How to fight a cold the natural way

December 12, 2016

Suffering from a nasty cough but don’t want to pump yourself full of drugs? Trying to take preventative action so that sniffle doesn’t turn into a full-blown festive buzzkill of a cold? Then you want to read this…

I recently attended an event on how to have a healthy and stress-free Christmas and naturally fight the bugs that lurk around this time of year. Hosted by Katie Ruane, a naturopathic physician who runs the Harley Street Naturopath, the event focused on simple things you can do everyday to help beat the dreaded lurgy.

This couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time for me.

My PR consultancy business is growing way more than I could have hoped, I’m launching a new course, maintaining this blog, and just trying to keep my head above water.

Add to this that I’ve been playing catch up since returning from my trip to Bali (you can see more of that here), and December is a short month but the workload isn’t any lighter… well as you may have gathered, just writing about it sends me into a tailspin.

But you may be thinking, what does being busy have to do with suffering from coughs and colds? Well quite simply, stress runs you down, lowers your immune system and makes you way more susceptible to all the germs that do the rounds over winter. And as I write this article, I am fighting a cold, and using the advice I picked up at the event in earnest. As they seem to be working, I wanted to share the insight I picked up with you all.

I learnt that you don’t need a fully stocked medicine cabinet to get you through the winter. In fact, you don’t even need deep pockets. Some of the tips don’t cost a penny, and just need to be incorporated into your routine.

So here are Katie’s natural cold remedies (plus a whole lot more).

Essential Oil Therapy

Lavender field

The following three oils are anti-bacterial and anti-viral so will help boost the immune system when you feel the first cough, scratch, tickle or sneeze:

  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea Tree

Essential oils are very versatile. You can put two drops of each on a tissue and inhale. If you are putting the tissue under your pillow at night, make sure the drops are dry in case they stain the pillow cover.

You can put two drops of each in the bath – make sure you really swirl the water around to disperse them before you get in. You can get an oil burner (Amazon, Neal’s Yard, health food shops, etc.) and put a drop of each in that during the day or night – make sure it’s completely safe and nothing will catch fire.

You can also put Tea Tree directly onto your skin. Do a patch test first on the inside of your wrist. Put one drop on and leave for 10 minutes. If there isn’t a reaction and you have a sore throat, rub a drop onto the skin directly over your throat a few times a day. If you react by the skin going red, burning, itching etc., wash it off immediately with warm water.


Skin Brushing

Skin brushing stimulates the lymph system which is where the immune cells lives. The lymph system is like the blood system made up of vessels that are all over the body, but is different because it doesn’t have a pump to move it around the body. (The circulatory system has the heart to do that). This is why daily skin brushing is important as it helps to move the lymph keeping it healthy and able to fight infection more quickly. You can get a skin brush from boots, health food shops, good pharmacies and Amazon. If you want to buy one, make sure it’s made from natural fibres.

Start at the feet and move up the body towards the heart. Be gentle as the skin is sensitive but as your body gets used to it you will be able to brush harder.



Shower head with water flowing

Hot and cool/cold showers sound horrible but they aren’t too bad. Have your shower as normal and then increase the temperature slightly so your skin is nice and pink. If you have a removable shower head take it down and turn it away from the body whilst you change the temperature to cool*. If it’s attached, stand to the side whilst the water changes temperature.

Stand under the cool for around 10 seconds if you can for that long, if not, for as many seconds as you can. Don’t do it for longer than 30 seconds, then stop the shower and pat yourself dry. The reason you pat yourself dry is that the hot shower makes all the blood vessels open and brings the blood up to the surface. The sudden change in temperature makes the blood vessel constrict very quickly and sends the blood deep within the body.

If you rub yourself dry you will cause heat that will interfere with this process. You want the body to warm up at its natural rate bringing blood and fresh oxygen and nutrients back up to the surface. (If you do this regularly you will also notice that you don’t feel the cold as much and your hands and feet are warmer).

*the temperature change doesn’t have to be huge, the body registers the smallest change and cool will have a big impact. As you get used to it, you will be able to have greater temperature changes from hot to cold.


Nutritional Therapy  

Garlic bulbs

Garlic – when you use it in cooking cut it up roughly rather than using a garlic press as it helps to preserve the nutrients whilst cooking. Garlic is anti-bacterial.

Red Onion – contains the compound quercetin that is an anti-oxidant. It also helps to reduce stress in the body which can make you succumb to coughs and colds.

Ginger – highly anti-bacterial and anti-viral. If you make juices or smoothies add it to that, or make dishes that have ginger as an ingredient. Try not to grate it before cooking as you will damage the active compounds.

Turmeric – your new best friend. Include it in cooking as often as possible. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin that is amazing at fighting colds and viruses due to its anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. You can also put powdered turmeric in juices/smoothies. Always add a bit of black pepper so the body can absorb more.

An ideal way to get these – eat homemade curry regularly!  (For some HalimaBobs curry recipes, check out my lamb curry, mattar paneeraloo gobi, and spicy Bangladeshi tomato salad.)


Herbal Medicine Tea Ideas

Lemon tea

Ginger, Lemon and Honey and Cinnamon Tea

1 cup boiling water

11⁄2 inches of ginger roughly chopped

1⁄2 lemon squeezed

1 teaspoon honey

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (cinnamon is an antiseptic and helps with sore throats)

Leave the tea for 15-20 minutes before drinking.

Ginger, Lemon and Honey (and Garlic) Tea

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1.5 inches of ginger roughly chopped
  • 0.5 lemon squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 crushed or chopped clove garlic

Leave the tea for 15-20 minutes before drinking.

Ginger and Turmeric Tea

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1.5 inches of turmeric roughly chopped. 1.5 inches of ginger roughly chopped
  • 0.5 lemon squeezed
  • A sprinkle of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of honey if you want

Leave the tea for 15-20 minutes before drinking.


So those are Katie’s top tips to fight colds the natural way. Do you have any natural remedies to keep the sniffles at bay? Share your tips in a comment below.



About the Author


I’m a British-Bengali Muslim mum-of-two. My pictures aren’t filtered and neither are my words. I’m not a makeup artist, chef or lifestyle guru. I’m just me, sharing honest beauty reviews for brown skin, halal restaurant finds, travel inspo, mum life hacks, easy Bengali recipes and more. If that’s your bag, keep reading!

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