It’s that time of year again. Mornings are colder, evenings are darker, and we’re all starting to feel just a little under the weather. While it might be tempting to run for a prescription, antibiotics can’t help with cold viruses as they’re designed to fight bacterial infections.
This winter, rather than spending a fortune on Lemsip, Strepsils and foul-smelling cough medicine, get through cold season with some of these budget-friendly home remedies for a cold. These natural cold remedies have been passed down through generations, and all cost just £1 or less.
Add a little eucalyptus, peppermint or oregano oil
Make a DIY VapoRub on a budget with some peppermint or eucalyptus oil. Both have antiviral and antimicrobial properties which help with congestion and lower your temperature.
Peppermint oil, in particular, contains menthol, meaning it can help soothe sore throats and calm a cough, while eucalyptus oil can help fight the virus. Oregano oil is also worth a try. As an effective antimicrobial and antioxidant, it can naturally support your immune system, and smells great too!
Fashion an at-home cool compress with eucalyptus oil and a damp flannel. Alternatively, fill a bowl with boiling water, add a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil to the water and place a towel over your head to breathe in the steam. This will soothe your sore throat and blocked nose, leaving you feeling refreshed and calm. Pick up these essential oils from as little as £0.99.
Gargle salt water
It may not taste the best, but gargling salt water is a surprisingly effective cure for a sore throat. The second your throat starts feeling scratchy, try adding a half teaspoon of salt to a glass of warm water. Stir until it’s dissolved and gargle once or twice a day to stop your sore throat before it starts. Plus, since you probably have salt knocking around in your kitchen cupboard already, you won’t have to spend an extra penny.
Ooh, honey honey
And now for something a little more tasty…honey has been a well-known cold cure for generations, helping to ease a sore throat and help with coughs. Add a little honey or lemon to your tea or warm milk, or have a spoonful before bed to help you sleep and ease your symptoms. In fact, GPs now recommend you try a touch of honey first to see if it helps to relieve your cough, showing just how effective this simple home remedy can be.
Believe it or not, mustard oil is also a great way to help treat a cold or cough. Thanks to its touch of spice, it can help to clear congestion fast and easily. Treat a steam treatment at home, or rub a teaspoon of mustard oil on your chest at night to help it clear your respiratory tract as you sleep.
Similarly, ginger packs enough of a spicy punch to help with everything from colds and fevers to nausea, upset stomachs and congestion. This handy little spice is both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial, helping boost your immune system and keep you protected. Add a shot of ginger to your tea, flavour with some honey or lemon, add some classic ginger powder to your porridge in the morning – or if you’re feeling brave, chew on raw ginger root a few times a day.
The blackberries of the elder tree have been used for centuries as a natural remedy for their direct antiviral effects, says Jenny Carson, Senior Nutritionist at ethical vitamin company Viridian Nutrition. Black elderberries are packed full of antioxidants, providing immune support and rich in polyphenols (micronutrients found in plants.)
Clinical studies found that elderberry extract to reduce flu and cold symptoms when taken in the first few days of infection then continued for at least five days. Jenny advises that early use of elderberry extract can be a natural solution to treating or preventing the common cold and flu.
Plenty of water, and some chocolate!
Health practitioner Tammy Richards and the health and dispensary brand PureOptical told us that the cheapest and most effective remedy is water, pure and simple! When we are ill we can become very dehydrated and this can make us feel so poorly. Take sips of water little and often.
Along with water, Tammy’s favourite remedy is chocolate. That’s right – you’re allowed to indulge a little when you’re feeling poorly. Research shows that the theobromine in cocoa can suppress the need to cough by creating a coating around the nerve endings around the throat, working similarly to honey to help you feel better. Try sucking on a bit of chocolate to help your throat – don’t overdo it though!
The traditional method of plenty of vitamin C really does work. Your body gets vitamin C from fruits such as oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruits, as well as vegetables like broccoli, green and red peppers, spinach and more. There’s a reason doctors tell us to eat five a day!
Eating plenty of fruit and veg all the time will help boost your immune system and keep you fighting fit. Once you start feeling ill, make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin C to give yourself a boost by adding some lemon to your tea, drinking orange juice and more to help soothe your throat and fight against infections.
A classic straight out of granny’s remedy book, chicken soup is a well-known remedy for the common cold. It’s no big secret why – not only is chicken packed full of protein, but the vegetables will up your levels of vitamin C. The broth helps keep you hydrated and the warmth of the soup works as a steam remedy while you tuck into this delicious, healthy meal. Add some garlic for an extra burst of healthy vitamin C, minerals, enzymes and selenium to help you get over your cold even faster.
Add a little extra comfort
For a blocked nose, try sleeping with an extra pillow at night. The different angle helps to clear your nasal passages, which in turn will hopefully help you get a better night’s sleep as it’ll make breathing easier. Plus, you need plenty of rest, so make your bed as comfy as possible.
Nothing a warm bath can’t fix
If all else fails, a hot bath is well worth a try. Not only can it help you relax and warm you up, but the steam can help clear your sinuses and soothe any aches and pains. Adding a little baking soda helps even more with any aches.
Add a few drops of essential oils for an easy, at-home steam. Essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint and oregano are all great options for the reasons we went over earlier. Rosemary oil is another good one to use as it’s said to help relieve headaches. Whether you’re helping the kids get over a cold or trying to cure yourself, no one can say no to a nice warm bath.
As well as these easy, at-home remedies, make sure you keep yourself warm and hydrated and get plenty of rest. To stop yourself getting a nasty cold in the first place, it’s well worth grabbing a travel size bottle of hand sanitiser to keep yourself protected from infection at the office and on public transport. If you find your symptoms aren’t improving, make sure you get yourself to a doctor ASAP.
What are your favourite home remedies for a cold? Let us know in the comments.