10+ ways to shorten a cold naturally

Cold season is here and that means that a good bunch of us are going to be sick really soon! If you're anything like me you hate that 'medicine head' feeling that OTC cold remedies give you. I hate it so much I generally just tough it out and wait for the whole thing to pass. 

Natural cold remedies

I've tried just about everything to get rid of a cold fast and while you can't exactly get over a cold in 24 hours, I have found several natural options that help me to feel better faster. 

Thankfully, none of these natural cold remedies give me that 'wide awake ready to fall asleep' feeling that commercial cold meds do! Give these 10 options a try....

How to shorten a cold naturally

Raw honey

Excellent for fighting infection, honey is a powerhouse when it comes to getting rid of a cold quickly. Raw honey is awesome, and local is even better! (but use what you can get!) Add to teas to soothe a sore throat. 

I have a friend that swears that eating a tablespoon of honey works just as well as cough syrup for calming a cough. I've tried it and it worked for me too. It coats your throat as it goes down so it also helps with soreness. 

Related reading: make fermented ginger honey to soothe your throat


Chamomile tea

Relaxing, calming, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, muscle relaxant & antispasmodic, a cup of chamomile tea can help you to feel better quickly. Add some fresh ginger and honey for a soothing tea.

Lemon water

Lemon is packed with Vitamin C which your body needs to heal itself and water helps to remove the toxins from your system. Drink hot or cold, whichever you prefer.


Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Helps with headaches, heartburn, pain & infection. I take it in capsule form with black pepper added but you can also buy it by itself in the spice isle. If you're really lucky you can find it fresh!   


Has a warming effect causing you to sweat out toxins. The faster you can get rid of the toxins, the better! I also talked about Ginger here and how it used for: upset stomachs, reducing pain and muscle aches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and it inhibits certain bacteria and viruses. 


It is a natural antibiotic, an antifungal and also antibacterial. Lots of people recommend mincing garlic, mixing it in water and chug it down. Still other say to cut the cloves into smaller pieces and swallow whole like a pill (I'm unsure of that one! Seriously...be careful!!!) I buy odorless garlic supplements in capsule form or simply make some type of yummy soup with fresh garlic! 

Tea tree oil

Steam with tea tree oil to help open up congested sinuses. Just boil water in a small pan on the stove. Once boiling, add a few drops of tea tree oil and remove from heat. Lean over it with a towel over your head to hold in the vapors and breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

If it feels too hot on your face, let it cool a minute and try again. This will probably cause a slight burning sensation inside your nose when you do it (it always stings to me) but you'll feel less stuffed afterwards. It's said to help sinus infections also.


Warm gelatin is very soothing to the throat. When sipping warm gelatin it leaves a light coating on the throat helping it to heal faster. There are lots of health benefits of eating gelatin including better sleep (much needed when you're sick!) improved digestion and added nutrition. Gelatin is high in protein and amino acids which is important when you're not feeling like eating much!

To use gelatin to soothe your throat: use a box of Jello, either regular or sugar free. Mix according to box instructions. Put in mug and sip while still warm. 

Some people swear by melted gummy bears to soothe and help heal a sore throat. This works because of the high amount of gelatin in gummy bears. Put a few gummy bears in a mug and cover with boiling water. Stir and allow to cool a bit before sipping. 

Eat healthy

I know, I know....the last thing you want when you don't feel good is a salad! I feel you on this one. BUT, if you can manage to add some fresh fruits and veggies to your diet it will definitely help your body to recover faster!


I found out by accident that doing a headstand while congested can actually help your sinuses to drain! I just was doing a few poses and practiced my headstand for a minute. When I stood up I heard a weird sound inside my head and felt the pressure relieve. I went in search of more poses for colds and found this post from Yoga Journal of poses to help with sinus pressure.

Epsom salt soak

Fill a bath with warm water and add a generous handful of epsom salts to the water and soak away some of the misery! Epsom salts helps detox the body and improve circulation & decrease inflammation.

DIY shower vapor disks

Shower bombs

These awesome bombs made with eucalyptus and tea tree oils  dissolve in the steam of the shower and help you to breathe easier. Simply set one of these on the bottom of your shower stall and let the hot water release the vapors. (careful not to step on them, they're slippery!)

1/2 cup of Baking Soda
1 cup of cornstarch
Small container of Vicks 1.76 oz (don't use generic Vicks it's too waxy and won't melt in the shower. I know, I tried it)
10 drops tea tree oil
10 drops eucalyptus EO
Mini muffin tin and liners

  • Combine cornstarch and Vicks in a bowl using a plastic spoon.
  • Add in your baking soda and mix well.
  • Add both EOs and mix well. The mixture should stick together fairly well. If not, add water a few drops at a time till it starts to stick together.
  • Scoop the mixture into your muffin liners in a mini muffin tin. Fill each about halfway full.
  • Tap down with back of spoon to smooth tops.
  • Warm oven to 200 and turn off. Set trays inside for about an hour.
  • Take out of oven once dry and store in closed container.

Lastly, I'm going to add an old wives tale. The story goes that way back in the day when someone became ill an onion was cut in half and left on their bedside table overnight. During the night the onion attracted the bacteria and by morning it was black and shriveled and the person was better. 

Does it work? I've heard yes and I've heard no.....but I find things like this quite fascinating and just couldn't resist adding it in here!

Related reading: How to make your own hand sanitizer with just 3 ingredients!


Want gardening and healthy living information sent right to your email weekly? Click right here to join my newsletter list and get new posts sent directly to you the day they're published!

I am not a doctor or other health care professional nor do I claim to be. I am not trained in any medical field. I am simply passing on information that has worked for me. This information is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any medical condition. see a Dr if you are ill. Click for my full disclaimer.

(This post contains affiliate links. If you chose to purchase something through the link, I will get a small payment from Amazon. It will not affect your purchase price. Click for full disclosure.)


  1. This is such an interesting post! I'm going to have to try that onion on my son who came home sick from college for the holiday. Thank you for sharing with us at Brag About It! Pinning & Tweeting!

  2. WOW there is so much information here and some great tips at fighting those winter bugs! I love the Tea-tree steaming, this is one of my favourite go to cures! Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness link party this week :) I loved this post so much it is one of the features in next week's party! Hope to see you there!

  3. Very interesting combinations and idea's for feeling better. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  4. Great tips! Thank you for sharing these natural remedies on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! :)

  5. Sending this to my daughter in law for my grandkids! thanks for sharing over at Country Fair Blog Party! We all need this post right now!

  6. One other holistic thing to get rid of a cold fast is to use a neti pot (or any container with a nozzle). It flushes out all those nasty critters from the sinuses.