What are some natural remedies recommended by doctors and supported by research?
When you look at the science, it turns out your grandmother wasn’t so far off on some of those home remedies she used to talk about. For example, it’s really true that olives can help stave off motion sickness—but only if you eat them when the first symptoms appear. That’s because olives contain tannin, which works to eliminate the saliva that triggers nausea.
It’s also absolutely true that oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties, and that a finely ground paste of it can help soothe eczema. The neutralizing powers of yogurt and other probiotics also can help get rid of bad breath.
Gargle salt water for a sore throat, take a spoonful of sugar for hiccups, and chew on a pencil for a headache—they all have a scientific reason why they work.
And, although there are no studies to back up putting Vapor Rub on toenail fungus, enough people have reported success with the remedy to warrant giving it a try.
Natural Cold Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t
- Colds and the flu are caused by viruses, which means antibiotics are not effective treatments and can actually lengthen the time you are sick
- There are many different ways you can shorten the amount of time you suffer with a virus and help prevent a recurrence
- Do not use over-the-counter remedies as they often contain substances now found to suppress your ability to fight the virus and will extend the time you suffer from a cold
17 Natural Home Remedies:
Meditation has significant positive effects on heart rate, brain function, stress reduction and blood pressure.4 Research also has demonstrated that mindful meditation, or the practice of purposefully paying attention, has lasting positive effects on brain function and your immune system.5
Imaging demonstrated an increase in activation in the left frontal region of the brain associated with lower anxiety, and blood work showed larger increases in antibody production in participants who meditated in the study. Meditation is an option for both treatment and prevention of colds.
If all your symptoms are above your neck, such as sneezing, sniffling and watery eyes, then breaking out in a sweat is generally considered safe. Your immune system functions better when you exercise regularly and is a good preventative measure.6
Walking, jogging, yoga and slow biking are among the best exercises when you have a cold, while endurance sports, team sports, weightlifting and exercising in the cold weather are among the worst.7
Exercise may help you feel better but may not shorten the length of your cold. If you are involved in strenuous exercise it depletes the energy needed to fight the virus and can actually make your symptoms worse.
Lack of sleep has been linked to a laundry list of medical disorders from a negative impact on your immune system to dementia.
Sleep has a strong regulatory influence on your immune system and promotes the influence of cytokines stimulating the interaction between antigen-presenting cells and T-helper cells necessary for your body to fight virus infections.8
When you’re sick (and even when you’re not), most people need between about eight hours of sleep a night and plenty of rest during the day.
4. Nasal Saline Rinse
Although researchers can only speculate how saline nasal washes are effective in treating and preventing virus infections and recurrences, the fact is they are effective.9 Use only sterile normal saline water in the rinse.
Tap water can increase the inflammatory response in the sinus passages and carry parasites that can infect your brain.
5. Hydrogen Peroxide
In 1928, Dr. Richard Simmons hypothesized that the cold virus entered your body through the ear canal and not the nose. His theory was dismissed by the medical community.
However, in 1938, German researchers had great success using hydrogen peroxide in the ear canal to treat colds and the flu.10 Although the data was vastly ignored by the medical community, I’ve treated many patients who experienced great results with this treatment.
You must start treatment in the first 24 hours to have a significant impact on reducing the length of the cold. You can watch more about how I’ve used this treatment to shorten colds and the flu in the video above.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar
Cold viruses increase the acidity of your body. To fight the virus, take a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar each day. This reduces the acidity and apple cider vinegar has acetic acid that helps prevent the growth of viruses.
7. Raw Honey
Honey has natural antibacterial and antiviral properties. But, you would have to overdose on the honey in order to achieve the effect of treating the virus in your body.
However, if you suffer from a sore throat with your cold, raw honey is as effective as cough syrup or cough drops. Remember that honey is a natural sugar and taken in large amounts will adversely affect your insulin and leptin levels.
Natural Home Remedies for Cough and Sore Throat
- Coughs and sore throats are often symptoms related to the common cold (but in some cases may be caused by bacterial infection)
- Natural remedies like hydrogen peroxide, vitamin C, and apple cider vinegar can help you relieve cold symptoms
- Other effective natural remedies include salt-water gargle, raw garlic, colloidal silver, and herbs
11 Sore Throat and Cough Remedies
1. Hydrogen Peroxide
At the first sign of a cold, which is often behind a sore throat, pour a capful of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide in each ear. This works remarkably well at resolving respiratory infections, like colds and flu.
You will hear some bubbling, which is completely normal, and possibly feel a slight stinging sensation. Wait until the bubbling and stinging subside (usually 5 to 10 minutes), then drain onto a tissue and repeat with the other ear.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is best known for its benefits for infectious diseases. Research published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that regular supplementation with vitamin C had a “modest but consistent effect in reducing the duration of common cold symptoms.”3
Kiwi fruits are exceptionally high in vitamin C, along with vitamin E, folate, polyphenols, and carotenoids. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a kiwifruit-packed diet reduced the duration and severity of upper respiratory tract infections symptoms in older individuals.4
Other foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, papaya, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
The antibacterial properties in apple cider vinegar may be useful for sore throats. Gargle with a mixture of about one-third cup of apple cider vinegar mixed with warm water, as needed.
4. Raw Garlic and Oil of Oregano
Garlic is packed with immune-boosting, anti-microbial compounds that may fight off viruses. Take a clove or two and chew them, letting the juice get into the back of your throat, then swallow. You can do the same with oil of oregano.
You can use lemons multiple ways to soothe a sore throat. Try cutting a lemon in half and sprinkling it with natural unprocessed salt and black pepper, then sucking it.
You can also make a potent “lemonade” out of fresh lemon juice, water, stevia, and cayenne pepper (this will help promote detoxification too).
6. Herbal Remedies
Herbs such as eucalyptus, peppermint, anise, slippery elm, and fennel (and their oils) act as cough suppressants. Sipping an herbal tea or using the essential oils (in a diffuser or hot compress for instance) may help relieve your cough, while Echinacea and sage may relieve a sore throat.
One study found an echinacea/sage throat spray worked just as well as a chlorhexidine/lidocaine spray in relieving sore throats among children.5
7. Licorice Root
Gargling with licorice root, a traditional sore throat remedy, may soothe your throat. Look for it in liquid extract form, which has been shown to lead to less severe post-operative sore throat.6
8. Raw Honey
Raw honey has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and may also boost your immune system. It has also been found to relieve symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection in children.7
9. Chicken Soup
Chicken soup made with homemade bone broth is excellent for speeding healing and recuperation from illness. You’ve undoubtedly heard the old adage that chicken soup will help cure a cold, and there’s scientific support 8 for such a statement.
For instance, it contains immune-stimulating carnosine to help fight off infection.
In addition to the anti-inflammatory benefits of bone broth, chicken contains a natural amino acid called cysteine, which can thin the mucus in your lungs and make it less sticky so you can expel it more easily.
Keep in mind that processed, canned soups will not work as well as the homemade version made from slow-cooked bone broth. If combating a cold, make the soup hot and spicy with plenty of pepper.
The spices will trigger a sudden release of watery fluids in your mouth, throat, and lungs, which will help thin down the respiratory mucus so it’s easier to expel. Black peppercorns also contain high amounts of piperine, a compound with fever-reducing and pain-relieving properties.
10. Salt Water Gargle
One of the simplest ways to soothe a sore throat is to gargle with natural salt, which helps kill bacteria, ease sore throat pain, and prevents upper respiratory tract infections.9,10 Try a solution of one-half teaspoon salt in one-half cup of warm water.
11. Colloidal Silver
Last but not least, colloidal silver (silver that’s suspended in a small amount of liquid) has long been used as an antimicrobial agent.
Researchers from Brigham Young University tested colloidal silver against five pathogens, including streptococci, and found it worked as well as commonly used antibiotics.
The researchers noted the silver solution “exhibits an equal or broader spectrum of activity than any one antibiotic tested” and could be “effectively used as an alternative to antibiotics.”11 In this case, the silver could be especially useful for cases of strep throat.
For more info, see: https://articles.mercola.com/cough-sore-throat-natural-home-remedies.aspx
Olives may be of some help here, but ginger is far better. It’s traditionally used to treat nausea, but also seems to work quite well against motion sickness. To make a tea, simply slice off a small amount of fresh ginger and steep it in hot water for 30 seconds up to several minutes. Ginger is very potent, so taste it at regular intervals of about 30 seconds—it can get very strong fast!
Alternatively, for a quicker but less elegant solution, just take a half teaspoon of the fresh ginger and finely dice it with a knife and swallow it whole. It has worked every time I have had the need for it. It probably is the most consistently effective herbal food that I have seen work nearly every time.
In addition to ginger, the University of Maryland Medical Center also suggests using peppermint and black horehound, which is actually a traditional remedy for motion sickness.
These herbs can be taken as:
- Dried extracts in the form of capsules, powders, or teas
- Liquid extracts or tinctures
To make a tea using dried herb, put about one teaspoon of the herb into a tea strainer and place it in a cup of hot water. Avoid adding sugar. If you absolutely need some sweetness, try a couple of drops of liquid stevia instead.
Another excellent method that you can do whenever and wherever motion sickness strikes, is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It balances your subtle energy system and calms your motion sensors, and this will calm your symptoms of motion sickness and allow you to finally enjoy the pleasures of travel.
The devil is in the details when it comes to the recommendation to use yoghurt to combat bad breath, because most of the yoghurt you find today is loaded with sugar and made from pasteurized milk. You do NOT want to use these commercially available yoghurts as they are more likely to do more harm than good.
Only use traditionally fermented yogurt, such as kefir made from raw milk with no added sugar. Another alternative is to consume traditionally fermented foods (such as natto or tempeh), or take a high quality probiotic like Complete Probiotics.
How is it that these types of foods and bacteria can help against bad breath?
Because halitosis, or bad breath, is typically caused by systemic diseases, gastrointestinal and/or upper respiratory tract disorders, and microbial metabolism from your tongue, saliva or dental plaque—all of which are indicators of systemic unbalance, which can be remedied with probiotics in the form of an oral supplement or fermented foods.
In addition to reseeding the beneficial bacteria in your gut, I highly recommend limiting the primary fertilizer for the bacteria that cause bad breath, namely SUGAR and grains that rapidly break down to sugar. That automatically means cutting down on processed foods (which are high in both grains and sugars/high fructose corn syrup), as they cause bad odor-causing bacteria to grow out of control.
Beware that mouthwashes are only effective against bad breath caused by intraoral factors. Gargling and swishing can’t help you much if your problem stems from an imbalance of bacteria in your intestinal tract, for example.
Definitely do NOT use sugar for hiccups. There are many better options that do not involve spiking your insulin.
One interesting method that seems to work is to have someone hold down the tragus of your ear to close off your ear canal while you drink a FULL glass of water. This has been the single most effective remedy I have ever used for hiccups. It is the rare occasion where it doesn’t work.
A really simple, inexpensive way to relieve the hallmark itch of eczema is to put a saltwater compress over the itchy area. You’ll want to use a high quality natural salt, such as Himalayan salt. Simply make a solution with warm water, soak a compress, and apply the compress over the affected area. You’ll be amazed to find that the itching will virtually disappear!
You also want to make sure your skin is optimally hydrated. Skin creams are rarely the answer here, but rather you’ll want to hydrate your skin from the inside out by consuming high quality, animal-based omega-3 fats in your diet, such as krill oil. I also find it helpful to include a bit of gamma linoleic acid, typically in the form of primrose oil, as this works remarkably well for eczema. Products like “krill for women” are good for both sexes for this condition as they have both fatty acids.
(Plant-based omega-3s like flax and hemp seed, although decent omega-3 sources in general, will not provide the clinical benefit you need to reduce inflammation and swelling in your skin.)
Additionally, food allergies play an enormous role in eczema. In my experience, the most common offending agent is wheat, or more specifically, gluten. Avoiding wheat and other gluten-containing grains is therefore a wise first step.
Avoiding grains will also reduce the amount of sugar in your system, which will normalize your insulin levels and reduce any and all inflammatory conditions you may have, including inflammation in your skin. Other common allergens include milk and eggs. I recommend you do an elimination trial with these foods as well. You should see some improvement in about a week, sometimes less, after eliminating them from your diet if either of them is causing you trouble.
Last but not least, vitamin D in the form of sun exposure can be your best friend when dealing with eczema and other skin conditions, such as psoriasis.
Ideally, you’ll want to get your vitamin D from appropriate sunshine exposure because UVB radiation on your skin will not only metabolize vitamin D, but will also help restore optimal skin function. High amounts of UVB exposure directly on affected skin – but not so much to cause sunburn! – will greatly improve the quality of your skin.
If you can’t get sufficient amounts of sun during the winter months, a high quality safe tanning bed can suffice. A safe tanning bed will provide the optimized forms of UVA and UVB wavelengths, without dangerous EMF exposure.
If you’re prone to headaches, I strongly advise you to evaluate your lifestyle to determine the root cause. There are many types of headaches, each with its own set of triggers.
For general headaches that do not appear to be due to tension or poor posture, I’ve found that avoiding wheat, grains, sugar, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, and all fluids but water seems to be particularly effective. Those suffering from recurrent migraines would also do well to heed this advice. Just remember to stay the course, as dietary changes do take some time to work.
Migraines are also another common type of headache and it has been my experience that artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, trigger them in many people. So avoid all diet products.
Two methods that offer more immediate relief include intravenous magnesium and the Emotional Freedom Technique. EFT in particular is usually very effective for relieving pain of all kinds, oftentimes removing your pain in as little as a few minutes.
Upper Respiratory Infections and Sore Throat
There’s a mountain of evidence showing that vitamin D plays a key role in your immune system, so maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is your number one defense against infections of all kinds, including upper respiratory infections.
The wintertime deficiency of vitamin D (which your body produces in response to sunlight) has been implicated in the seasonal increase in colds and flu, and a number of studies have suggested an association between low blood levels of vitamin D and a higher risk of respiratory infections. For detailed guidelines on optimizing your vitamin D levels, please see my article Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.
Another really simple and inexpensive treatment that is surprisingly effective against upper respiratory infections is hydrogen peroxide.
Many patients at my Natural Health Center have had remarkable results in treating colds and flu within 12 to 14 hours when administering a few drops of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into each ear. (A bottle of hydrogen peroxide in 3 percent solution is available at any drug store for a couple of dollars or less.) You will hear some bubbling, which is completely normal, and possibly feel a slight stinging sensation. Wait until the bubbling and slight stinging subside (usually 5 to 10 minutes), then drain onto a tissue and repeat with the other ear.
To treat a sore throat, few remedies are as tried-and-true as honey. Just make sure you use raw honey, as the vast majority of honey for sale in the United States is highly processed or refined, which, like most other refined foods, can promote disease and damage your health rather than help.
A simple recipe using all natural ingredients, such as raw honey, spices and herbs, can be found at the bottom of this previous article.
Regular Exercise Will Help Slash Your Chance of a Cold by 50%
WPHL offers a list of ways to fight a cold that are more natural and more affordable than pricey, over-the-counter medicines. They include:
The inner bark of the Slippery Elm, when mixed with water, it becomes a slick gel. This gel is rich with antioxidants and coats your throat, stomach lining and intestines.
Making a tea from the herb echinacea may help fight the common cold. Goldenseal tea helps treat respiratory tract infections, eye infections and even yeast infections. Hot ginger or elderberry tea can help soothe a sore throat.
If you have a sore throat, try gargling with a honey mixture.
Nasal Saline Rinse
A natural nasal saline irrigates your nose and helps clear thick mucus and relieve pressure from your sinuses.
Steam can moisturize your nasal passages and will help the pressure from your sinuses.
White and Cider Vinegar
Wearing a pair of cotton socks soaked in white vinegar is an old, natural remedy that is still used today to reduce a fever.
White willow is a natural anti-inflammatory and fever reducing remedy.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken noodle soup has been medically proven to help cure a cold or fever. It is most effective if the soup is made with actual chicken bones in the broth.
Here’s one folk remedy to cure a cough or chest cold — chop raw pieces of garlic and mix it with olive oil. Let the mixture sit for a half hour, and then rub the mixture on the bottoms of your feet and cover with socks. The garlic will be absorbed by your skin.
Ginseng can help cure a cold or the flu, as well as prevent future colds if taken as a daily supplement.