Treating a Cold Naturally

Each time our little one gets sick it seems that we forget every single natural remedy that could help her recover quickly.  So, I thought maybe writing it out might be helpful and I wanted to share with you as well!  Since we are currently right in the middle of cold season, we're going to focus on what to do when a cold strikes! 

We often hear that there isn't anything we can do except let a cold run its course and while that's true to some extent, there are some things we can do to help shorten the duration of the cold and keep a simple cold from turning into something worse.

*Please note - Our list is merely a compilation of a few natural options and in no way replaces the need to be seen and treated by a doctor. Always discuss natural treatment options with your doctor before beginning.*

Detox Bath

We start with a detox bath at the first sign of a cold. A detox bath is one of the easiest natural remedies for us to remember for our little one because we give her a bath every night.  It can be as simple as adding 4oz of Epsom salts to the bath. We pre-dissolve the salts in really hot water and add to the bath for our little one but you can also just add the salts directly to the bath if you wish. You want to make the bath hot, but not too hot. When taking a detox bath it's good to shoot for a minimum of 20 minutes as that's the amount of time it take for the toxins to be drawn out of the body. Anything over 20 minutes is a bonus as this is when your body absorbs the nutrients from the salts.  

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Syrup is a great way to support the body's immune system.  We try to remember to take it on a regular basis but when a cold strikes we make sure we're taking it a couple times a day.  We make our own Elderberry Syrup but many health food stores sell it as well.  By keeping the immune system supported, our bodies are better able to fight off these viruses and infections! 

 It's All About The Mucus!

It's so important to keep the mucus thin and loose. The thicker the mucus, the more likely it is to set up and become an infection (ear infection, in our experience). But, there are so many ways to help keep the mucus thin and hopefully prevent these infections.  Let's go through some of the options!

Humidifier - Running a cool-mist humidifier especially at night and during naps will help to keep the airways moist and thin out the mucus, making it easier to extract from the body and less likely to thicken up and set in for the long haul.  Make sure your humidifier is clean and use filtered water for best results. 

Steam - Another great way to relieve congestion is with steam.  For adults, boil some filtered water and add about a cup of boiling water to a bowl then add enough cold water to bring the temperature down so that the steam isn't so hot that it'll burn you while you steam.  To turn your steam into a saline steam, just add 1/4 cup of sea salt to your bowl.  Cover your head with a towel to capture the steam and hold head over water. Use caution as steam will be very hot. Inhale steam for 5-10 min.  If you've included salts in your bowl you can reheat the solution several times throughout the day as needed to open and soothe nasal passages.  For little ones, I've found that the easiest way to accomplish a steam is to run a very hot shower with the bathroom door closed (making sure to keep your little one away from the hot water).  Once the room has filled with steam hang out in the bathroom as long as you can. 

Nasal Spray or Drops - Another more direct way to add moisture to the nasal passage and mucus hanging out there is with nasal spray or drops.  My little one prefers the drops so that's what we go with.  We put a few drops in both nostrils and leave her head tilted back for a couple seconds, following with suction. 

Water - It's really important to ensure that you're staying hydrated.  After all, your mucus will take on the same level of hydration as your body. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help the mucus stay thinner and be more easily removed from the body.


In addition to the above natural remedies we can also add a few treatments which further supporting the body with herbs and essential oils.

Herbal Teas

Ginger - A spicy, aromatic tea which may help relieve chest and nasal congestion associated with colds. The chemical compounds in ginger may also help support your body's immune system which is working to fight off the cold virus.  

Peppermint - A cooling herb containing a chemical called menthol, which may help relieve congestion and encourage productive coughs. The oil in peppermint leaves may also have antiviral benefits, helping to prevent the spread of viruses that cause colds.

Licorice Root - Licorice root tea is said to ease congestion by helping to loosen and thin mucus in airways so that it can be expelled from the body. It also supports the body's immune system helping in the fight against the viruses leading to an overproduction of mucus in the first place.

Essential Oils

Herbal Chest Rub - One of the most important things to look for in a chest rub is that the essential oils used are appropriate for the age of the individual you'll be using it on. While Eucaplytus and Peppermint are wonderful at providing relief from cold symptoms, the essential oils themselves contain too high a concentration of menthol to be safe for our little ones. Another thing to be aware of is the source of the base product used to create your chest rub. Many rubs contain petroleum-based products which are in no way nourishing for the skin. Our Herbal Chest Rub is made with only natural, nourishing ingredients and is available in several age-appropriate essential oil blends.

Diffusing - Aromatherapy can be helpful in the fight against colds and the mucus they produce.  Below we've listed a few of the essential oils that can help support the body as we fight the congestion caused by the cold virus.  We use a blend of the below oils when diffusing for our little one. 

Please note - Aromatherapy is not recommended for babies under 6 months and there is a very limited list of oils that are considered safe for children under 10 years of age.

The essential oils listed below are just a small sample of oils that can be helpful to support the body when naturally treating cold symptoms and are considered safe for children 2 years and older.  

  • Lavender
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Cinnamon Leaf
  • Clove Bud
  • White Fir
  • Frankincense

When diffusing, we use 5 drops of essential oil in diffuser filled with water and run 30 minutes at a time. Lavender is a perfect option at bedtime as it helps the body to calm and relax while helping to open the airways and relieve congestion.  

For even more information on using essential oils to help support the body when in easing congestion take a look at our Essential Oils for Congestion post.  


Hopefully this list will help you to remember some of the many things you can do to help your family (or even yourself) to feel better when a cold strikes!  And even though we can't cure a cold at least we have a few natural remedies that may help us shorten the duration of the symptoms while letting a cold run its course! 

*Please note - The above list is merely a compilation of a few natural options and in no way replaces the need to be seen and treated by a doctor.  Always discuss natural treatment options with your doctor before beginning.  

1 comment


I had forgotten about many of these methods. I really want to get the chest rub so that I will be prepared.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published