How to treat a cold

  • Once you feel the first signs of a cold, you might think that you have to let it run its course.
  • There are things you can do make yourself stronger, to get rid of a cold in its tracks or shorten the duration.
  • From soothing detox teas to targeted supplements to cleaning your nasal passages with salt water, these natural cold remedies will help you kick a cold before it starts or cut down the days it has you down.

The kids start school. The weather changes. You have to travel by air. You visit someone in the hospital. At some point or another, you’re going to come into contact with germs.

You know the feeling. That tickle in your throat, or that tightness between your cheekbones and your nose, that initial chill — your body gives you clear signals you’re getting sick.

Once a cold strikes, you might think you’re past the point of no return, that you have to let it run its course. But there are things you can do make yourself stronger, to stop a cold in its tracks or shorten the duration.

Below, get the best tips for how to get rid of a cold fast. Then, keep scrolling to learn the science behind why these cold remedies work.

Your feel-better-fast checklist

You feel like crap and just want to get rid of your cold fast. Here, your quick and dirty guide to natural cold remedies that actually work.

  • Eat garlic. Mince two cloves and let them sit for 15 minutes for the active compounds to develop. Mix with olive oil and salt and spread on your food of choice.
  • Drink ginger tea. Ginger wards off the cold virus, and soothes a sore throat and headaches.
  • Take zinc to shorten your cold by as many as 3 days.[1] When loading up on zinc, take copper with it so you don’t deplete your stores.
  • Pop vitamin C. It won’t prevent colds unless you’re deficient,[2] but it can shorten your cold and reduce symptoms.[3][4]
  • Add glutathione. Master antioxidant glutathione strengthens the immune system and makes vitamin C work harder. Take a supplement or get from a high-quality whey protein.
  • Supplement with curcumin. Turmeric’s active compound reduces inflammation to relieve congestion.[5]
  • Sip bone broth to bolster the immune system and take the edge off your cold symptoms. Add ginger, garlic and turmeric for extra cold-busting oomph.
  • Take a detox bath. Add epsom salts, essential oils, or bentonite clay to your tub to soothe symptoms and draw out impurities.
  • Don’t forget vitamin D. Vitamin D keeps your immune system in fighting shape.
  • Use a nasal rinse. This all-natural DIY nasal irrigation rinse will kill germs and relieve symptoms.
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Detox with lemon honey lavender tea

When you’re under the weather, sip this soothing lemon lavender beauty elixir. It helps purify your skin from the inside out; it also works as an overall detox.

The ingredients of this calming tea has amazing properties, like:

  • Lavender – soothing, relaxing, and anti-microbial
  • Lemon – a vitamin C powerhouse
  • Collagen – useful for every cell in your body
  • Coconut charcoal – to bind toxins and get them out
  • Raw honey – antimicrobial, and to help you sleep

Oh, and it tastes amazing. Don’t let the black charcoal throw you — it doesn’t taste like much. The lavender and lemon steal the show here.

Use a sinus rinse to wipe out sniffles

Nasal irrigation comes in many forms — saline spray, neti pot, and yogic basin rinses. The Bulletproof Sinus Rinse gets everything moving and kills the bugs in its path. The short description — you fill a bowl with boiled and cooled water, and mix in Himalayan sea salt, iodine, and xylitol.

Then you “breathe” in the water through your nose. If your angle is correct, it’ll collect at the back of the throat, and you spit it out. You have a whole bowl of the stuff, so you can repeat the process until you feel clear.

If you want to give it a go, get the recipe for the rinse liquid and detailed instructions here.

How quickly you get rid of your cold depends on what the illness is, and how strong your individual immune system is at the start of it. Some illnesses are no match for any of these remedies, and others will respond to something as simple as extra vitamin C. You have to experiment, and now you have a variety of things to throw at your next cold, so you can get back in the game pronto.

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Take a detox bath to soothe cold symptoms

When you have a cold, soaking your cares away in the tub makes you feel better almost instantly. While not a remedy, per se, the warm water relaxes stiff muscles and joints, while the moist air opens up congested sinuses and calms coughing. Adding things like essential oils, epsom salts, and bentonite clay can turn your plain old soak into a detox bath.

Bentonite clay

Bentonite clay is an adsorbent. That’s not a typo — adsorbents attract molecules with a positive charge. A lot of impurities have a positive charge, so bentonite clay draws the yuck to the surface of your skin and shortens the path to eliminating it through your pores.

Epsom salts

Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate crystals that you can get from pretty much any pharmacy or supermarket. It’s super easy to use — simply add some to your bath as you’re filling it.

Your skin absorbs magnesium from the epsom salts through the skin. Magnesium has calming effects, and coupled with the relaxing warmth, you’ll be ready for a good night’s sleep when you get out. Your immune system fights hard while you’re sleeping, so anything you can do to lull yourself to sleep will help your body recover from your cold more quickly.

Since you absorb electrolytes in an epsom salt bath, you’ll probably need to drink a little extra water after your soak. Water is essential for flushing your system, so keep your fluids up whether you tub it or not.

Essential oils

Essential oils are another fantastic addition to your bath when you’re working in getting rid of a cold. The little bit of steam from your tub diffuses the oils so that you can breathe them, and you also get the benefit through the skin. Eucalyptus opens up a stuffed nose. Lemon boosts the immune system, and lavender has a calming effect that goes great with a warm soak.

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You cannot dilute essential oils in water. They will form full-strength drops at the surface. Dilute a few drops in a teaspoon or so carrier oil before adding them to the bath. Of course, be careful exiting the tub so you don’t slip.

how to get rid of a cold quickly

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10. Epsom salt bath

Add epsom salt to a hot bath along with some essential oils if you’d like to have a relaxing, detoxifying evening. Again with the osmosis thing, the minerals in the bath cause the toxins in your body to be released in the bath so not only is it relaxing, but it’s good for you too.

BONUS: Sleep! Give your body the rest it needs. I’ve learned this lesson many times over, but to really help your body heal you need to sleep as much as your body needs. Don’t just try to push through illness. Your body is working extra hard to fight something so rest and allow it to recover. If you’re having trouble sleeping, check out Live Better’s Immunity + Melatonin, which is a mixture of immune-boosting vitamins + minerals plus melatonin to help you sleep.

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Huge thank you to CVS for partnering with me on this post and offering natural solutions for helping our bodies fight common illnesses. I’m excited to see what products you come out with next! In the meantime, I’m super excited that they are offering one lucky THM reader and awesome prize pack full of Live Better products + a $25 CVS gift card! All you have to do is share your favorite natural cold and flu remedy below. Giveaway is open to US residents and runs until 12/21 at 12:00 AM PST. Good luck!

Getting sick? Don't reach for the medicine cabinet! Here are 10 Natural Cold and Flu Remedies that actually work from ingredients you have in your kitchen!

Disclaimer: I’m proud to be working with CVS Pharmacy to help spread the word about #BetterHealthMadeEasy and how to #FindYourHealthy. All opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified at or with the appropriate manufacturers. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make THM possible!

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