A Few Natural Cough and Cold Remedies

So, those of you who are my friends on Facebook know that we’ve been battling a virus in our house over the past few days.

At first I thought it was strep-throat, only because I’d just learned we’d been exposed to it and then Titus got sick like two days later. But thank goodness it’s only a good old fashioned cold.

The kids all had fevers over 103* the first 24 hours they had it. Now it’s developed into a cough. I have become more and more leery of giving Tylenol and/or Motrin for fevers, after doing some research into the effects of this, so I’ve been doing everything else I can to keep the kids comfortable:

  • Cold wash rag on head, (or under arms if they’ll let me)
  • Lots of ice water
  • Making sure the kids aren’t overdressed (ie: sweat pants in bed)
  • Short, lukewarm baths (though they don’t particularly enjoy this, they feel better once they get out)
  • Belladonna tablets- though I did try this, it didn’t help to reduce the fever.
  • Rest. Rest. Rest.

I’ve also been giving the kids colloidal silver. This is our first time ever using it and I have to admit I was a little hesitant and a bit nervous even giving it to them, but after reading TONS and TONS of articles online about the benefits and safety of colloidal silver, I thought it would be a good thing to try.

I also got some Manuka honey to give to Jada and Ty. Even though Xia is over a year old now, I’m still hesitant to give her honey. Infants, though rare, can develop infant botulism from eating honey, and I’m scared to take a chance yet.

For those who don’t know about Manuka honey, it is made from bees which have collected their pollen from the same plant that we get Tea Tree Oil from. We know what an amazing germ destroying essential oil tea tree oil may be.

Well, Manuka honey boasts the same benefits, only it can be taken internally as well as used topically. Not all Manuka is the same though, it must have a UMF of 16 or higher to have true healing properties. I’ve been giving the kids a teaspoon of honey a couple of times a day, 30 minutes before eating.

I also just started a peroxide treatment tonight. I wish I’d started doing this right off the bat as it works much better if you start as soon as symptoms appear (as with any treatment, I suppose).

What you do is drop several drops of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide into one ear, and let it sit for several minutes, until the bubbling stops. It feels really weird, and the kids freaked out at first, but it doesn’t hurt, it’s just a strange fizzing sensation.

Let it drain out and then do the other ear. Repeat this treatment every few hours throughout the day until it doesn’t bubble anymore when you do it. Supposedly, this treatment alone will knock a cold out of you within a day, if caught immediately.

Ty’s cough is pretty bad, so I’m gonna make a batch of this homemade cough syrup and give it to him throughout the day, as needed:

Onion Cough Syrup

  • 1 medium-large onion
  • 1 cup honey (or sugar if you don’t have honey, though honey is best)

Peel and chop the onion, and place the slices in a small bowl or glass jar. As you fill the jar, layer the onion with the honey or sugar, topping off with honey. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and allow to sit on counter overnight. Juices from the onion and honey will mix and form a pleasant syrup; strain the onion pieces out. Take 1 tsp syrup every 4 hours, or as needed.

I haven’t tried this one yet, but I’ll let you know what I think!

*Update– So, I’ve been using the onion cough syrup today. I don’t know if I’ve used it enough to be able to tell, but I haven’t really noticed it helping much.

I also made a chamomile tea with garlic and honey. My poor kids, I’m subjecting them to all kinds of unusual things!! But you know what, they’re getting better!!

I’m really wishing I had some oregano oil, too. But Whole Foods had it for like $30… way too much on top of all of the other stuff we’ve bought. So, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it on sale later.

Oh yeah, one more thing I’d like to try if the coughing persists through the night- slathering a homemade vapor rub (with eucalyptus essential oil) on the bottom of the kids’ feet and covering them with socks.

Maybe a chopped onion by the bedside as well?

So many things to try!! Of course, I’ll do the Neti Pot, but the kids can’t handle that yet.

Anybody have any other old fashioned cough and cold remedies that you like? Tell me what works for you!

41 thoughts on “A Few Natural Cough and Cold Remedies”

  1. I just found your site, so I am posting comments like crazy. You can use a couple drops of sweet oil (available at drug stores) and put a piece of cotton in your ear. I have done this all my life (another one from my Mom)

  2. I have used the “onion cough medicine” for my whole life. My mom, grandmother, great-grandmother and so taught this down the line! It’s a wonderful “NATURAL” remedy!

  3. Dr Mercola just had a preview of a documentary about earthing, everyone should check it out very cool stuff how we take in free electrons from the earth threw our feet. Its Gods awesome design. Everything works together for our good:) God uses the simple to dumbfound those who think they are wise.He is Amazing,all honor and glory to the lord Almighty

  4. I WOULD NOT recommend Vicks Vapo Rub or any other product that uses Menthol Crystals or Petroleum for that matter!
    I ended up making my own Mentho Rub Lotion with my own homemade lotion, eucalyptus essential oil, & cedarwood essential oil. It helps to relieve cough & open airways. I would also run a humidifier with the cedarwoos essential oil in it too as it helps to loosen mucus & improve breathing.
    Lots of warm tea….And yes, Vitamin C!
    I take 1000mg/day, along with 1/2 a lemon juiced into an 8oz mug of warm water each morning! It is an immune system booster & helps eliminate mucus!

  5. Hi,I just found your blog.I have already been glad I did. I am also trying to lead a simple life.Thus having more time for my family. I have been making a simple juice every winter that my friends and family,always ask me the recipe for. It is very soothing.It’s called “Hot Wassil”
    1 lg can pineapple juice
    2 c orange juice
    1/4 c lemon jc.
    2 qt.apple cider
    3/4 c honey (sugar if you don’t have any)
    3-4 cinnamon sticks
    8-10 whole cloves
    put all in a crock pot and serve hot!
    This hot drink soothes coughs and sore throats. Also is yummy anytime.
    I received this from a friend years ago. I have never seen it again.

  6. Hey Sandra- the reason putting the vapo rub on the bottoms of the feet is because the skin on the feet absorbs essential oils much faster and better than anywhere else on the body. I also use it on the chest and neck. But the skin of the feet and hands is much better.

  7. I’ve been boiling parsley, ginger root, radishes(crushed) garlic(crushed) `orange peel or` lemon peel, fresh lemon.and caradoom seeds the little black ones i made a tea with it and added honey for taste and its working my cough is not so bad anymore i drink it through out the day . I will try the vicks under my feet and the onion garlic cough syrup.

  8. my daughter was just sick with strep and high fevers like 104
    Although I would like to treat my family at home I have alot to research and discover before I do this. I guess I kinda wonder whats wrong with cough syrup or amoxicillan? Amoxicillian healed my daughter in just a day or so.

  9. Kendra, you Belladonna will only work on some occasions. With single homeopathic meds, you need to rely more heavily on the personality, behavior, etc. than just giving a certain remedy no matter what. *Easy Homeopathy* is a great book that I highly recommend for those who would like to use homeopathic remedies for their family.

    Also, I can’t recommend enough using a garlic poultice for coughs, chest congestion, sore throats, etc.

  10. Jessica,

    Wow, an honest doctor 🙂 And yet, it’s still standard procedure to offer the patient Robitussin. What’s up with that anyways? Actually, I’ve had a pediatrician tell me the same thing about cough meds for kids. It’s nice to hear this stuff coming from the professionals. If only they could offer an herbal solution!

  11. One thing you could try instead of Vicks is menthol essential oil right under the nose. It does the same thing. Another thing we do for colds in this house is bulk up on Vit C as soon as we notice a cold. The first signs of a cold we give 1000 mg and then 500 mg for 3 days (that’s for adults, do less for kids, call your ped to find out what they recommend). It doesn’t knock the cold out of them but definitely lessens! My grandmother also used to dip rags in rubbing alcohol and place it on our foreheads when we had a fever. As far as I remember it always worked.

  12. Of course all people react differently to different cures…

    Mr. D is not able to use any over-the-counter cold remedies.
    A couple of things that have helped him through colds are:

    Quercetin – Fennel is a good source and the kids might like the licorice flavor. Apples with the skin are also a good source… maybe an applesauce made with the skins and blended so they are not too visible and chunky.
    He also takes vitamin e which is supposed to help with O2 absorbtion, but be very careful with vitamins as a little goes a long way… esp. with children.
    He also sits up a little at night so the phlegm doesn’t run down the back of his throat and cause irritation and coughing.

    Things that help me are camomille tea with a little honey and lemon.
    Avoiding milk and dairy products since they cause phlegm.
    Lots and LOTS of liquids in any form. I like especially juice that has papaya since that is also supposed to inhibit histamine production, but tastes really good and is soothing on a sore throat. Iced juices are good if I have a fever. I would imagine the calories in juice aren’t too good for me, but when you are really sick you don’t have much of an appetite anyway. Children might benefit from those calories to keep up energy levels.
    Swishing salt water in the mouth and gargling is good for sore throat too although the children will probably think that it’s yucky.

    I have a friend who says tea with a little honey and vinegar is good.
    Another friend says echinacea in capsules or tea is good.

    I’m not sure about those last two, but the other stuff is successful with us. We recently were both sick and got over it within a week. I have just a little tiny bit of congestion, but nothing serious and absolutely no coughing. Histamines have a job to do in the body but are overproduced to fight off the “invaders”.

    I hope you all feel much better soon and find something that will work for you.

  13. I have a very very old remedy, not one I have tried or even attempt to try but I thought you would get a smile from it, just as I do every time I hear the story.

    Dh’s gram is 86 yrs old in less than a month she will be 87, when she was a little girl her father was a coal mine inspector and they lived very close to a coal mining town/operation in the hills of Tennesee. There were no stores, except the company store, there was an old timey dr but he traveled here and there and was not available all the time, so dh’s gram’s family made due with hm remedies.

    When she or her 4 brothers and sisters would get a chest cold, their grandmother would cook a iron skillet full of onions and then tie them in a piece of flannel and the children were made to sleep with this poultice on their chests all night, she said it smelled horrible but it worked.

    When they had any ailment whatsoever they got a teaspoon of castor oil mixed with orange juice- to this day she won’t drink orange juice. Said it was good for nothing all it ever did was give ya the runs, she said what good are the runs when you have a head cold? lol

    For coughs that kept them up at night, her father would get a gallon of grain alcohol- I’m not sure but I am guessing it was moonshine the way she tells it, anyway he would take an empty gallon jug and put rock candy in it, then pour the grain alcohol over it and let it sit, once the candy was all disolved they mixed it up well and the children got a teaspoon to calm coughs. Shocked and Amazed I asked her once if it really worked and she told me she guessed it did, they always were able to sleep, I joked and I said yeah but was it because you had stopped coughing or was it because you were tipsy, she laughed and said she didn’t rightly know she was just a child but it helped them sleep through the night so she assumed it worked and they had to do what they could do with what they had, she said she reckoned it wasn’t all that bad for them, all 5 of the children lived through it and were able to tell the tale.

    Anyway some cute stories with some old time slang thrown in just they way she tells it I thought you might enjoy it!!

    • Dana,

      I LOVED your story! Thanks so much for sharing. How sweet! I have actually heard of others doing the cooked onion in a bag around your neck thing… and I know it was common to mix strong alcohol with other stuff for a cough medicine. Actually, I believe I have some remedies like these in one of my Amish cookbooks! Thank you for the giggle this morning 🙂 I love stuff like this, and I could hear her telling it like she was here with me.

  14. Hi Kendra,

    It’s been a while since I’ve commented, but I’m still reading and enjoying your posts as usual! My 2 month old has just developed this cough too. It’s so sad to hear such a little guy sound like that. I wanted to share a couple of things from our experience. Hydrogen peroxide in the ear, yes. And here’s an alternative to the vicks (which really does work on your feet bc just like with lotion etc, it soaks right into our bodies but there’s something more potent about putting it on your feet) Heritage Oils (and I’m sure others) make an essential oil called Mom’s Remedy and it’s a vicks alternative. I mix it with a little coconut oil or olive oil and rub on their chests and bottom of their feet. I have also mixed it with water to put in a steamer. It’s great!

  15. Hey Girl! 😀 You can make a tea from wild cherry bark if you have any on hand. It is what we have been using and it is working very well. I also used oil of oregano, which you mentioned, but I only had some on hand b/c a friend gave it to me. Yarrow is also good for a fever, and you can use that in tea or tincture form. It works RIGHT AWAY too! We have had the FLU this week, and this is what we have done. It has worked great so far! 🙂 Hope you guys are feeling well again! Love and blessings to all of you! 🙂 –Sara

  16. One of the best things you can do to stay healthy is to give up sodas.
    Why? Because the carbonation suppresses the immune system. People think it is the sugar, and although not helpful, it is the “fizz” that is the problem. One soda can suppress the immune system 8 to 10 hrs. It’s just not worth it during cold and flu season.

    Drinking water and good hand washing go a long way in staying well.

  17. We have started going to the chiropractor over the past few years. My oldest son got an ear infection last year and I did not want to put him on antibiotics again. So, I went right to the chiropractor. We started putting Garlic Mulien (SP?) drops in his ears. We also got “Mangosteen” at the health store. It was expensive, but, those with the chiropractic got rid of his ear infection with no antibiotics.

  18. Putting stuff on your feet is a practice called “reflexology”. And as with all natural treatments – there are a lot of “quackery” claims about it – e^en on Wikapedia. Used correctly it can be a great tool, but much of what is out there is just cheep imitation of the proper stuff (like the contro^ersy o^er echinacia – it depended on how fresh, what part, and which ^ariety you used as to whether it really worked or not).

    Some stuff works just because of the placebo affect.

    Reflexology with Aromatherapy works partly because the feet are co^ered – just putting any oil or lotion on your feet and co^ering them will help.

    Partly it works because of the massage – the ner^es end in your hands and feet, and are highly concentrated in those 2 areas. By massaging the ner^e endings, you can alle^iate pain in many other places of the body because it relie^es the stress.

    Using essential oils helps if you get good quality ones – don’t skimp on them and end up with fragrance oils, same with herbs – you want them fresh, not poorly stored for years. Hence, I don’t buy the night time bath from anyone other than Johnson and I don’t buy anything other than ^icks.

    The essential oils use the ner^e endings to help diffuse the key chemicals in the oils to the lymph nodes. (At least that is how I understand it). My baby has no idea what a placebo is … but she sure sleeps better on nights I remember to ^icks (baby ^icks) her feet if she is not feeling well.

    We also use Hylands, BBs (hydrastis for our ears and ^etrum album for sick tummies are our most used), and Teas. O^er the years, I’^e accumulated a whole arsenal of natural remedies. Some work better on one person and some on another.

    My niece li^es with us and I take care of her full time, she had the weakest immune system when we got her. But this last cold (how I dread her colds), I used Ester C powder – Calcium + D – once a day in her drinking water along with a C1000. She sipped it all day long, added to a 32 oz water bottle. I was shocked when in less than 6 days, her cold was gone!

    I’m still learning, I ha^e a long way to go before I would consider myself good at this stuff.

    Sometimes I remember what works best, and sometimes I draw a blank because it has been so long! We aren’t all identical, so what works with one person, might not work at all with another person.

    And I’^e been using my oregano oil now for 5 years, it’s almost gone – but I figure $30 for something I’^e been able to use for 5 years is pretty amazing.

    And while I’^e ne^er quite figured out tubes … they do damage your ear, so you wouldn’t want to really put anything down your ear later. I would hesitate to try anything.

    And my midwife says to use breast milk on the little babies. Seems to work!

  19. For earaches: saute white or yellow onion slices in a pan-let cool slightly–wrap in a wash cloth and place behind ear–check to make sure it is not too hot first–you can reheat as needed

  20. Garlic is the BEST for ears. I just used it last night on my little girl who had an earache. I crushed a clove of garlic into a few TBSPs of olive oil, warmed it and put it in the ear. (I didn’t put any of the pieces of garlic in the ear, but I know that some people stuck the whole clove in) I always put a cotton ball in on top.

  21. oh please do not do hydrogen peroxide if you ever had tubes in the ears! Take it from personal experience!! I had an earache maybe about 10 yrs ago and my husband said his mom used to put it in his ears to help the infection and also it would break up the extra wax. I didnt hesitate to try it…oh goodness, the pain was unbearable. I really thought I was going to have to go the the hospital. I hadnt had tubes in my ears since I was a kid, but there must have been a little hole still from where they were. I am cringing just thinking about the pain. Hope this deters anyone with tubes!!

  22. Hey Kendra, great advice. I did want to mention you may want to check more out on Hydrogen Peroxide. I read that it kills cells, good and bad. So you may not want to put that inside your body. I remember getting a big NO when I asked my Doctor about doing that for Elijah (albeit, they are doctors and tend to not lean on anything natural and Elijah also had tubes). Just something I thought you may want to know and consider.

    As far as the vicks…..we have done that several times. And as of two years ago (when I bought it) you could buy a vicks that is age appropriate for younger children. (i think it was over 6 months and above).

    • Liz,

      I’m a pretty big fan of Dr. Mercola (a leading natural doctor), and he’s the one who highly recommends the peroxide treatment.

      Since you mentioned the tubes though, and so did Jessica, my grandma has had tubes very often, and she went into the doctors office and they did peroxide in her ears, and she said it was the worst pain she’s ever experienced in her life. The nurse didn’t know what to do, had never had a reaction like that, and ran to get a solution to counteract the reaction. I thought it may have just been her ’cause she’s had MAJOR problems with her ears her entire life, but maybe this goes for a lot of people who have had tubes in their ears. Seems like that nurse would have known that though, if it were standard…

  23. I do alot of herbal stuff. I make an herbal tincture with Echinachia, nettle and peppermint, every winter and at the first sign of any kind of sickness, or exposure, I start giving it to them . All my kids LOVE it. I’m working on some posts about it on my blog. Also check out this post I did on GOOT.
    I highly recommend that also. For coughs, I make a tincture of wild cherry bark and it works well. You could make a tea with it as well.

  24. Puritan Pride sells Oregano Oil in little gel caps, not sure if they sell it as a liquid or not. Zinc also helps boost your immune system. And the good old stand by of chicken soup works well also.

  25. If you are worried about using Vicks on young kids they do make a baby vicks that is way milder but works great. We always used it on my babies until they were old enough to be ok with the regular.

  26. I read recently of garlic oil slathered on the feet before bed and covered with socks. Haven’t tried it yet…but they say it works!

  27. This is one that people laugh at but it works !!!

    When my sisters, brother and I were young, we would get real bad cases of croup and coughing. My Mama would tie a black silk ribbon around our necks overnight. It was not tight, but close to the neck. When we would wake up in the morning, no more croup or coughing.

    I don’t know if it attracts heat around the throat area or what. After I had kids, I went to my local fabric store and purchased a yard of black silk ribbon.

  28. Ive always known that vicks salve works well when used, but I wonder how it works when rubbed on the feet? thats strange… ( what I mean is, what actually makes it work through feet that leads to breathing easier?}

    • I don’t know Sandra, it is strange. It reminds me of our trip to Honduras a couple of years ago. I was asking a native there about their natural remedies, and one of them was to strap coconut leaves to the feet at night to remove a fever. They swear by it. I don’t know what it is about feet though.

  29. Hope you guys get feeling better soon! We’ve been sick on and off all winter it seems. So ready for spring!

    My youngest developed a cough over the weekend that wasn’t productive and I was concerned. I’ve make an onion/garlic/honey cough syrup in the past that worked great for me, but the kids didn’t like and I didn’t notice much improvement.

    I found another one that was more simple to make and really seemed to work. It’s equal parts honey and raw apple cider vinegar. It changed the cough to a more productive cough and then he quit coughing for several hours. I made up a bunch and put it in an old tylenol bottle for easier use. So far so good!

  30. I use vicks on my kids’ feet and it works everytime. it usually lasts about 4 hours then I have to reapply. We do it right before bed along with putting it on their chests and backs. I usually have to put it on once or twice more to make it through the night, but I have not found anything – even cough syrup that works better.


Leave a Comment