It’s the season for scarves and sweaters and unfortunately, sniffles. Somehow, when a taste of cold weather starts to creep in, so does our propensity to catch the common cold. While there’s nothing that can truly cure a cold, there are certainly ways to make it just a tad more bearable. For those unlucky enough to be hit with a runny nose or sore throat this fall, here are a few home remedies that will hopefully ease the symptoms.

Woman with Cold


Almost every single article out there about what to do when you’re hit with the common cold mentions hydration first, and for good reason. Even when you’re not sick, there are plenty of articles reminding us all to stay hydrated, and that’s simply because our body needs water. Especially when there’s a sore throat involved, swallowing even water can be hard, but that’s precisely one of the factors why it’s easy to become dehydrated during a cold. Water can also help loosen mucus and combat the dehydrating properties of over-the-counter medicine, according to this response reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD. 

Salt Water Gargles and Rinses

Another way to ease cold symptoms, specifically sore throats, is to gargle saltwater. The properties of saltwater can help ease congestion by “draw[ing] excess fluid from inflamed tissues,” according to Dr. Philip T. Hagen who was interviewed by Anahad O’Connor in this article on The New York Times. This decreases the pain in your throat, all the while combating congestion. 

The Mayo Clinic suggests using half a teaspoon of salt in warm water. Once it fully dissolves, gargle the saline solution for a few seconds before spitting it out. Another option for your saltwater is to do a salt water rinse. This actually requires getting a bulb syringe or neti-pot before squirting the saline solution up one nostril while you hold your other nostril closed. After letting the solution drain out, repeat with your other nostril. Read more about how to do a salt-water rinse in this post reviewed by William Blahd on WebMD. 

Woman with Cold

Ginger Tea

This is a remedy I grew up with and is quick and easy to prepare. Slice the ginger root into thin slices, then drop them into boiling water. An alternative way that I like to use is to grate the ginger into water, and then bring it to a boil. You don’t need to boil the ginger for too long — I usually boil it for about a minute, then turn off the heat and add brown sugar to taste. Instead of adding brown sugar, you can also add lemon and/or honey. This blog post on Healthy Hildegard goes into the benefits of ginger as well as common mistakes to avoid. 

Hot Soups

We’re staying in the line of hydration with this one, but also adding the aspect of warmth that seems to be a remedy for colds in itself. Megan Beauchamp from MyDomaine even has a blog post with 10 of the best soups for colds, from the classic chicken noodle soup to garlic pepper soba with chili-roasted tofu. 

For more teas and soups to help calm that cough, check out this compilation of Bela Cooke’s homemade remedies on Thought. Dana Sparks from the Mayo Clinic has a post of remedies that work and don’t work, as well as remedies that science hasn’t determined one way or another. Stay warm this season, and for those who need it, happy healing!

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