How to Get Rid of a Cold Without Medicine

Five Methods:Treating a Common ColdTreating Specific Symptoms of a ColdUsing Herbs to Fight Off a ColdEating Right to Treat Your ColdMaking a Nasal Spray

The common cold is usually caused by a type of virus, called rhinovirus. This virus causes upper respiratory infections (URIs) most commonly, but can also cause lower respiratory infections and sometimes pneumonia. Rhinoviruses are most prevalent March through October and have a short incubation period of usually 12-72 hours after exposure to the virus.[1] Natural treatments for a cold take advantage of the idea that your immune system is best situated to kill off rhinoviruses. While there is no cure for the common cold, the goal of a natural treatment is to support the immune system with the help of various natural sources, such as herbs, vitamins, and minerals.[2]

Method 1
Treating a Common Cold

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    Get plenty of rest. Take a day off from work if you can and get some sleep. Working while sick may draw out your illness. You will get better faster and you won’t put your co-workers at risk of catching your cold if you stay home to recuperate.
    • Keep your kids home from school as well if they catch a cold. Their teacher and all the other kids' parents will appreciate it!
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    Drink plenty of fluids.[3] These fluids should be water, juices, tea, or clear chicken or vegetable broths. Chicken soup is actually very good for the common cold!
    • Be sure to drink lots of water. This bit of advice applies all the time, but even more when you have a cold. At a minimum, try to drink eight to ten 8 ounce glasses of water a day.
    • Coffee, alcohol, sugary "juices," and soda will actually dehydrate you.
    • Peppermint and green tea are full of great antioxidants and help to open passages. You can add honey to soothe a sore throat.
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    Try to eat, even though your appetite is probably very low. Veggies and fruits are always good for you, especially things with Vitamin C like broccoli, oranges, strawberries, spinach, and peppers. Soup and meal replacement shakes are also good, but anything you can keep down is a bonus.
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    Assess whether you need to see a doctor. Most of the time, there is no need to see a physician. If, however, you or your child experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor:[4]
    • A fever with a temperature higher than 100.4 °F (40 °C). If your child is younger than 6 months old and has a fever, call your doctor. For children of any age, if the fever is 104 °F (40 °C) or greater, call your physician.
    • If the symptoms last more than 10 days.
    • If the symptoms are severe or you experience unusual symptoms such as severe headaches, nausea or vomiting or difficulty breathing.

Method 2
Treating Specific Symptoms of a Cold

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    Treat individual symptoms. Some symptoms of a cold should be addressed, and treated, individually. While the general natural treatments will help, there are other things you can do to alleviate individual symptoms. Symptoms of the common cold can include: [5]
    • Nasal dryness or irritation is often the first symptom.
    • Sore throat or an irritated, itchy throat is another common first symptom.
    • Nasal discharge, nasal congestion, and sneezing. These usually get worse over the next 2-3 days after the first symptoms. The nasal discharge is usually clear and watery. It may become thicker and greenish-yellow.
    • Headache or body aches.
    • Watery eyes.
    • Facial and ear pressure from congested sinuses.
    • Loss of sense of smell and taste.
    • Cough and/or hoarseness.
    • A low-grade fever may occur, usually in infants and preschool children.
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    Treat sinus congestion. For stuffy nose, put a couple drops eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree oil in a bowl of boiling water. Put your face over it (not too close — don't burn yourself on the steam!) and cover with towel to inhale steam. You can also put these oils right into your bathwater.
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    Treat a cough. You can use natural cough drops or throat sprays, which will help to moisturize your throat and ease discomfort. If you have a dry cough, milk will moisturize your throat and help you feel better. If you have a productive cough (with phlegm coming up) milk will increase the problem.
    • If you are concerned about strep throat, a cough indicates that you do not have strep.
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    Treat a sore throat. For a general sore throat, gargle with warm salt water to kill bacteria. You can add one drop of tea tree oil to a warm salt water gargle, if available. This will help to kill bacteria in the throat.
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    Treat additional illnesses that could exacerbate your cold symptoms. The common cold can be complicated by ear infections (otitis media), sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses), chronic bronchitis (lung inflammation with congestion and coughing) and worsening of asthma symptoms.[6] If you have a combination of illnesses, it may be best to consult with a doctor to get the treatment you need.

Method 3
Using Herbs to Fight Off a Cold

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    Use echinacea at the first sign of symptoms. Echinacea tea is best used early to help deal with some of the early cold symptoms. Echinacea has been shown to reduce the symptoms and the duration of colds.[7][8]
    • Echinacea rarely causes any adverse effects, but in rare cases some people can have allergic reactions, such as nausea and headaches.
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    Add garlic to your diet. Garlic has antibacterial and antiviral properties and has been used for thousands of years to reduce the severity of colds by boosting the immune system.[9] Take garlic as a supplement (according to manufacturer’s instructions) and use garlic in all your cooking.
    • An easy way to take garlic while you have a cold is to add one to two cloves to your chicken soup!
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    Drink elderberry tea. Elderberry tea is a long-standing remedy for colds. Elderberry is an effective immune-modulating herb with antiviral properties.[10]
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    Eat ginger. Ginger is a warming herb and is safe for pregnant women and children when taken as a tea. Ginger also has antiviral properties that can help relieve your cold.[11]

Method 4
Eating Right to Treat Your Cold

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    Eat small, nutritious meals. Try to eat small amounts of solid and easily digestible food and eat more frequently. You want to provide a constant supply of energy so that the immune system has all the necessary components to do its job.
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    Eat a balanced diet. You want to include quality protein such as fish and skinless poultry as well as complex carbohydrates. Some examples of the best foods to eat are:[12]
    • Breakfast: Egg and mushroom omelet. Eggs contain zinc — zinc can help boost the immune system. They also contain protein that tends to be easily digestible for most people. Mushrooms contain glucans that boost the immune system. Adding a pinch of cayenne pepper can help break up the mucus and increase drainage.
    • Have yogurt as a snack or for lunch. The active cultures can boost your gut bacteria and boost your immune system at the same time.
    • Eat foods rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Foods that fit the bill include red peppers, oranges, berries, and leafy green vegetables. You can also include foods rich in beta-carotenes and vitamin A. These include carrots, squash and sweet potatoes.
    • Eat chicken soup! Keep it light with brown rice and a few vegetables.
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    Drink plenty of liquid. Drink water, water, and then more water. You can add honey and lemon (another source of Vitamin C), and warm up the water. Green tea contains antioxidants and fruit juices contain vitamins, minerals and can provide a quick “pick-me-up."[13][14] You can also drink chicken broth.
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    Add vitamins and minerals to your diet. If you cannot get all the essential vitamins and minerals from the foods you are eating, you may need to supplement your diet. Harvard Health Systems newsletter recommends the following vitamins and minerals to help boost your immune system:[15]
    • Vitamin A. You can find Vitamin A in dark, leafy greens, plus carrots, fish, and tropical fruits.
    • B complex vitamins — specifically, riboflavin and Vitamin B6 have been shown to boost the immune system. Leafy green vegetables are good sources of B vitamins.
    • Vitamin E is an antioxidant — avocados are a good food source of Vitamin E.
    • Vitamin C has long been considered important in fighting off colds, even though the research is somewhat contradictory. It may be that Vitamin C works best with an overall healthy diet, so try to get food sources of vitamin C. Citrus fruits and citrus juices as well as tropical fruit (papaya, pineapple) are good sources.
    • Zinc is essential for immune function, but don’t overdo it (15-25mg/day) and don’t use zinc-containing nasal sprays. These have been associated with loss of the sense of smell.
    • Selenium is an essential mineral and is lacking in some because the soil in many areas of the world is selenium deficient (selenium is taken up by plants and plants grown in selenium-deficient soils will not contain selenium). Do not take more than 100 mcg/day.

Method 5
Making a Nasal Spray

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    Assess whether you need nasal spray. A saline (salt water) nasal spray can be used to help you get through a cold, allergies, or to simply help keep your nose clear. Saline nasal sprays can be made at home and used as often as needed without worries. They can be used for adults, children and infants.
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    Collect supplies. You will need water, salt, and a small spray bottle. The spray bottle should be a 1-2 ounce bottle.
    • If you will be using the spray to help an infant or a small child with nasal congestion, you should also have a soft, rubber-bulb syringe to remove nasal secretions gently and efficiently.
    • You can use sea salt or table salt, but if you have an allergy to iodine (or if you don’t know if you have an iodine allergy), use a non-iodized salt such as pickling salt or kosher salt.
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    Make the nasal spray. Boil 8 ounces of water and allow it to cool to very warm. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt to the 8 ounces of water and mix well. The ¼ teaspoon of salt will make a saline solution that matches the amount of salt in your body (isotonic).
    • You may want to try a salt spray that has a greater concentration of salt than your body (hypertonic). To do this add ½ teaspoon of salt instead of adding ¼ teaspoon of salt. This may be useful if the congestion is significant with a lot of discharge, and you are having significant trouble breathing or clearing your nose. Don’t use a hypertonic solution for infants or small children younger than five years old.
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    Try using baking soda instead of salt. Add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to 8 ounces of hot water and mix well. The baking soda will adjust the pH of the solution to make it less likely to sting a sore nose.
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    Pour the solution into the spray bottle. Pour the rest of the solution into a covered container and refrigerate. Remember to warm up the refrigerated solution before using it though! After two days, throw out any unused solution.
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    Spray one or two squirts into each nostril as needed. Some of the solution will probably go down the back of your throat. Be sure to have a towel or tissue on hand to deal with drainage.
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    Apply the nasal spray to infants or small children with a rubber bulb. For infants and small children, apply the nasal spray by placing the tip of the bulb over one nostril (avoid touching the inside of the nostril at all if possible), give one or two small squirts, and wait 2-3 minutes. Then tilt the baby’s head back slightly and use the soft, rubber-bulb syringe to gently remove nasal secretions.[16]
    • Don’t squeeze the bulb too much.
    • Gently suction out the solution by squeezing the bulb, placing the tip slightly into the nostril, and then releasing the bulb.
    • Avoid touching the inside of the nostril if you can, though this may be difficult with a squirming baby. Wipe the bulb off on a tissue and discard the tissue. Use a new tissue for each nostril, as you are trying to minimize any contamination and to minimize the spread of an infection. Wash your hands before and after each treatment.[17][18]
    • Repeat this only two to three times a day. If your baby squirms too much, relax and just try again later. Remember to be very gentle![19] For older children, you can repeat the process four to five times a day


  • If symptoms worsen or persist after seven days, see a doctor.
  • Tea tree oil is poisonous and not meant to be swallowed. If using as a mouth rinse, use 1 drop only and do not swallow it. Rinse mouth out after wards with clear water.

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Categories: Colds and Viruses