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3 DIY Natural Cold & Cough Remedies from Your Pantry

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Stormy weather and stuffy sinuses are in the air through the fall and winter, but instead of filling your body with medications and chemicals, you might want to try some DIY homemade all-natural cold remedies first. Cheaper and healthier than the store-bought stuff, some are tried and true recipes from our grandmothers, while others cropped up in recent years as knowledge about the healing benefits of foods and spices continues to expand.

Homemade cold remedies have long been used (although perhaps more by our grandmothers than by the current generation) to effectively treat cold, flu and allergy symptoms. With the movement toward natural and organic foods, these remedies are seeing a resurgence. Trying these homemade solutions first prior to treating with medication can avoid overmedication and benefit your health, your wallet and your peace of mind.

As with most health and home topics lately, I head to Pinterest to do a little research before I get started. The site is full of pins about all kinds of DIY homemade remedies ranging from spicy cayenne blends to bizarre garlic concoctions.

The most appetizing to me is a set of lemonade cold remedy mixes. Can't go wrong with lemonade, right? But, which ones work and actually relieve cold and allergy symptoms? Luckily for all of us, my kids and I have a stream of perpetual colds through the fall and winter, so we have plenty of test subjects.

Vanessa at See Vanessa's Craft suggests her mom's recipe for natural lemonade cold remedy.

Lemonade Cold Remedy

Adapted from See Vanessa's Craft


6 lemons

3 quarts water

1/2 cup honey or maple syrup


Slice lemons and boil in water for about 10 minutes. Add honey or maple syrup and mix. You can serve the drink hot or cold. See Vanessa's tips for making this sour treat kid-friendly and for a boozy version for the over-21 crowd.


So tasty. And great--hot or cold. It did seem to help our throats a bit, but the jury's still out on whether it did anything special for the sinuses. The hot liquid helped temporarily clear the sinuses up, as most hot liquids do, but the cold version was ineffective.

Now, this next one's not nearly as appetizing as the first: Garlic Honey Cold Remedy. I like garlic; I like honey; but together? Not so much. But, in the interest of scientific experimentation, I'll give anything a shot. It's a pretty simple recipe: fill pint jars with garlic cloves and cover with honey. Let the mixture sit in the jars a few days. Then you eat the garlic cloves, about six per day, for the immune-boosting properties and drink spoonsful of honey for a cough syrup. The results of this one are a bit harder to test, since it's long-term. But as for the immediate reaction, it's not nearly as gross as expected. Note: store this mixture in the refrigerator to reduce botulism risk.

The cayenne cough remedy is the most intriguing of the bunch. It's sort of a mix between tasty stuff like the lemonade and more savory health-boosters like the garlic remedy. I found several versions of the same remedy: a blend of cayenne, ginger, vinegar and honey to soothe sore throats. You can also gargle with cayenne and other spices for sore throats.

Cayenne Cough Kicker


1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

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From the Organic Authority Files

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 Tablespoon cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons water

1 Tablespoon honey


Dissolve the spices in the vinegar and water (if you're making a larger batch, do this in your storage container). Add honey and shake it up.


This one really packs a kick, but it definitely soothes a sore throat and seems to stop most coughing. It's not exactly tasty, but not terrible either.

Another cold killer you'll see involves elderberries. Elderberries may be difficult to find, but they're often available dried at health food stores, or you can order them online. For this remedy, you'll also need water and honey, while spices are optional. Elderberries are lauded as flu prevention and recovery wonders. The high levels of A, B and C vitamins in the fruit are huge immune boosters.

Elderberry Syrup


2/3 cup black elderberries

3 1/2 cups water

1 cup honey


Boil elderberries in water. You can add a bit of spice here for flavor, like cinnamon, ginger and cloves, but it's not necessary for the remedy. Cinnamon is a known fever reducer, so if you already have the flu, it's a good choice. Bring the mix to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the mixture is reduced by half. Strain the mixture and discard or compost the berries. Let the liquid cool a bit and mix in the honey.

Pour the syrup into a pint jar. A child's dose is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon, while adults take 1/2 to 1 tablespoon. Take once per day for flu prevention and once every 3 hours for flu remedy.


Surprisingly tasty. And with all those vitamins it certainly can't hurt in the cold prevention department.

Check my Pinterest health board for even more home remedy ideas.

Follow Kristi on Twitter @VeggieConverter and Pinterest

Image: Robert S. Donovan

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