Natural Remedies

10 Cold and Flu Home Remedies

| Modified on Nov 27, 2023
Cold and Flu Home Remedies.

The common cold can have symptoms that range from "an irritating nuisance" to "a miserable inconvenience." Natural remedies for the common cold work to relieve the symptoms and kill the actual virus causing the cold. Home treatment can nip colds in the bud and the earlier the treatment begins, the faster the results are seen.

Symptoms of a common cold include stuffy and/or runny nose, headache, sore throat, cough, stuffy or painful ears, and malaise. Colds are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not kill viruses and most over the counter remedies only treat symptoms. Simple herbs and vitamin supplements can actually kill the cold viruses and reduce the duration of the cold.

Colds Versus Allergies

Colds often start with a sore throat, headache and stuff nose. While these symptoms are common with allergies as well, colds usually start suddenly. Oftentimes with colds your symptoms begin a day or two after being around someone else who was sneezing and coughing but came to work anyway.

Colds Versus The Flu

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between a cold and the flu. Cold symptoms are usually more mild. Usually with a cold, there is little to no fever. Bed rest is ideal but it is usually possible to push through with work or school. When you have the flu you usually have a fever and body aches as well. With the flu it is very difficult to carry on with work or school and bed rest is usually unavoidable. For remedies for the flu, see this page.

Five Quick Steps to Stop Your Cold Dead in its Tracks!

The sooner treatment begins for a cold, the better. Head for the kitchen cabinet and get some salt for a good old fashioned gargle. This will begin to kill the germs in the throat and bring pain relief. You may wonder if this penny remedy is worth the bother. But remember, salt does kill germs. Think of how salt was used to preserve foods before refrigeration. Consider the dead sea (where nothing can live) which is a salt lake. Great grandmothers recommended this for good reason!

1. Salt Water Gargle

Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt (preferable sea salt) to 1/4 cup very warm water. Gargle deeply.

For the stout-hearted -  add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the salt gargle. This will be a spicy concoction but will make it more powerful. Cayenne kills germs and relieves pain as well.

Skeptics can view this video to see the cayenne pepper gargle in action.

The next step is to kill the germs in your nose with salt.

2. Salt Water Sniffing

Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 1/2 cup of warm water, not quite as warm as is used to gargle with.

Pour a bit of this into the palm of  aclean hand and snort it up into the nose. Or use a straw or eye dropped to drip it into the nose. (Lie down and tilt the head back to do that.)

Have a box of tissues on hand, this will immediately begin to clean out the sinuses.

Again, if you are feeling brave, follow the treatment with a bit of cayenne pepper. Dip a q-tip into water and then into the cayenne pepper to get a bit of cayenne onto the end of the q-tip. Use the q-tip to apply the cayenne inside each nostril. (No need to go very far into the nose.) This is going to sting and cause. It will clear out the sinuses in a hurry.

3. Hot Healing Tea

Now it is time to brew a mug of healing tea, so put the kettle on.

Use regular black tea or green tea, or make apple cider vinegar tea.

Use one tea bag or 1 Tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar per mug of tea.

Sweeten with honey, blackstrap molasses or raw sugar. Do not sweeten with artificial sweetener.

While the kettle is boiling or the tea is steeping, stop by the bathroom and get the hydrogen peroxide and grab a cotton ball.

4. Clean Out Germs in Your Ears

Pour a cap full of 3% hydrogen peroxide into each ear. This will kill germs in the ears and help to prevent an ear infection. Use the cotton ball to absorb excess hydrogen peroxide.

5. Rest!

Get back to the mug of tea. Sit down with feet up and enjoy the tea.

Tempting as it is to keep up normal routines when suffering with a cold, rest will allow the body to use its energy to fight the cold virus.

Repeat the salt water gargle, salt water sniffing, hydrogen peroxide in ears, rest and tea every few waking hours.

The above cold cure is in most homes. It is very inexpensive and carries few side effects.

At the same time, there are many more wonderful natural remedies for colds, so choose what suits!

6. Apple Cider Vinegar

Raw and organic apple cider vinegar is a quick an easy cold cure. It breaks up congestion and helps to alkalize the body. It can be added to a glass of water and taken as a tonic, or added to a mug of hot water with some honey as a tea.

7. Garlic

Raw garlic has antiviral properties and is a great quick cold cure. It can be added to soups, eggs, rice or any number of dishes. It can be spread on toast with butter or honey. Ideally, take at least a clove of garlic four times daily until your symptoms resolve.

8. Baths

Baths are a relaxing way to relieve cold symptoms. Add 1 cup of baking soda or 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide to the bath water and soak. The baking soda will help to alkalize the body. The hydrogen peroxide will help to oxygenate the body. Add 1 drop of eucalyptus essential oil to the bath water help with nasal congestion.

9. Vitamin Supplements for Colds

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can be taken several times a day when fighting a cold. In fact, the body needs more vitamin C when sick.


Zinc is important for the immune system. Zinc supplements are usually taken once daily with a meal. Studies suggest that zinc reduces the duration and severity of cold viruses.1

Vitamin D

Often colds come along in winter months when the body has less sun exposure (and therefore fewer opportunities to make its own vitamin D.) A vitamin D supplement can help the immune system to fight a cold.

10. Diet

Eat nutritious foods to provide the body with energy and nutrients to fight the cold. Avoid sugars and processed foods. Avoid dairy as it will make congestion worse. Warm soups, broths, teas and juices are ideal.

Do you have a natural remedy for a cold? Or perhaps a home treatment that you learned from your grandmother? We would love to hear from you! Continue reading to learn the interesting natural remedies our readers have used to cure their colds fast!




Additional Pages of Interest:

Colds in Children
Colds in the Elderly

Apple Cider Vinegar + Hydrogen Peroxide

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by healer Larry (central point oregon) on 11/26/2023

I woke up choking, gasping for air, stumbled to the bathroom trying to clear the mucus clogging my lungs and sinuses. I knew I had to figure it out quick and do some bathroom chemistry. so I grabbed a cup and poured 1/3 hydrogen peroxide and added 1/3 apple cider vinegar and1/3 hot tap water.

I quickly started gargling the mixture and spit it out, it started cutting the phlegm immediately. I continued gargling, rinsing with another cup of water seems to have a drawing effect pulling from the sinus and the lungs. This is hands down the best mucus busting gargle ever. It's cheap, fast and works. It has never not worked for the people I have recommended it to. I call it Larry's gargle.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Baking Soda

3 User Reviews
5 star (3) 

Posted by Angie (Walla Walla, WA) on 10/06/2019

Holy cow I tried the apple cider vinegar and baking soda remedy last night. I had had a runny nose all day and was feeling a cold coming on. I made some fresh ginger tea with some honey and added the baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Before I went to bed I also put some hydrogen peroxide in my ears.

Today everything is pretty much gone. I still have a little pressure in my sinuses but I have not sniffed once today.

Thanks for your suggestion, I'm going to use this from now on!!

Apple Cider Vinegar, Baking Soda
Posted by Caitlin (Austin) on 01/21/2019

As long as I keep grains non-existent in my diet, I don't catch colds. But when something is going around my neighborhood and even food carts at the supermarket may have cold germs attached to them I start to feel a sore throat, sneezing, congestion appearing -- especially during flu season. Here's a remedy that I got off Earthclinic years ago that still works quickly and brilliantly if you catch those symptoms when they first start:

1/2 tsp baking soda + 1 tablespoon of Apple Cidar Vinegar in 6 oz of water once in the a.m. and once 1 hour before bed. For me, it works EVERY time. Gave this remedy to my daughter one night when she was so congested she could barely breathe. She took it; her boyfriend refused. Next morning, she went to work; he didn't. Took the stubborn lad a week before he finally relented and took "the remedy." He slept like a baby and went on to work, greatly uncongested the next day. As usual, check with your doctor first especially if you are salt intolerant, have stomach issues, or taking medications. Fasting once -twice weekly can also help build up your resistance to colds.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Baking Soda
Posted by Mimijewels (San Diego) on 03/13/2017

I have had a cold and relapse 3 times including strep throat. Went to doctors to get rid of that. Cold was coming on again and I put Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), cayenne pepper, baking soda and I feel great. Will keep sipping ACV with Soda and cayenne ...determined to get rid of this

Apple Cider Vinegar, Cayenne

4 User Reviews
5 star (3) 
1 star (1) 

Posted by Danaran (Naples, Fl) on 04/29/2018

1 Mug boiled water

1-2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV w/ "The Mother")

1-2 Tablespoons of raw honey

1/4- 1/2 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper

Amount of each ingredient should equal tolerance to the strength of the tea. I don't mind spice but you can start with mild strength. ( EX: 1 tablespoon each of ACV and raw honey and 1/4 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper)

Drink as hot as you can. Repeat 2-3 times daily. This removed all the phlegm in sinuses and throat and had me feeling better in a few hours.

I felt better within 24 hours. Hope this helps!!

Apple Cider Vinegar, Cayenne
Posted by Olddude (Chattanooga, Tn) on 06/03/2012

My story: went on vacation, got a bug/cold/running nose/coughing and so on. Came back, got worse. Tried all the Apple Cider Vinegar and cayanne, and so on. Did not cure it. finally went to the doctor, one steroid shot and nasal meds, got well sort of in 3 days. Its June 2, I am finally well, what I had was from zell. Ears got clogged up, sinusis bad, chest and lungs screw up somewhat. Yes the doctors meds killed all the stuff, but it still took another 7 days to finally leave my body, So, Apple Cider Vinegar and all these remedys did not kill this mess I had, but I kept taking them. I guess sometimes u gotta go see the doctor, IMHO

Apple Cider Vinegar, Cayenne
Posted by Mememe (USA) on 06/03/2012

Glad you are feeling better. Just want to point out that if it took you another 7 days to feel better... It might just have been whatever it was running its course. It would be kind of hard to say it was the prescriptions if it took that long to go away I would think. (mo) Just a thought.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Cayenne
Posted by Julia (Gaithersburg, Maryland) on 11/18/2011

Someone posted on here a wonderful recipe which I tried, with a few modifications, and I just wanted to let you all know what I tried, because it was amazing. I have been fighting off a bug for a couple of weeks now (aches, sore throat, feeling run-down, a little sneezy) but it hadn't quite turned into something full-blown.

I made the following mixture: 1 tsp ACV, 1 tsp honey, 1/2 tsp powdered cayenne, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, 2 tsp water. Then sip it slowly (tiny sips). It is somewhat thick and will coat the back of your throat. It tastes surprisingly good, soothed my sore throat instantly, and started to clear up my sinuses and the "lump" in the back of my throat which was developing. I have taken this mixture a couple times a day for the past two days and I'm feeling much better.

Apple Cider Vinegar, Cayenne
Posted by Sbc (Nashville, Tn) on 02/08/2011

Hi, I've been sick now for more than a week. i got a bad cold, swollen throat feeling, tons of drainage etc and haven't felt well.

well I tried the Apple Cider Vinegar (couple tbs) , 1/4 tsp cayenne and a couple tbs of honey... I warmed it up and gargled a few times... Then 20 minutes later, I did it again and have felt 10 times better. I have been concerned this past week cause I've had issues swallowing, I guess from the drainage andsore throat... This has responded so quickly. I don't like the taste of Apple Cider Vinegar but I'm doing this anyway... I'm gonna do it a couple more times today. I've also tried sipping a little of it to. I know that has to be beneficial. Thanks so much everyone for sharing this WONDERFUL little natural trick... Thank you thank you!

Baking Soda

2 User Reviews
5 star (2) 

Posted by Paracelsus (Orlando, Fl) on 07/10/2020 47 posts

There are many different remedies that work but nothing works as fast and effective as baking soda. At the first sign of a cold or flu, take 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water 6x the first day, 4x the second day, and 2x the third day. 95% of the time the cold is stopped in its tracks within the first 24 hours. Works for any viral infection as far as my experience goes, as long as you catch it right away.

EC: Warning: baking soda contains a lot of sodium. Be careful.

Baking Soda
Posted by Claire (Horseshoe Bend, Id, Usa) on 12/31/2009

Baking Soda for colds

I had all the early signs of a cold / flu coming on yesterday - achy, runny nose, sore throat, cough. I started taking 1/2 tsp of baking soda in a glass of cold water every 2 hours last night, and cut back to every 4 hours this afternoon. It has been just over 24 hours, and I feel FINE. I can hardly believe it myself, but I KNOW I was exposed, I KNOW I was getting sick... now, I am fine. Absolutely worth trying if you are coming down with a cold or flu!

Baking Soda and Zinc

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Bill (Cottonwood, AZ)

As soon as you feel a tickle or sensation in your throat. Take 1/2 to 1 tsp. of baking soda in a glass of water followed by a zinc lozenge under your tongue and you will never get a cold. My family has been doing this for years and it works. One night I was lazy and didn't do it; sure enough, next morning had a cold.

Bay Leaf, Clove, and Ginger Tea

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Brent (Ontario) on 05/02/2023

Crush some bay leafs about a small handful, add some cloves fresh or ground powder about a teaspoon, and fresh ginger about an inch to some boiling water, boil for a few minutes on medium then simmer on low for awhile 15 minutes or so. Drink this to relieve chest congestion and open sinuses.

Black Elderberry Syrup

4 User Reviews
5 star (4) 

Posted by Veronicac (Tx) on 10/11/2020

I work in different schools for a large school district. I used to get sick a lot. Now I order dried elderberry off Amazon or other websites and make my own syrup. When I feel a sore throat coming on, I take about a tablespoon once an hour. It usually either knocks out the cold completely or cuts the symptoms and time down considerably. You can make a batch and freeze it for when you need it since it can ferment in the fridge if kept too long. There have been studies done that prove elderberry's therapeutic efficacy.

Even my husband, who doesn't like the taste, will ask for it when he is getting sick. It's the only thing I've found that actually works.

Black Elderberry Syrup
Posted by Joanne (Chicago) on 03/06/2020

Black Elderberry Syrup Found this stuff in the drugstore and didn't have much hope. It contains no drugs or alcohol, just elderberry concentrate and a bit of agave. It is VERY sweet so it is more palatable if you dissolve a couple spoonfuls in a glass of water. But crikey! The stuff actually works. Take it a few times a day and you will be perking up in no time. I prefer it to the OTC stuff that simply suppresses symptoms. I think if you go that route you end up slowing down the healing process.