15 Natural Cold Remedies to Heal Faster—No Medications Needed

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Milo Mcdowell 2198 1 1080X675 1 | 15 Natural Cold Remedies To Heal Faster—No Medications Needed

Cold remedies are a dime a dozen.

From Tylenol and Benadryl commercials, to cough drops, chicken noodle soup and orange juice, we’ve all heard ways to “boost” our immune system at one time or another. However, many of these cold remedies may actually be making your cold and flu worse (not better). Check out these natural cold remedies instead….

Dealing with Cold & Flu Season

“Cold and flu” season go hand-in-hand with fall and winter time.

But have you ever questioned WHY?

Why do we tend to get more colds and flu bugs in the winter months, than spring or summertime? Does cold weather do something funky to the immune system?

Answer: Look to your gut.

Colds & Flus Start in the Gut

80-percent of your immune system is produced in your gut.

If your gut is unhealthy, then you can bet your bottom dollar your immune system is not on it’s “A-game.”

Considering that the fall and winter months are FILLED with holiday happenings (ie. comfort foods and other snacks we don’t always eat year round), it’s no wonder our gut bugs also take a “hit.”

From football game day pizza and BBQ, to Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and creamed casseroles, Christmas cookies, cheese ball appetizers at New Year’s bashes, wining and dining, and Super Bowl Sunday chips & dip, “healthy eating” is often not thought about until the new year’s.

Couple this with lack of routine that often happens during these months as well, and “stress” itself can be a driver of imbalanced gut health.

What to do about it?

Ironically, many people resort to over-the-counter medications, like Tylenol, Airborne or Tamiflu, or “cold-fighting” foods like additive-rich Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup or sugar-filled processed orange juice to “cure their cold”—only to make things worse (in the long run).

These remedies actually FEED unhealthy gut bacteria—don’t rid of it.

An alternative?

Instead of suppressing symptoms with medications or antibiotics that don’t really heal the underlying (gut imbalance) issues, consider these 15 natural cold remedies instead (intended to help cure the gut and boost immune function).

15 Natural Cold Remedies to Heal Faster—No Medications Needed

Cold Remedies

Forget the Tylenol Cold & Flu, Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup & sugary cough drops.

The gut is the gateway to health. Since more than 80% of your immune system is housed in our gut, what do you think happens when our gut bugs aren’t happy? We are more prone to illness. Boost your gut with a double dose of soil based probiotics when facing a cold, flu or allergy attack. Recommendations: Primal Probiotics, Megaspore Biotic or Primal Defense Ultra (Garden of Life).

Apple Cider Vinegar

Similar to how probiotics boost healthy bacteria in your gut, Apple Cider Vinegar also boosts gut health by boosting stomach acid—essential for a proper functioning gut and digestion. Add a spoonful to 2-4 ounces of water and swig with your meals.

Oregano Oil

An essential oil that is considered to be antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiseptic, antiviral and immune stimulating. Like the fresh herb, Oregano Oil has very high amounts of antioxidants. It is often used internally during illness, and externally for skin infections (including yeast) though it should be diluted with a dab of coconut oil before use. Buy as an essential oil  and dilute 1 drop with 1 drop coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil and take under the tongue.  To get the full benefits of oregano oil, use a dosage of 50-100 mg oregano oil 4x per day.

Castor Oil

The “windex” of all things wellness, castor oil has the ability to “speed up” healing by increasing white blood cells and the count of T-11 cells (a type of special white blood cells that act like antibodies) produced within the body’s lymphocytes that help kill viruses, fungi, bacteria and cancer cells. Rub the oil on pulse and sinus points, and the back of the neck.


A natural anti-inflammatory agent for calming the inflammatory response in the body. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is anti-viral and anti-fungal. Use a Liposomal  Curcumin for a supplement formula, or add turmeric spice to recipes, like Turmeric Tea, Turmeric Milk, Anti-inflammatory Meatballs or Turmeric Ginger Carrot Soup.


Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin. When garlic is crushed or chewed, this compound turns into allicin (with a c), the main active ingredient in garlic that boosts the disease-fighting response of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses.

How to “take” it? Garlic can be crushed, chewed and/or cooked into food. Crush or slice garlic before you consume it to increase the allicin content, and add to a spoonful of apple sauce, or add into dishes at meals. Bonus: Try Wellness Formula. A power-packed multi-vitamin with a base of herbs, including garlic, in one place.

Vitamin C

Absorbic acid, of Vitamin C, has long been touted as an “immune booster.” Add a little more to the diet through citrus, strawberries and spinach during illness, and short term supplementation via 1000 mg of Liposomal Vitamin C (Empirical Labs, Seeking Health). Liposomal formulas are more absorbable.


An essential oil and food linked to decreased cold and flu duration due to antibacterial and anti-infectious qualities. Use organic dried black elderberries (1, 2 ) to consume whole, or make a homemade syrup with this recipe:

Elderberry Cold “Medicine”


2/3 cup dried black elderberries (about 3 ounces)

3.5 cups of water

2 Tbsp fresh or dried ginger root

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp clove powder

1 cup raw honey


Pour water into medium saucepan. Add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey). Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45-60 minutes until liquid is reduced by almost half. Remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Mash berries using a spoon. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl. Discard elderberries and let liquid cool. Add 1 cup of honey and stir well.

Essential Oils

Natural healing agents to infuse into your home and air, like a natural vaporizer. Reach for peppermint, lemon, lavender, eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove and grapefruit.

Homemade “Cough Syrup”

Mix 2-3 tsp. raw honey with 1-2 ounces lemon juice. Dilute in water if needed.

Bone Broth

Move over Campbells, REAL bone broth is packed with antioxidants and gut-healing compounds to support all around immune boosting. Order it if you don’t want to make, such as Ossogoodbones , Fond Bone Broth  & BonaFide Provisions.


The most life-giving and universal healing “supplement” of all. The body uses water, particularly during times of illness, to hydrate and flush toxins out of the body. Reach for a clean filtered source (on tap), and infuse with citrus (orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit) for an extra Vitamin C boost).

Green Juices

Get your greens (and antioxidants) one to fight free radicals or make a green smoothie to ensure extra nutrients from an otherwise lost appetite. For juice, buy cold pressed greens https://drinkdailygreens.com/green-juices with no more than 1 fruit, or just lemon/lime as the “sweetener.” For green smoothies: Mix coconut milk or water with spinach, 1 fruit (choose: 1/2 green apple, frozen strawberries, orange slices or chunks of pineapple), cucumber, celery and parsley or cilantro and sip up!

Anti-inflammatory Foods

May seem like a no-brainer, but times of illness are particularly crucial for gut-loving and immune boosting foods including:

  • Citrus & Berries
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Ginger, peeled, raw or powder
  • Turmeric Spice
  • Cinnamon
  • Greens (raw and cooked)
  • Cruciferous Veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
  • Coconut Oil
  • Sustainable Proteins (pastured chicken, grass-fed meats)
  • Wild caught salmon
  • Bone broth
  • Natural Herbs (oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary)
  • Fermented foods
  • Pre-biotic Foods (green-tipped plantains, bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes/sweet potatoes, cooked and cooled Jasmine white rice, artichokes, onions, leeks)


“Starve a cold” by  giving the body ample time to heal during sleep and rest (when it recovers most).

These may seem like no-brainers, but while you’re at “boosting your immune system, make sure these culprits are far away:

Sugar & refined grains: These foods stress the adrenals (stress hormone production), feed yeast, and increase imbalanced gut bacteria.

Chemical additives: GMO’s, artificial sweeteners, food dyes, and other toxins stress the liver and the immune system.

Hydrogenated oils & fried foods: Promote inflammation and decrease immunity and hormonal health. Nerves and brain function are also affected.
Repetitious eating: The foods that one becomes sensitive to are usually those eaten on a daily basis. A simple rotation diet minimizes stress to the immune system from hidden allergies. Try eliminating common allergens such as wheat and other grains, dairy, corn, soy, citrus fruits, chocolate, coffee, and soda.
Processed and packaged foods: These foods are devoid of real nutrition. Processed and packaged foods create nutritional deficiencies, diminishing one’s health and vitality.

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