Natural Cold Treatment

My school-age son has a terrible cold. I have him rubbing with mentholated ointment and breathing in steam, but he is so miserable! Is there anything else that will help? We prefer natural remedies whenever possible.

Dr. Greene`s Answer:

I prefer nature’s remedies as a first line of treatment and prevention, whenever it’s practical. When sore throats and colds hit, we turn to our own homemade broth we affectionately call “brew” for a natural cold treatment.

The hot drink tastes a bit like Thai Soup. The flavors may be strong for a child so I’ve included both the adult version I drink, and a kids’ version that may be better suited to their taste preferences. Most adults enjoy it — at least the second or third time they try it.

Dr. Greene’s Natural Cold Treatment: Pediatric Version

  • 6 cups of water (we prefer filtered)
  • The juice of 11⁄2 lemons
  • Zest of 1⁄2 lemon
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped in large pieces
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1⁄2 inch pieces
  • Honey to taste*

Combine all and bring to a boil. Pour through a strainer, add honey to taste and drink it hot.

*Honey is not recommended in children under 1 year of age.

Dr. Greene’s Natural Cold Treatment: Adult Version

  • 6 cups of water (we prefer filtered)
  • The juice of 3 lemons
  • The zest of one lemon
  • 3/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped in large pieces
  • 3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1⁄2 inch pieces
  • Honey to taste

Combine all and bring to a boil. Pour through a strainer, add honey to taste and drink it hot.

How Do Natural Cold Treatments Work?

The cold virus lives best at 98.6 degrees, so raising the temperature in the throat and nose can help. In addition to the recipe above, drinking lots of hot tea and chicken soup and breathing in steam can help.

Salt makes it more difficult for the cold virus to replicate–another good reason for chicken soup, which is often loaded with sodium. Some canned soups have more salt than salt water.

Acid is also tough on the cold virus, which is why lemons and tea are a great idea in a cold treatment.

Honey helps as well, but is not recommended in children under 1 year of age.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.

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  1. carin75

    Do you really want to boil the honey?

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    • Great point. The recipe should read (and will soon) ” … an inch of chopped fresh ginger. Bring it to a biol. pour through a strainer, add honey to taste and drink it hot.” Thanks for the close read!

      Added:
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