Not-So-Common Cures for the Common Cold

A holistic nutritionist explains the best common cold cures for flu season and beyond

Sarah Jacobs— There are five stages of the dreaded common cold:

1. The Sick Sense
2. Denial
3. Unavoidable Acceptance
4. Full on Gross
5. Recovery

We all know them well. It starts with a throat tickle you chalk up to poor air circulation in your office, or the change in weather. And it progresses to an impossible-to-ignore onslaught of symptoms that steal the pep out of your step and render you feeling gross and exhausted.

They say there’s no cure. But before you run straight for the z-pack antibiotics (which, in the long run, could do more harm than good), there are things you can do to take action and help your bod fight the invaders. Read on for some holistic and little known cold cures that you should stock up on this season.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar
So, it’s true that if you read up on this stuff online, you’ll find that it’s purported to do everything from cure cancer to teleport people to the moon. And while the evidence behind the remedy is mostly anecdotal, the truth is that it can’t hurt. Try a shot in the morning mixed with some lemon (kick it up with cayenne if you’re brave) and no matter what, you’ll definitely clear your nasal passages, at the very least.


Photo Credit: Flickr/ CC by SA 2.0

2. Olive Leaf
This stuff is a mega antimicrobial. Load up on it and you’ll naturally help your immune system fight off the bugs that are causing you grief. Look for it in pill form at your local health/supplement store.

3. Oil of Oregano
One sniff and you know this is powerful stuff. It’s awesome at killing the bad bugs and great to keep your digestive system humming along (important for immune system function). Add a few drops to water and chug away. Just be warned — it’s intense!

Related: Why Your Digestive Health is More Important Than You Think

4. Turmeric
A powerful anti-inflammatory, this is great to supplement with year-round, but especially when you want your immune system on its A-game. If your bod is taxed with dealing with inflammation, it’s too tired to deal with fighting off the common cold. Save the situation by cooling inflammation before it starts.

Flickr/Martin Moscosa

Photo Credit: Flickr/Martin Moscosa CC by 2.0

5. Lemon/Ginger/Manuka honey
Start your day with this trifecta (right after that apple cider vinegar shot) and you’ll knock out that mess of mucus in no time. Make a hot tea by steeping some ginger slices in boiling water (ginger is a powerful antimicrobial), then add in freshly squeezed lemon (for a hit of vitamin C and detoxification), and a bit of Manuka honey (also great at killing off the bad stuff). Drink and feel the healing benefits.

6. Zinc
Most colds are caused by rhinovirus and it’s been thought that zinc prevents it from lodging in membranes and multiplying. There’s no definitive evidence because no massive study has been done, but some preliminary ones show it’s beneficial at preventing and shortening colds.

7. Elderberry
This one’s been used for a long time to help protect the body. Thought to prevent viruses from entering healthy cells, and also to boost immunity by attacking free radicals, this is a good guy to keep around this season.

Flickr/steve p2008

Photo Credit: Flickr/steve p2008 CC by 2.0

And finally, rest! No one likes feeling sick, and sometimes the hardest thing is to slow down and rest. But, that’s just what the cold is telling you to do. Stressing the body too much is a surefire way to lower immune function and leave yourself susceptible to invaders. Make sure you sleep and take time away from the mess of life to calm the body so you’re protected and can heal properly if the cold bug does come for you.

Sarah Jacobs is co-founder of The Wellness Project NYC and a certified Holistic Nutritionist with The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She believes that health is attainable for everyone and that food is the best medicine. She also believes in laughter. Lots of it. …You can’t be “well” without it. She occasionally swears, is usually sassy, and is always dependable.

More Reading:
6 Flu-Fighting Superfoods
Experts Share Easy Ways to Boost Your Immune System
The Healthy Habit You Have to Master If You Want to Avoid Catching a Cold