Honey in jars

How To Make Your Own Natural Cough And Cold Remedies

Banish the winter sniffles and beat the cold with these natural mixtures

Winter colds and sore throats are the bane of most of our lives and most of them can be eased with a natural home-made concoction. Many of the ingredients can be grown quite easily in your own garden. There are many natural antidotes to coughs and colds but there is some debate in the medical profession as to their efficiency. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they can often alleviate symptoms just as well as prescribed medicines. Many of these plants have been used in traditional native people’s medicine for centuries. If you have any existing medical problems it is always wisest to seek medical advice before taking any natural preparations.

Apple cider vinegar: rich in potassium and enzymes, aids digestion and is a remedy for heartburn, helps regulate blood sugar, helps keep skin clear, claimed by many to prevent a range of ailments and as an aid to dieting. It should not be taken by diabetics as it has the capacity to alter insulin levels. It is quite unpalatable unless it is combined with other ingredients or sweetened with honey or stevia.

Cardamom: it has long been used as a component of traditional medicine in Southern Asia, being used to prevent and treat sore throats, lung congestion and disorders of the digestive system.

cardamom pods

Cayenne pepper: helps control the digestive system, can lower high blood pressure and normalise liver function.

Cinnamon: has long been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments although there is no scientific evidence for any claims.

Eucalyptus oil: inhaling the vapour relieves congestion and aids breathing, antiseptic.

Ginger: aids digestion and improves the appetite if feeling unwell, anti-inflammatory and helps ease arthritis, effective against nausea and motion sickness. There are on-going studies into its efficiency in the fight against cancerous tumours; researchers believe it may prevent or slow their growth.

Honey: anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-viral. The World Health Organisation recommends this as a treatment for sore throats and coughs as they deem it is as effective as commercial preparations, although there is very little concrete scientific evidence. Don’t give it to children under the age of about 18 months or if anyone has a weakened immune system.

Lavender oil: this is mainly used when our cold symptoms are preventing sleep as it has a soporific effect and can also alleviate slight anxiety.

Lemon: contains vitamin C, bioflavonoids, calcium and magnesium, anti-bacterial, antiseptic and aids digestion.

Peppermint oil: aids digestion and soothes the symptoms of colds.

Rosemary oil: used in traditional Indian medicine to alleviate a whole range of ailments.

Sage: fights bacteria, soothes throat inflammation.

Tea tree oil: may be effective against fungal infections, antiseptic.

Turmeric: used to address skin problems, chest pains, sore throats, toothache. There are currently on-going studies into its efficiency at curing cancer and alleviating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

fresh turmeric

General tonic

  • 1½ cups cold water
  • 2tbsp. apple or grape juice
  • 2tbsp. cider vinegar
  • ½teasp. powdered stevia or 1 teasp. honey

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly in a glass and take every day as a preventative measure and a natural defence against colds.

Sage tea

Place 2 tbsp. sage leaves into a mug and top up with boiling water. Allow to steep for 3 – 4 minutes then take out the leaves and sweeten with honey to taste.

tricolour sage

Lemon, ginger and honey

  • fresh lemon
  • fresh ginger
  • honey

Cut lemon into slices and pack into a jar and add some grated ginger.

Fill the jar with honey and stir to combine all the ingredients.

Leave it to infuse for a couple of days.

Drink a tablespoon of the mixture stirred into a glass of hot water for as long as the symptoms persist.

It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Cold prevention mixture (courtesy of Moxie Rx)

This gives the immune system a natural boost and helps keep colds at bay.

  • 1tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2teasp. honey
  • 1teasp. fresh ginger, finely grated
  • ¼teasp. ecinacea extract
  • dash of cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients with a cup of boiling water and let it steep for a couple of minutes before drinking.

Ginger tea

This is used to help clear congestion.

Add peeled and sliced fresh ginger to a cup of boiling water and allow to steep for 3 – 4 minutes.

fresh ginger tuber

Turmeric milk

This is an ancient Indian recipe used to clear most ailments and is taken a couple of times a week as a general preventative medicine and to boost the immune system.

  • 2 cups whole milk; the body needs the full-fat in order to be able to absorb the turmeric
  • ½ - 1teasp. turmeric powder
  • 2 – 3 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 – 3 cardamom pods; cracked
  • ½” fresh ginger; roughly chopped
  • honey to sweeten; optional but recommended

Heat the milk and spices for 2 – 3 minutes without boiling.

Leave to cool until it is just warm.

Strain and add the honey before serving.

Fire cider (courtesy of mommy potamus.com)

This versatile concoction can be drunk straight (1oz) every few days as a preventative measure or a tablespoon can be put in boiling water and the steam inhaled or it can be used as a delicious salad dressing or marinade.

  • ½ cup each of fresh ginger, fresh horseradish and fresh turmeric; all peeled and finely diced
  • ½ cup white onion; chopped
  • ¼ cup garlic; crushed
  • 2 jalapeno peppers; chopped
  • 2 lemons; zest and juice
  • cider vinegar
  • honey to taste

Pack ginger, horseradish, turmeric, garlic, jalapeno, lemon zest and juice into a 1.15ltr. (2pt) jar; until it is about ¾ full, weigh down and cover with cider vinegar.

Line the metal lid with waxed paper otherwise it will corrode.

Place somewhere dark and at room temperature for a month then shake well and strain through muslin.

Add honey to taste and store in the fridge.

lemons growing on tree

Vapour rub

This is easy to make and contains anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties; although it is a natural product it is not for use on young children.

  • 5tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2tbsp. cocoa butter
  • 1½tbsp. beeswax
  • 30 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 12 drops each lavender, rosemary and peppermint essential oils
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil

Gently melt together coconut and cocoa butter, add the beeswax and melt.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then add the essential oils.

Stir well and store in sterilised jars.

Should keep for about 12 months.

Cough mixture (courtesy of Mary Younkin)

This is quite spicy and not suitable for young children. Adult dose is a tablespoon and a teaspoon for children.

  • 2tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 2tbsp. honey
  • 2tbsp. water
  • ¼teasp. cayenne pepper
  • ¼teasp. ground ginger

Place all ingredients into a jar and shake well.

Leave to infuse at room temperature for 2 – 3 days, then shake well before each use.

Chicken noodle soup

This is the classic ‘feel good’ comfort food if you’re feeling a little under the weather.

  • 1tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion; chopped finely
  • 1 chicken
  • 2 large carrots; diced
  • 2 large sticks celery; diced
  • 2 garlic cloves; chopped
  • cupful frozen petit pois peas
  • 2 handsful egg noodles
  • bouquet garni
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 1tbsp. flat leaved parsley; chopped - to garnish

Saute the onions gently in the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan; add the chicken cut into pieces and fry gently until browned.

Add the bouquet garni and cover with water. Simmer gently for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Keep skimming off any scum which accumulates on the surface.

Strain through muslin and wipe the pan clean of any fat which has accumulated on the sides.

Return the liquid to the pan; add the meat off the chicken, carrots and celery then simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

Add the peas and the noodles and simmer for about 7 – 10 minutes until the noodles are soft.

Season to taste and serve with the parsley garnish.

If you would like to know more about growing herbs just get in touch with our gardening team here in store in the Outdoor Plant department.

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas