Natural Cold Remedies

(Photo credit: anna gutermuth)

I woke up with a hoarse/sore throat the other morning. I thought it’d maybe go away, like it was dry from sleeping or something, but it didn’t. Now, it’s all tickle-y, and triggers dry coughing bouts every now and then. Luckily, I’m not stuffed up, nor am I coughing up mucus, although my head felt a little heavy on Tuesday (I think because I was tired). My voice is all raspy and I truly thought I was going to lose it completely. I have it in the meantime, but it’s still hoarse. It’s funny, because I’ve actually had people tell me that they like my voice like this, but the same cannot be said when I’m stuffed up. That just doesn’t sound good on anyone! I’m glad my body is rocking the sexy voice and not the stuffy, mouth-breather voice though. Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that point. Fortunately, I rarely get sick anymore and when I do come down with something — usually a cold — it doesn’t last very long.

By the way, I’m pretty sure I picked this up at school. It’s my second week back after nearly three weeks off, so I’m coming into contact with a lot more people and germs. It’s also just the nature of things this time of year.

Anyway, I definitely have some go-to remedies when it comes to colds. Here’s what I rely on, in addition to a healthy, nutrient-dense diet:

  1. Lots of water and hot tea, especially ginger and green tea: we all know the importance of fluids when we’re sick, so drink up! A little raw honey mixed in the tea can also help soothe the throat. If you have time, you can even make homemade lemon ginger tea. Click the image below for a simple recipe.

    (Photo credit:
    (Photo credit:
  2. Bone broth: loaded with tons of vitamins and minerals, this traditional elixir has even been referred to as, “Jewish Penicillin.” For more info on bone broth and a simple recipe, click here. Also, if you don’t want to drink the broth straight up, make a pot of chicken soup to ward off your cold or flu. Add extra garlic too, which strengthens the immune system. Cayenne is another great addition because it can help move congested mucus.
  3. Gargling with salt water: I always use this tactic at the onset of a sore throat. It’s known to draw excess fluid from inflamed tissues in the throat, which makes it hurt less. It’s also beneficial during a full-blown cold because it helps break up mucus. Be sure to use warm filtered water and sea salt, not iodized table salt.
  4. Coconut water: more fluid with a generous dose of electrolytes! Plus, it tastes good too.

    My favorite coconut water brand. I also love Amy & Brian's brand. (Photo credit:
    My favorite coconut water brand. I also love Amy & Brian’s Coconut Juice. (Photo credit:
  5. Neti pot with goldenseal: I’ve been using a neti pot with sea salt for several years now, but it wasn’t until last winter that my naturopath told me about adding goldenseal to the solution. You don’t need to add much, just 2-4 drops. Goldenseal is a natural antimicrobial, so it helps kill off bugs, while treating irritated and inflamed mucous membranes. You can find goldenseal tincture at Whole Foods, natural health stores, New Seasons, etc. I bought mine from my naturopath’s clinic here in Portland. Also, be sure to use warm, filtered water in your neti pot and always use sea salt, not iodized table salt!

    Dwight attempts to neti with a tea pot in an episode of The Office. Make sure you use an actual neti pot when you do this! (Photo credit:
     (Photo credit:
  6. Homeopathic medicine: I like Hyland’s Sinus or Boiron’s Coldcalm tablets. Both of these tablets dissolve under your tongue and are completely natural, safe, and don’t contain any harmful additives or ingredients. They both contain a tiny amount of lactose, but I’ve never had a problem with either because it’s such a minute amount. These are even recommended as a cold remedy for those complying to the SCD (specific carbohydrate diet), which as you may know, is a variation of paleo.
  7. Kombucha: fermented foods help boost the immune system by supplying beneficial organisms, which promotes the growth of healthy flora. Other fermented food sources include pickles, sauerkraut, kimchee, etc.

    Trilogy kombucha, my favorite flavor from GT's. (Photo credit:
    Trilogy kombucha, my favorite flavor from Synergy. (Photo credit:
  8. Rest: give your body what it needs, slow down and take it easy. I don’t think I need to elaborate here.


What are some natural or homemade remedies that you turn to when you have a cold? Do you eat or drink anything special?


12 thoughts on “Natural Cold Remedies

  1. Amy January 17, 2013 / 7:44 am

    Great post, ginger tea has worked wonders for me when fighting a cold. Do you know for sure that brand of Kombucha is scd legal? I know it has to be fermented long enough for all the sugar to be consumed. If you know for sure that brand is legal I may try it, I am on GAPS.

    • paleoinpdx January 17, 2013 / 9:42 am

      Amy, I did a lot of research before trying kombucha again and couldn’t find anything about it being illegal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not. I definitely am careful! I haven’t had any problems with it, but I also don’t overdo it and drink it very moderately. Honestly, I waited after being on the SCD for nearly a year before trying kombucha. I wouldn’t recommend it at the beginning stages of healing. I think it’s a little too risky. Yes, by the end of the fermentation process, there’s literally little to no sugar left, but I don’t know the exact amount of time GT’s ferments for. Like I said, I’m still careful and choose the flavors with the least amount of sugar, 2g per serving. Fortunately, trilogy is one of those flavors, which is my favorite. If you really want to find out for sure, you could email or call the company. I haven’t had any problems, but I’m not sure how far along you are in your healing process. Plus, we’re all different!

    • paleoinpdx January 17, 2013 / 9:43 am

      Wow, thanks! I may or may not participate…we’ll see!

  2. Cinnamoneats January 17, 2013 / 10:34 am

    Great tips! The gargling with salt water thing works wonders and I’ve been doing it since I was a kid… my parents would insist on it and still to this day when I tell my mum I have a sore throat she’ll say go gargle with salt water! 🙂

  3. paleoinpdx January 17, 2013 / 2:09 pm

    Thanks, Naz! I wish I would’ve known about gargling salt water as a kid, although I probably would’ve hated doing it. You’re fortunate that your parents were on to that kind of stuff. I didn’t start doing it until my young adult years and I agree, it helps big time!

    • Cinnamoneats January 17, 2013 / 2:58 pm

      Also I should say hope you feel better soon! And yep I hated it as a kid (still do) but it’s effective so I do it! My parents were big on that kind of stuff like my dad would make us drink tea with honey and fresh ginger in it and mum would make us suck on a piece of fresh ginger if we had a sore throat. The tea I didn’t mind so much but just plain ginger was hard but again it helps!

      • paleoinpdx January 17, 2013 / 3:10 pm

        Thanks, I hope so too! I just don’t want it to get any worse. I admit that I don’t enjoy gargling with salt water either, but I’m sure I tolerate it way better now than I would have as a kid. It’s nice that your parents passed down some good cold/flu tips and remedies to you. Natural is the way to go, as you know!

  4. Craving4More January 17, 2013 / 5:28 pm

    Trilogy is my favorite!!! I have one almost every day!

  5. Craving4More January 17, 2013 / 5:29 pm

    I LOVE Trilogy. It’s my fav-I’m hooked. I have one almost every day!

  6. Corrie Anne January 18, 2013 / 7:52 am

    I caught a dang cold while I was in Minnesota for Christmas. Tea helped!

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