13 Herbal Cold Remedies

These culinary herbs and ornamental plants are delicious, beautiful and might even help you get over a cold faster.

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Next time you have the sniffles head to your garden. You may just find some needed relief. Several common culinary herbs and popular garden ornamentals are often used for their role in traditional applications to perhaps ease the symptoms of the common cold. If you are preparing remedies from backyard flora, make sure you have a positive identification of the plants you are using. Mom’s homemade soup is good for you for a reason. Many of the herbs used to flavor our favorite comfort foods serve the dual purpose of easing our discomforts as well. Interestingly, some common landscape plants, and even the weeds, can help too.

Editor's Note: The content of this article is provided for general informational purposes only. Be cautioned that some wild plants can be poisonous, and poisonous plants sometimes resemble edible plants which often grow side by side. It is the responsibility of the reader, or the reader’s parent or guardian, to correctly identify and use the edible plants described. HGTV does not guarantee the accuracy of the content provided in this article and is not liable for any injury resulting from use of any information provided. This article is not intended as medical advice. Always consult a professional healthcare provider before trying any form of therapy or if you have any questions or concerns about a medical condition. The use of natural products can be toxic if misused, and even when suitably used, certain individuals could have adverse reactions.


Garlic in particular, and the onion family in general, contain a broad range of vitamins, minerals and other compounds that give them their flavor and have been discussed for their potential medicinal properties as well. Garlic has been said to clear head and chest congestion, and it has been cited for its potential anti-infective properties that can assist your body’s immune system.


Ginger has strong support from herbalists as a treatment for wide ranging health issues. Fresh ginger root has been recommended by some for treatment of coughs and colds in particular, as well as its possible help in fighting maladies of the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems.


Horseradish is well known for its ability to clear the sinuses. Its essential oil is nearly identical to mustard oil in its pungent properties. As a diuretic, it helps flush toxins from the system; and it helps to break fever by increasing perspiration.


Oregano is a warming, antiseptic herb that can potentially help in soothing cough, cold, flu and minor fever when taken internally. When used externally some say it can help relieve chest congestion and stiff muscles.


Peppermint cools the mucous membranes and some use it as a decongestant.


Thyme’s essential oil, thymol, is often used in herbal cough and cold remedies, more than anywhere else. It is valued for its reported antiseptic properties and for its relief of congestion and spasms.

Chili Pepper

Chili peppers, because of the capsaicin which gives them their heat, have been used to stimulate metabolism and detoxify the body as perspiration increases.


Some claim that elderberry flowers can relieve cold and flu symptoms, and reduce fever. Juice from the berries is a common ingredient in a treatment for respiratory infection.


Chamomile, while not directly affecting the cold symptoms, can help you rest. Chamomile is mildly sedative and has been used by its advocates mainly for its potential ability to treat insomnia and digestive disorders.


Nettle, if handled carefully while harvesting and preparing, is said to be useful for clearing toxins from the body and potential ability to reduce allergy symptoms. The leaves can be cooked like spinach, after which the “stings” are gone. Nettle is high in iron.


Rose hips are the mature rose fruit and are very high in vitamin C. They are often used by some natural healing advocates for their possible ability to fight a cough and cold.


Yarrow is often used in combination with elderflower and peppermint for its possible ability to treat colds in the early stages. It also may help to reduce blood pressure. Used externally, some have claimed it is helpful in stopping bleeding.

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