3 Simple Herbal Cold and Cough Remedies

Disclaimer: The following information has not been approved by the FDA. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice and is not a substitute for a visit with a medical care professional. Always speak to your doctor about any health concerns.

Your throat has a little tickle and feels tight. Your sinuses are raw. You’re tired and achy. Maybe you have a fever. We have all experienced that sinking feeling when you realize you are getting sick.

It seems so strange that while my husband and I may share the “same” illness, our symptoms aren’t always the same. His colds go immediately to his chest, with lots of coughing and wheezing. Mine go to my sinuses and throat and I lose my voice. Other symptoms may be the same, but some are unique to each of us. Our approach to dealing with illness is also unique…I prefer to use safe, natural cold and cough remedies.

1.  Ginger To Prevent and Treat Illness

Have you ever used ginger to stop an oncoming respiratory illness? In his book Herbal Antivirals, Stephen Harrod Buhner extols the medicinal actions of this familiar root. He advises its use at the first signs of illness. It can “cut down sick time to 3 days or less and the episode will often be mild”. Even if the illness has already taken hold it helps to relieve symptoms and shorten duration.

Buhner gives two variations for a powerful ginger tea. The first one is for those of you with a juicer.

Method 1:

  • Juice a ginger root about the size of a medium to large carrot.
  • Combine 1/4 cup of the fresh ginger juice with 12 ounces hot water, 1 tablespoon wildflower honey, the juice of one-quarter of a lime, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne.
  • Drink 4-6 cups per day.

Method 2: 

  • Grate or chop a ginger root about the size of your thumb as finely as possible.
  • Steep in 8-12 ounces of hot water for 2-3 hours, covered in order to preserve the essential oils in the tea.
  • Drink 4-6 cups daily.

Ginger is a strong anti-viral herb. Its use is also advised during illness to calm nausea, reduce diarrhea and stomach cramping, reduce fever, chills and bronchial inflammation, thin mucus and relieve cough. Buhner believes ginger’s ability to relieve pain is equal or better than ibuprofen.

**While ginger is a safe herb for general use, large amounts should be avoided during pregnancy.

2.  Horseradish To Clear Congestion

Method 1:

  • Finely grate a fresh root and hold in your hands or place in a small bowl.
  • Cupping your hands around the grated root, inhale deeply through your nose. Hold for four counts and exhale. Repeat several times.

Method 2:

  • Finely grate a fresh horseradish root.
  • Mix with enough apple cider vinegar to make a paste consistency.
  • Place 1/4 or 1/8 teaspoon in your mouth, slowly chew and swallow. Breathe deeply through your nose while doing so.

Both of these recipes work well, but the first is a little less painful.

3.  Onions For A cold and Cough

This simple cough syrup works to quiet persistent coughs:

  • Chop onions and place in a glass or stainless steel pan.
  • Cover with raw, unadulterated honey. The honey should be at least 1/2 inch above the onions.
  • Heat with low heat (under 130˚ or below). This can also be done in a double boiler. Cook until onions are clear.
  • Strain and press out the liquid.
  • Use as a cough syrup by taking a teaspoon into the mouth and holding it as it slowly trickles down the throat. It may be used every 15 minutes or half hour, as needed.

To make this act as an expectorant or demulcent (relieving inflammation) cough syrup you can add licorice root powder or horehound herb, or wild cherry bark. This should be done before heating and in the amount of one ounce of herb to each pint of honey.

This article is meant to provide you with information on herbal cold and cough remedies that you can safely implement at home. The Healthy Place team believes that excellent health is attainable, and natural remedies help the body to heal without the side effects of over-the-counter medications. We want to help you “Find Your Healthy Place”.

We encourage you to stop in our store  located in Madison, Wisconsin, or contact us through a phone call or email. A member of our team will be happy to answer your questions!

This is written as an informational guide and is not meant to replace professional medical care. 


Christopher, Dr. John R. Herbal Home Health Care. Springville, UT: Christopher Publications, 1976.

Buhner, Stephen Harrod. Herbal Antivirals, Natural Remedies for Emerging & Resistant Viral Infections. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2013

*Disclaimer: All information and recommendations given on this site, in email correspondence, newsletters or other materials provided by The Healthy Place is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice nor be viewed as a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider. Consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before modifying, stopping, or starting the use of any medications, health programs, diets, and/or supplements, as well as regarding any health concerns you may have. Our statements and information have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As with any health-related program, product, or service, your risks and results may vary. We expressly disclaim responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the information provided to you here.”

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