Seven Natural Cold Remedies: Experts’ Picks

The team at Body in Balance Center in Alexandria offer their favorite holistic cures for the common cold.

Photographs courtesy of Flickr users Svenstorm, notafish, FotoosVanRobin, and

This time of year, it inevitably seems like everyone around you is coughing, sneezing, and dripping from the nose. Unfortunately, besides keeping hand sanitizer close by and washing your hands regularly, there’s only so much you can do to prevent catching the common cold.

When cold medicine or Airborne just isn’t cutting it, you may want to consider natural, holistic remedies instead. In recent years, ear, nose, and throat doctors have turned patients to Neti Pots, which are shaped like Aladdin’s lamp and are used to relieve one’s sinuses through nasal irrigation. But there are even easier, less intimidating remedies that holistic practitioners swear by, like exotic teas and soups. We asked massage therapists, acupuncturists, and doctors at Body in Balance Center in Alexandria what they use to cure the pesky cold.


Expert: Ann Bartlett, licensed massage therapist
Cure: Matzo ball soup with fresh-cut ginger, steeped in broth for several hours in a slow cooker, and Gypsy Cold Care tea with a slice of ginger.
How it works: “The anti-inflammatories in ginger, called gingerols and shogaols, help reduce the pain of a sore throat and also help to kill rhinoviruses.”


Expert: Njemile Jones, licensed acupuncturist
Cure for early stages: Gui Zhi Tang, or cinnamon twig tea
How it works: “It has gently warming herbs like cinnamon and fresh ginger, along with licorice root, red dates, and a little bit of white peony root. Its warming nature helps you break a mild sweat to release the cold hovering just beneath the skin.”

Cure for raw, sore throat with a fever and headache: Tea with cooling herbs like peppermint. Or try congee—a type of soup—with green onions, black mushrooms, Job’s Tears, mung beans, and bamboo shoots.
How it works: The cooling herbs help lower the body’s temperature and aid in breaking the fever.

Cure: 45-minute acupuncture session
How it works: “Cupping your shoulders and upper back, along with a few acupuncture needles gently placed on your forearms and lower legs, can help kick that cold out of your body quickly and efficiently.”


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Photograph courtesy of Flickr user lululemon athletica

Expert: Regan Franklin, yoga instructor
Cure: Take a yoga class and breathe deeply
How it works: “Breath is the vehicle to our survival and, during cold season, fighting the virus. Breathing into the chest as opposed to the belly results in a more shallow breath, which means less oxygen transfer to the blood; in turn, less nutrients are delivered to the tissues that need them, making your body’s immune system work less efficiently.”


Expert: Dr. Chris Johnson, naturopathic doctor
Cure: Elderberry syrup
How it works: “Elderberry has very strong, direct antiviral properties that mobilize virus-fighting elements of the immune system. In clinical trials, it has been shown to reduce duration of flu and flu-like illnesses by an average of four days, while also greatly reducing intensity of symptoms.”
“Best effects are achieved when taken within 24 hours of onset of symptoms. Look for products called Sambucol or Sambucus, and follow the directions listed on the product.”


Expert: Dr. Joe Henderson, chiropractor
Cure: Spine adjustment
How it works: “Optimal functioning of the immune system depends on a host of variables: nutrition, exercise, and effective stress release. Proper function of the spine and the joints of the extremities, and healthy tone of the muscular system also plays a direct neurological role. If ‘optimal’ doesn’t go in, ‘optimal’ doesn’t come out.”