The Common Cold: Folk Remedies and Cures
I'm Shaking My Fist at You, Common Cold!
Oh, the common cold, such a blight on our society—and yet modern medicine has yet to find a cure. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I have spent more then enough time battling the common cold this year. I've had it! That's right, I'm shaking my fist at you, common cold!
Not being one who enjoys being sick (I suspect that some people do), I can honestly say that I have tried almost everything the pharmacy has to offer, but to no avail. In fact, I'm not convinced that any of these so called "cold medications," actually work. Sure, most of them have enough alcohol in them to knock you out so that you can rest, but wouldn't drinking a nice, warm hot toddy be more pleasant and do the same thing? Enough with the cold meds, I need real help!
In my frustration and illness I've decided to look to mother nature for some help with my cold. (Let's face it, when we actually work with her she rarely lets us down.) And I have been pleasantly surprised with the wealth of information, cures, and remedies offered up by traditional folk wisdom. Some are downright kook,y and others are so simple I wonder why I haven't tried them before.
So get ready to say "hasta la vista," common cold and hello to some great folk remedies and cures.
The Mighty Onion Can Cure the Common Cold
Many of the folk remedies I have looked into involve an onion somehow. They can cure everything from a colicky baby to the corns on your feet—and they do wonders for the common cold.
In the case of curing the common cold you have a number of options. One folk remedy suggests eating an entire Spanish onion raw as soon as you feel the cold coming on. This is perhaps not the most appetizing remedy, but if it works, I'm all for it.
The second onion option is to slice an onion in half and place it in a bowl, cut-side up, near your head while you sleep. The theory is that the onion will draw the congestion from your lungs. I've tried it, and it works. Your whole room stinks of onion when you wake up, but some of the congestion from your cold should lift.
This folk remedy for the common cold is one that I see time and time again, so there must be some truth to it. I know it seems counter-intuitive to have wet, cold feet when you have a cold, but hear me out, because there is method to this madness.
Here's what you need to do:
- Take a hot bath.
- Take a pair of cotton socks and soak them in ice cold water, wring them out, and put them on your feet.
- Take a pair of dry wool socks, and put them over the wets socks.
- Go to bed for the night
The idea behind this rather bizarre folk remedy is that it forces your immune system into action by increasing blood flow. Your feet need to get warm, so your body responds. It is supposed to relieve congestion and help you sleep.
I have yet to try this one myself, but I have read about it enough times that I am willing to give it a try. Apparently, it is key to have a hot bath first before trying the wet sock cure, or it might make your cold worse. So don't skip the bath!
Coconut Milk and Oil
I'll admit this remedy is a new one to me, but apparently, drinking coconut milk is a fantastic cure for what ails you. Coconut milk is the liquid that comes out when the white nut flesh of the coconut is pressed. This differs from coconut water, which is the clear liquid found inside of the coconut. Coconut oil is also derived from the flesh of the coconut, but it has more concentrated medicinal properties then coconut milk. The cold remedy can be found in the anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties of the coconut. (Wow, that's a lot of "antis.")
To prevent a cold, take 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil a day or drink a can of coconut milk daily. Including more coconut in your cooking is a good option, as well.This should boost your immune system and help stave off the common cold.
If you have already been hit with a cold and are suffering from a cough and congestion, use coconut oil mixed with a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil as a chest rub. Sore throat? Just melt a few tablespoons of coconut oil into your tea, and it will bring soothing relief.
Ginger, Lemon, and Honey
Combining these three ingredients into a lovely, warming tea is a simple and effective folk remedy. All the ingredients are immunity boosters and are ingredients most people have on hand. The amounts of each ingredient don't matter overly; make it to taste, and drink it often to soothe a sore throat and get you on the road to wellness. Fresh ingredients are always best, and grated ginger root is preferable if you have it.
Some cold folk remedies also call for the addition of cayenne pepper to this tea. Not sure how this combination of favors would taste, but if you like things spicy, give it a try.
Garlic also makes a frequent appearance in folk remedies, especially when looking to cure the common cold. One remedy calls for you to peel a fresh clove of garlic and put it in your cheek. Every once in a while you need to bite it to extract some of the juice. According to folklore your cold should be cured in a day.
Another garlic cold remedy requires you to chop up garlic and put it in a small sack to be worn around your neck for the duration of your cold. The vapors are said to help clear blocked nasal passages. And smelling of garlic will also ward off vampires and unwanted suitors, so win-win.
If you're not interested in smelling of garlic, consider taking garlic tablets from your local health store. Although taking garlic this way may not be as effective, it maybe more practical for you. Follow the dosage instructions on the label, or talk to your natural health practitioner.
Has a runny nose got you down? Sick and tired of your cold keeping you in a sea of mucus and dirty tissues? Well break out the hot sauce and take a swig. Okay, maybe not a giant one, but a few drops of a hot sauce, like tobasco, in a glass of water can cure that runny nose and have you feeling fine. Some reports suggest that in as little as five minutes of drinking this concoction you will feel better. So order up the hot wings and drop them in your drink to get the relief you so desperately need.
Of course we know that rest is always the best option when you have a cold, but if you have a stuffed nose that just won't clear sometimes a little strenuous activity can do the trick. Exercise is a natural decongestant. So crank up the tunes, close the drapes, and bust out your funky moves to help clear you head. It just may lift your mood as well, and who doesn't love a pajama dance party?
Scarf, Socks, and Brandy
This is my mother's version of a folk remedy for the common cold, especially ones that effect the throat and cause laryngitis. She swears by it and claims the brandy is key. I'm not sure of the science behind it, but I can tell you that it works. According to her, it is really important to have your feet covered if you have a sore throat. Seriously, the second she hears a a hint of scratchiness in my voice she asks me if I'm wearing socks. (She has an uncanny sixth sense about whether I'm wearing socks or not. Strange super-power, I know.)
Anyway, the long and the short of it is to keep your feet and throat covered, have a snifter of brandy, and get in bed. Not being much a a drinker, this always knocks me out for the night, and I wake up feeling a lot better because of it. And everyone knows: mothers know best.
Drink it, soak in it, take a hot steamy shower in it. Not so much a folk remedy for the common cold as it is common sense; water is the ultimate healer.
First and foremost, when you have a cold it is of the utmost importance to drink a lot of water because it is so easy to become dehydrated. Between the coughing and sweating, you are losing more water then you would normally. So fill up that water bottle and drink as much as you can. Drinking lots of water will also help you flush the toxins from your body.
And everyone and their dog knows that when all else fails, nothing helps with cold congestion like a hot shower. This is definitely not a time to think about water conservation. If your going to get the relief from your cold that you so desperately need, crank up the temperature and fill the room with steam. Your nasal passages will thank you for it.
If showers aren't your style, then hop in a hot bath and feel the muscle ache of your cold ease away. And if you're plagued by a cough, try a few drops of pine oil in your bathwater to quiet your hacking ways.
Folk Remedy Resources
In my search for folk remedies and cures for common cold I found a few resources that warrant sharing. Although you can find almost any information on the internet, if you are serious about using folk remedies to help you with curing the common cold and other ailments then these two excellent books listed below are definitely worth checking out.
Good luck in your quest for health!
Folk Remedy Books
By far my favorite resource for folk remedies.
1801 Home Remedies
A great compilation of tried and true simple home remedies.
Would you try any of the folk remedies listed here?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.