.
10. Use a Neti pot
A neti pot is used to rinse out the sinuses and prevent nasal congestion. Fill up the pot with warm water and add a teaspoon of salt to it. Place the spout in one nostril, tilt your head and pour the water through that nostril. The water should come out of the opposite nostril. You might need some practice to use the neti pot properly. With a few tries, you will become an expert! Use neti pot regularly to keep your nasal airways and sinuses clear off mucous.
11. Drink herbal teas
Many herbal teas can relieve cold quickly.
- Licorice herb is a fantastic remedy to get rid of cold overnight. (Note: we are talking about licorice herb and not the candy that you get in stores which will reduce your immunity!). Licorice has a sweet taste but its natural sugar boosts energy, reduces sore throat pain and also suppresses cough reflex. To make licorice tea, boil a cup of water and add teaspoon of licorice root to it. Steep the mixture for a few minutes. Enjoy it hot! Drink at least 2-3 cups everyday when you have a cold.
- Another herb to relieve cold fast is thyme. This excellent herbal remedy can also fight coughs. It is packed with antimicrobial compounds and also an expectorant that removes phlegm and mucous. It relaxes the airways and throat muscles to reduce coughing. To make thyme tea, heat up some water. Add ½ teaspoon of dried thyme leaves to the water. (Make sure you buy medicinal quality thyme not the spice that you get in regular food stores!). Cover the water and steep the mixture for 10 minutes. Strain the tea and drink three times a day for three days or until your cold persists.
- Pennyroyal tea is great for colds and flu.
- You can also drink peppermint or spearmint tea to relieve flu and cold quickly. Queen of the meadow and boneset can be made into teas and are highly valued as cold treatment.
- Sage tea is an age old German remedy for breaking a cold quickly. Boil some water and pour it in a heavy crockery cup (never use metal). Place a pinch of dry Sage (Salvia officinalis) in the water, cover the cup with the saucer and let steep for 5 minutes. Sweeten with honey and drink this tea hot at bedtime. Do this for 2-3 nights until the cold is cured completely.
- Yarrow tea is another awesome natural remedy to cure cold quickly.
- Feverfew– Get some feverfew and make a tea from it. Drink it hot. It is a very good natural remedy to fight cols and coughs, especially at nighttime.
- Tea made from wild strawberry leaves can also help you eliminate colds.
- Bee balm leaves– This is a remedy used by native Indians to fight colds and coughs. Steep 2-3 teaspoons of dried bee balm leaves in hot water. Sip a cup of this tea 3 times a day.
12. Use Baking soda for cold
Among all of the best natural remedies that can help you get rid of a cold quickly, baking soda tops our list. You can use baking soda in many different ways to fight common cold. For example:
- You can add it to a bit of warm water with a teaspoon of salt and use it as a nasal rinse. Simply fill up a clean syringe with this solution and spritz it inside your nostrils. This will help you get rid of allergens like mold and dust that could be causing your cold symptoms.
- You can also drink warm water with baking soda to make the body more alkaline. When your body is alkaline, it can fight inflammation and infections.
- You can also gargle with water containing a teaspoon of baking soda and 2 aspirins. Gargle at least 3-4 times a day with this mixture to cure cold, cough and flu immediately.
13. Make a homemade chest rub using essential oils
Buy good quality essentials oils of camphor, eucalyptus and menthol. These are natural decongestants that can help sufferers of chronic colds. Make a homemade chest rub using these essential oils. If the oils are highly concentrated, they could irritate the skin; so, do try a patch test first. You can also dilute the oils using a bit of coconut oil or corn oil before applying the mixture on the forehead and chest. Also apply on the temples, under your nose, on the pulse points and neck.
14. Use Onions
Onion and onion juice make excellent remedies to cure chest colds quickly.
- You can make a poultice of onion frying them in some grease and draining them. Apply the poultice on the chest. Keep your body warm when using this remedy. Change the poultice frequently. You can also apply onion juice on the forehead and chest. Drinking onion juice regularly is also a proven natural way of preventing colds.
- For clearing head colds in young kids, you can chop and fry 2 medium onions until they turn clear. Put them in a piece of cloth several layers thick. Pin the poultice on the inside of the child’s shirt/gown. Make sure the mixture does not burn the skin. The nasal passages will clear up and allow the child to sleep peacefully.
- Another way to use onions to relieve colds quickly is to chop a bulb of onion. Add the chopped bits to hot boiling water and boil it until an oniony odor emanates from the water. Remove the water from the stove. Place your head over the pot of water and cover yourself with a towel, making a tent over the head. Inhale the vapors of onion for at least 10 minutes or until you sweat. This remedy will help you sleep well at night when fighting a head cold.
15. Use Vinegar
Vinegar is an excellent remedy to clear up sinuses blocked by cold. Inhale the fumes of vinegar by heating it in a pan. This will relieve the congestion immediately. You can also drink apple cider vinegar with warm water and honey several times a day to get rid of a cold quickly. Make sure you only choose organic, unfiltered and raw Apple cider vinegar. This will balance the ph of the body and get rid of inflammation.
16. Drink Whiskey
If you have a cold, hang up your hat on the bed post. Then drink whiskey until you start seeing 2 hats!! Humor aside, whiskey is a wonderful natural remedy to cure all kinds of colds. There are multiple ways in which you can use whiskey to fight cold quickly:
- Mix one cup honey with one third cup whiskey. Take one teaspoon of the mixture every 2 hours to cure cold quickly.
- If your cold is accompanied by cough and sore throat, then make a homemade cough syrup by mixing whiskey, honey and lime juice (in equal quantities). Take one teaspoonful at a time.
- You can also combine whiskey with rock candy to ward off flu and colds.
17. Fight colds quickly with Turmeric
Turmeric is a wonderful natural gift to mankind. It can fight inflammation, ward off colds and coughs and even prevent cancer. There are multiple ways to use turmeric for fighting colds:
- Take ¼ tsp of turmeric in a glass of warm milk. You can sweeten this mixture with some sugar or honey. Drink a glass at bedtime to get rid of cold and cough overnight.
- You can burn a bit of turmeric root and inhale the smoke coming from it. This remedy throws out phlegm and mucous to relieve congestion caused by colds.
- Lick some honey mixed with a teaspoon of turmeric every few hours to relieve cough, cold and flu. This remedy eliminates congestion of the bronchi.
- Suck on a piece of turmeric root overnight (place it in your mouth when you go to bed). The cold will be gone by morning!
- Make a chest rub consisting of turmeric powder, ghee (clarified butter) and black pepper. Apply this mixture to the chest and throat region. This will cure irritation of the bronchial chords and clear chest congestion quickly.
18. Take Zinc lozenges at the first sign of cold
Zinc lozenges taken at the onset of cold can prevent it from worsening. You can also take supplemental zinc to boost immunity. Great deal of research has been conducted on Zinc and its ability to shorten the duration of cold and flu. So, pop a lozenge containing at least 75 mg of zinc at the onset of cold. This will help you shorten the duration of the cold by preventing the virus from multiplying. (Note: only choose zinc lozenges and not sprays as they are more effective).
So, the next time you feel a cold setting in; make sure you try one of these 18 natural ways to get rid of it quickly. Remember: if the cold lasts for more than a week, or you experience symptoms like vomiting, severe headache or have a fever over 100 F; you must see your doctor immediately.