How to get rid of a cold fast

girl with coffee cup and healthy beverage

Wondering about the best thing to drink when sick? Drink these comforting, healing beverages when you’re sick to boost your immune system and get well again quickly.

The weather may be dreary, but you’re feeling cheery… until, suddenly, sickness strikes. The soreness in your throat. The achy feeling in your body. The extreme lack of energy. Even your mood turns sour.

As the signs of sickness set it, you may be tempted to lay on the couch and feel bad for yourself. And yes, you do need rest (and a good dose of zzzzzzs). But why not use this as an opportunity to take care of your health?

Choosing healthy, fresh, whole plant foods may be the best way to care for your body in its time of need. And doing your best to prevent illness before symptoms hit is always a good idea.

But when you’re unwell, the right healing beverages may help ease your woes and even end your illness. (Even if you don’t feel like drinking them.)

Best Thing to Drink When Sick? 13 Easy Healing Beverage Ideas

woman holding mug

No liquid will magically make your symptoms disappear in a snap. But these libations are good for your body and won’t cause nasty side effects (like you need that). And they can help revive your spirits, too.

When I’m feeling under the weather, I typically don’t want to make complicated foods and drinks. So these suggestions are not only healthy and comforting but also quick and easy, too. Try these home remedies for cold and flu and see if they help you.

Green Tea — A Popular Healing Beverage for Good Reason

glass of green tea

Easy to find and affordable, tea, specifically green tea, may be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.

Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant known as EGCG, which helps stop free radicals from damaging your healthy cells.

Studies have also proven green tea to be antiviral, helping to fight the flu and other viruses. Like antiviral drugs, green tea appears to help enhance the rapid growth and activity of immune cells that are considered a first-line defense against infection.

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You can sip green tea and even gargle with it to knock out germs and reduce your symptoms. In a 2016 study in BMC Public Health, gargling with tea was found to be potentially effective for preventing the flu.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that green tea is so health-promoting. As Michael Greger, MD, says, “You’re basically drinking a hot water extraction of a dark green leafy vegetable.”

Echinacea Tea — Powerful and Proven to Shorten the Cold and Flu

hands holding a mug

Want to shorten the length of your cold or flu and reduce your sore throat, cough and fever? Of course you do.

And echinacea is backed by science to do all those things. In fact, echinacea may be more powerful than commonly prescribed flu medications.

When should you sip this powerful flower? Studies have shown that drinking echinacea tea at the first signs of the cold or flu can reduce the severity and duration of your sickness.

And then, you probably want to keep drinking echinacea. Studies have proven it to increase immune activity and to keep a cold from returning.

You can find echinacea tea bags or simmer the root for at least 10 minutes.

Some herbalists and researchers recommend not taking echinacea for longer than two to eight weeks consecutively. They believe that if you take echinacea for a long period, it could actually be harmful to your immune system.

Sage Tea — To Dry Up Extra Moisture In Your Body

woman drinking sage tea

Sage tea is another easy home remedy for sore throats and coughs.

To make sage tea all you need to do is pour hot water over about two tablespoons of dried sage. And then, steep for 10 minutes and strain. (You can combine sage and thyme to make a powerful tea.)

Sage can also boost your mood. And some people believe that burning sage can help to clear the energy in rooms — something that you might also find useful when you’re sick.

Hot Cocoa — Cold-Curing Benefits That Make You Say Mmmm

mug of cocoa

And finally, here’s an idea your taste buds may love. Chocolate to cure your cold.

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Did you know? Cocoa contains a chemical that can help your body fight off cold symptoms.

Doctors at the British National Health Service discovered that the cocoa in chocolate might help cure a persistent cough and was found to be more effective than the best cough medicine.

Also, chocolate is one of the top antioxidants foods. And it releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. But the benefits don’t stop there. In fact, after water, cocoa may be one of the healthiest substances you can put in your body.

Of course, not all chocolate is equal. You should stick to dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao is best) and pure cacoa or cocoa powders (without added sugar). And aim to find organic and fair-trade chocolate, so you aren’t contributing to child slavery.

Cacao is the purest, raw form of chocolate you can consume. It has the most nutrients and antioxidants. And many cultures have used it throughout history for health purposes. On the other hand, cocoa, while still a healthy choice, is processed using high temperatures.

You can make a healthy and easy hot beverage by combining cacoa or cocoa powder and hot water with your favorite plant-based milk. (Adding some cinnamon and a touch of cayenne powder is a great idea — cayenne can also help shorten your cold or flu.)

Chocolate is less stimulating than many teas, like green tea, so you may be able to enjoy it later in the day or even before bed.

And you might want to have a delicious cup of cocoa every day during the winter to stay well. Drinking a daily cup of hot chocolate might help prevent you from getting the flu. In a human trial, drinking cocoa every morning was found to stimulate the body’s natural ability to fight the flu virus.

Best Thing to Drink When Sick?

In summary, here are some of the best drinks to sip when sick:

  • Water (but not too much)
  • Lemon water
  • Ginger tea
  • Green tea
  • Hibiscus and rose hip tea
  • Echinacea tea
  • Astragalus tea
  • Thyme tea
  • Sage tea
  • Tomato tea
  • Fresh juice and smoothies
  • Hot cocoa
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Important Notes About Some of These Healing Beverages

  • When drinking hot drinks be careful they aren’t too hot. Drinking very hot beverages has been found to be “probably carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization. What is too hot? A CNN article says, “It’s hotter than water coming out of sink faucets […] but not as hot as boiling water.” It also mentions that beverages are not usually served this hot in Europe and North America, but are commonly served this hot in regions such as South America, the Middle East, and East Africa.
  • Sour beverages, like lemon water, hibiscus, and rosehip teas, can damage your teeth if you don’t take the proper steps. To protect your teeth from erosion, be sure to rinse your mouth with plain water after you finish. Or sip through a reusable straw. (But don’t brush your teeth right after drinking.)
  • For any herbs, especially if you plan to use them medicinally for an extended time or if you are taking any medications, you may want to check with your healthcare professional. Herbs can be powerful and should be treated with respect.
  • For those who are pregnant or nursing, thyme and sage shouldn’t be taken medicinally, though they can be used as culinary spices.

Take Action for Your Health and Get Well ASAP

man smiling with coffee cup

If you want, you can combine many of these beverage ideas — like green tea brewed with ginger and a squeeze of lemon. Or hot chocolate made with brewed astragalus.

Whatever steps you take, remember to hold yourself with care. Being sick is no fun and being mean to yourself only adds insult to injury.

You deserve love and care all the time — and especially when you’re feeling low. So snuggle up, sip something healthy, and with any luck, you’ll be feeling better soon.

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Related: Easy home remedies to help you avoid colds and the flu (from a doctor who’s also a mom).

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