DIY Home Cold Remedies

MOTHER EARTH NEWS – A quick internet search shows that people want to heal a cold within 24 hours or eve overnight. While the science behind colds – immunology and the different viruses that cause colds – claim this can’t be done, we can alleviate symptoms with head cold remedies so we can sleep or work better. Most ingredients for these head cold remedies have been used for thousands of years, proving that thereís some science behind the traditions.

  • The simplest comfort remedies can be as simple as learning how to make herbal tea at home.
  • Herbs can serve many purposes, but one herb doesn’t serve all of them. Herbs for stomach upset differ from herbs for respiratory health.
  • For a great preventative tonic, try making fire cider from vinegar, herbs, and spices.
  • Grow fresh horseradish as a perennial so it’s ready for a new batch of fire cider.
  • If you’re worried about vinegar ingredients, try crafting your own vinegar at home.

Herbal teas provide comfort without adding caffeine that may keep us awake at night. Hot liquid feels great on a sore throat, especially with soothing honey and lemon added to the tea. Mint can help clear a stuffy nose. Depending on the ingredients, herbal tea can also be safe for children. But, with a basic knowledge of herbology, you don’t have rely on offerings at your supermarket. If those pre-made tea mixes contain ingredients that youíre not comfortable consuming, consider crafting your own herbal teas.

Herbs generally recognized as safe include mints such as peppermint, spearmint, and lemon balm. Mints also help soothe an upset stomach, so they’re great if you suffer from a norovirus or rotovirus.

Inhaling a mint tea can help soothe the respiratory tract, too. Other herbs for respiratory health include horehound, a bitter member of the mint family, which can loosen thick mucus and make coughs more productive. Other great herbs for respiratory infections include mullein and plantain – the broadleaf kind found in lawns, not the banana relative.

A herbal tea article by Mother Earth News reader Jane Cookman Metzger includes this recipe:


  • 2 parts elderberries
  • 2 parts echinacea root and/or leaves
  • 2 parts calendula petals
  • 1 part rose hips
  • 1 part orange peel
  • 1/2 part ginger root (or 1 part fresh ginger root)
  • 1/4 part cinnamon chips
  • 1 cup water


  1. Add elderberries and water to a pan. Bring to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Turn off heat and add the rest of the herbs.
  3. Let steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Strain and drink up to 3 to 4 cups throughout the day.

*Editorial note: Elderberries must be cooked before consumption!

While teas can be very soothing while we are sick, other tea mixes can prevent infections ahead of time by improving overall health. Adding these herbs into your diet, in the form of teas, allows you to consume beneficial herbs without too much work. Fire cider, an ancient concoction that has undergone a recent resurgence, also works as a preventative.

If you’ve ever drank kombucha while feeling like you’re coming down sick, you probably noticed that it helped you feel a bit better. Vinegar has been used medicinally in many cultures. Fire cider infuses healing herbs into the vinegar to create a concoction that may be bitter or delicious – depending on how you make it. Consumers may find fire cider within health food stores, and these work great, but pre-made fire ciders don’t allow you to avoid specific ingredients. Crafting it at home can be fun and educational!


Try Rosemary Gladstar’s original fire cider recipe, which includes these ingredients: fresh horseradish, chopped onion and garlic, fresh ginger, dried or fresh cayenne, raw apple cider vinegar, and honey. Combine all the ingredients in a half-gallon mason jar, pouring in enough vinegar to cover the solid ingredients by 4 inches. Then set the jar in a warm place, shaking it daily for 3 to four weeks. Strain out the solids, then store in a cool pantry. Consume a few tablespoons a day.

Other fire cider recipes include citrus – the peel and the juice – or cloves, elderberries, thyme, and oregano. Create a recipe that tastes good enough for you to consume it daily without shuddering.

Unfortunately, when it comes time to make fire cider before cold and flu season, fresh horseradish can be difficult to find. Look in health food stores or ethnic food stores. Or, if you garden, try cultivating it as a perennial crop. Plant some horseradish roots in a place where it can grow unrestricted, then harvest some in the autumn right before making fire cider. Remember to leave a few roots in the ground for next year! If you have nutrient-rich soil, however, you may find that saving a few roots isn’t a problem, as horseradish grows easily and readily. In a few years, you may find yourself reaching out to friends, offering fresh horseradish and sharing your preferred fire cider recipe.


To make fire cider, look for “raw apple cider vinegar.” And remember that the clear apple cider vinegar, which comes in gallon jugs, is apple-flavored but made with corn. This can be a problem for those with corn allergies. Plus, this filtered and pasteurized corn vinegar offers very few health benefits. Look for apple cider vinegar with the “mother,” meaning some of the sediment at the bottom includes part of the cellulose layer that cultured the vinegar. Or, try making your own vinegar! This project is great in the fall, as you process apples for cider or canning. Learning “https://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/make-vinegar-at-home-zmrz14fmzmat/?utm_source=OgdenNews&utm_medium=article&utm_campaign=Syndication” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>how to make vinegar at home doesn’t involve much of a learning curve. Save clean trimmings from fruits and collect them in a food-grade non-metal bowl. Cover the fruit with unchlorinated water, and perhaps some sugar if you would like to speed up the process. Place a plate over the fruit to hold it beneath the water level, and then cover that with a clean towel or cheesecloth to keep gnats out. Set it in a warm spot (65 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit) for about a week, until it bubbles and smells alcoholic. Then, strain out the solids and inoculate with a “mother” from another batch or with vinegar that contains the “mother.” Cover again, place in a warm, dark location, and monitor it for a few months to a year, depending on the concentration. This second phase works great in a half-gallon canning jar, topped with a coffee filter to keep out gnats and secured with the jar’s ring.

To avoid enduring a cold or respiratory infection in misery, craft some teas or fire ciders with ingredients that are safe for your household. By choosing the herbal ingredients and crafting your own vinegars, you have control over the flavor as well. And you may enjoy the process so much that you grow the ingredients in a garden next year.