21 Home Remedies For Cold That Work

Last updated 15 Oct 2018 . 1 min read

home remedies for cold home remedies for cold

So, the weather is changing and it’s just another normal day for me.

No, wait! What is that?!


Oh dear, a sneeze!

Well, the sneeze was soon followed by more sneezes, running nose, body ache and sore throat.

Yes, I caught cold!

Cold is a very common disease in the world and is hence called as the common cold. It is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat) and is easily “caught” as there is no one specific virus responsible for causing it. The common cold is a self-limiting and usually harmless infection (though it may not seem so when you suffering from it) and may last for 2-14 days.

Contrary to the popular belief, that cold is a winter disease, it can be caught anytime. Though it is usually rampant during winter, it is mostly caught when the individual immunity is weak, hence, very common in children of 2-6 years of age. Adults too may catch the cold two to four times a year. According to Ayurveda, the dominance of viral infections is seen during the change in seasons (Rutu Sandhi), when the immunity is not at its best and the viruses are known to strive. The Dakshinayana or southern solstice (autumn, winter and rainy seasons) is the most common time for infections.

How Does Common Cold Spread?

The common cold is transmitted by infected airborne droplets during sneezing and coughing or by direct contact with infected secretions or surfaces.

Person to person transmission occurs when an individual with cold blows or touches their nose and then touches someone or something else. A cold virus can live on objects like pen, cup, books, cell phones and computer keyboards for several hours and may be acquired from touching these as well.

The common cold can be contagious at the beginning of the infection before the symptoms manifest up until the symptoms have completely resolved. However, the highest risk of getting the infection is during the initial 2-3 days of acquired infection.

Symptoms Of Cold

Cold symptoms typically take a few days to manifest. The common cold and flu symptoms may seem to be similar in the beginning, however, flu symptoms are much more severe with fever than the cold symptoms which are usually not accompanied by fever.

The symptoms are:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Pressure over the sinuses
  • Runny and stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Loss of sense of smell and in turn taste
  • Watery eyes
  • A Headache
  • Sore and scratchy throat
  • May be accompanied by a cough
  • Fatigue
  • General body aches and tiredness
  • Low-grade fever
  • Chills
  • Earache
  • Loss of appetite

Complications Of Common Cold

Although a harmless disease, complications may arise due to the common cold.

Middle ear infection (Otitis media), bacterial sinusitis may occur when there is involvement of bacteria. In individuals with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cold can trigger an exacerbation of their symptoms like wheezing and shortness of breath. Pneumonia may occur as a secondary infection, though rare.

21 Home Remedies For Cold

To counter cold, treatment employs the use of diaphoretic (that which has the ability to cause sweating and heat in the body), expectorant (expel a cough) and herbs to promote sweating and relieve mucus.

Some of these herbs are found in our good old kitchen and can be used for treating cold.

#1. Lemon juice

Take Lemon Juice (1 tsp) along with fresh ginger juice (1 tsp) in a glass of warm water along with 1 tsp of honey is good for combating cold. Lemon is an excellent source of Vitamin C, ginger is an anti-Kapha herb and honey is an expectorant and also loosens a cough stuck in the chest.

#2. Cinnamon, Basil and Clove

Spice teas like cinnamon, basil and clove are helpful as all the three have anti-Kapha and heat producing properties.

#3. Dry Ginger Powder

Boil 1-2 grams of dry ginger powder (Saunth in Hindi) in a glass of cow’s milk and drink at bedtime.

#4. Tulsi Juice

Drinking a cocktail of Tulsi juice (2-10 ml) along with ginger juice (2-10ml) and honey twice a day brings relief with cold symptoms. Tulsi is considered to be the best herb against all respiratory diseases and is one of the most potent antimicrobial herbs.

#5. Jaggery

Mix and consume old jaggery (Gud in Hindi) and 2-10 grams of ginger, two to three times a day.  It is important to use old jaggery (at least one-year-old) as this is anti kapha. New and improperly made jaggery causes more harm than benefit.

#6. Black Pepper Powder

Boil 2 grams of black pepper powder and 2 grams of turmeric in a glass of cow’s milk and drink before bedtime. Black pepper powder is again anti-Kapha, antibiotic and is excellent for relief from nasal congestion and sinusitis. Turmeric is again considered to be an excellent herb for the respiratory system. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, heat producing and anti-kapha.

#7. Warm Water With Lemon Juice

Drinking warm water with lemon juice or green tea with lemon juice provides relief. Chamomile tea too is relaxing.

#8. Ghee In Nostril

Put two drops of warm and melted cow’s ghee or sesame oil (Til Tel in Hindi) in each nostril at bedtime to maintain moisture and clearing nasal congestion, stuffiness and difficulty in breathing.

Also read: 18 Best Life Hacks for Kitchen

#9. Black Pepper Powder, Dry ginger powder & Long Pepper

An equal quantity of Black pepper powder, dry ginger powder and long pepper (Pippali in Sanskrit) powder to be taken with honey or ghee followed by warm water is an excellent expectorant.

#10. Steam Inhalation

Inhalation of steam along with a few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus, thyme and lavender oils to relieve nasal congestion, chest congestion, headache and sinusitis.

#11. Liquorice Root

Keeping a small piece of liquorice root (Mulethi in Hindi, Yashtimadhu in Sanskrit) in the mouth and chewing it to release the juice soothes the sore and scratchy throat and relieves a cough. A kasha made of this is good for singers as well!

#12. Dry Ginger Powder

An equal quantity of dry ginger powder and cinnamon powder with honey.

Make a kadhai or tea of the Tulsi Panchanga (5 parts of the Tulsi plant- leaves, bark, root, fruit and flower) and drink this 2-3 times a day along with rock candy (Misri in Hindi).

#13. Carom Seeds

Make a snuff of carom seeds (Ajwain in Hindi). Roast a small teaspoon of carom seeds in a pan, crush them finely and inhale this powder through the nostrils. This relieves nasal congestion, running nose, headache, watery eyes and sinusitis.

#14. Liquorice Root

Rub liquorice root in a little lemon juice and lick the paste formed every 2-3 hours in a day.

#15.  Turmeric Powder & Old Jaggery

Make small balls of turmeric powder and old jaggery and eat them as lozenges (keep them in the mouth without biting on them and let the saliva dissolve these) every 3-4 hours in a day, to provide relief from cold symptoms.

#16. Warm Water & Salt

Gargling with warm water and salt provides relief from a sore throat.

#17. Roasted Garlic

Roast a full garlic on the flame, peel and eat one bud at a time, every 3-4 hours.

#18. Camphor Plus Coconut Oil

Camphor mixed in coconut oil can be rubbed on the chest to relieve chest congestion and provide warmth.

#19. Lemongrass

Boil a few fresh strands of lemongrass, 2-3 cloves, a small cinnamon stick and turmeric in a cup of cow’s milk and drink.

#20. Cayenne Pepper

Combine cayenne pepper (red chilli), lemon juice and honey in a glass of hot water and drink daily to subside the cold.

#21. Yogasanas

Apart from the herbal remedies, immunity boosting Yogasanas like, Setubandhasana, Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, Matsyasana, Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana etc may be practised for immunity building.

Prevention and Precaution Of a Cough

The most important measure to be undertaken to prevent cold is to avoid contact with the infected person.

(a) Frequent and thorough washing of hands must be encouraged at home. Especially with school going children, sanitisation and hygiene must be practised.

(b) Encourage cleaning the potentially infected surfaces. Avoid sharing towels, handkerchiefs, tissues, plates, spoons, stationery etc with the infected individuals.

(c) Encourage and practice covering the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing.

(d) Lifestyle modification to avoid smoking, eating healthy and stress management should be practised.

(e) Once affected by the cold, drinking lots of fluids, warm soups, vitamin C rich fruits and of course taking plenty of rest must be taken into account. It is best to eat food which is light for digestion, warm and freshly cooked. Ayurveda suggests avoiding foods which cause an excess of Kapha (phlegm) like yoghurt, cheese, buffalo’s milk, oily and heavy food, red meat, bread and bakery products. Fasting is helpful for individuals who are suffering from loss of appetite and are not too weak to fast.

(f) Excess sweating or exercise and exertion must be avoided.

(g) Warm water baths with essential oils help in decongestion, peripheral circulation and expelling cough.

So, here are a few of the many home remedies that you can try for overcoming the common cold. I’m off to try these too!

Dr. Arundhati Walwadkar

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