Herbal Remedies for Cough and Cold

Starting treatment for cold and flu symptoms early can make a difference, keeping a minor illness from developing into something much more serious. As always, rest, proper hydration and a healthy diet are important to staying healthy and regaining your health when ill. However, boosting your natural immunity, fighting fever and reducing other symptoms with herbal remedies can make you rest a little easier while helping battle the common cold. As with any home remedy, make sure you are clear on the herbs you are selecting and be cautious in regards to allergic reactions. If symptoms get worst, persist or other issues arise, seek medical advice immediately.


Echinacea (Echnacea purpurea) has natural antibiotic and immune boosting properties. It has been shown to reduce the duration of the common cold and flu. It can be used to treat coughs, colds, the flu, sinusitis, asthma, throat infections, bronchitis, and catarrh. It can be taken as a tincture along or mixed with elderberry.

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has antiviral and immune boosting properties and has been show to reduce the duration of the common cold and flu. It is a traditional home remedy used to treat colds, coughs, and sore throats for adults and children. It can be used as a decoction, tincture or syrup.

Elecampane (Inula helenium) is an extremely useful herb for dealing with chest complaints. It can help clear away mucus and has a warming and tonic effect in the lungs. It also has antibacterial properties. Use elecampane in a tincture of decoction to relieve the symptoms of chronic cough, chest infection, bronchitis or asthma.

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) has immune boosting, antibacterial, and decongestant properties. Inhale the steam produced from a few leaves, or drops of essential oil, added to hot water or use in a chest salve. Treats the symptoms of coughs, flu, colds, sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma or throat infections.

Garlic(Allium sativum) is an anti-carrhal and respiratory antiseptic. It can be added to food, taken as a capsule, or made into a cough syrup to treat many symptoms. It is effective with chest infections, ear infections, bronchitis, colds, flu and excess catarrh.

Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is an herb that can act as an expectorant and anti-inflammatory. It is a traditional herb in remedies throughout Europe and Chinese medicine, licorice powder or a tincture, can be combined with other appropriate herbs to treat bronchitis, catarrh, coughs, and respiratory infections.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a soothing herb with expectorant properties that can be used to treat bronchitis, tracheitis and irritating coughs. It can also help to dispel excess catarrh. An infusion of mullein and coltsfoot is recommended. Mullein macerated oil can be used externally to relieve earache by applying to the outer ear with a cotton ball.

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a astringent and tonic herb that is useful in reducing the pain of sore throats. An infusion or tincture can be used to reduce the symptoms of tonsillitis, laryngitis, sore throat, gum irritation and other mouth problems. It can be drunk or gargled. Avoid using this treatment when pregnant.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is an effective treatment for infections that involve coughing because of its antiseptic and expectorant properties. An infusion or tincture made with thyme and other appropriate herbs can be used to treat throat and chest infections, pleurisy, whooping cough and bronchitis.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) can help reduce the fevers that often come with colds and flu through promoting sweating. It also has properties that help boost your natural immunity. Yarrow, combined with elderflower and peppermint, make an effective tea for soothing cold symptoms. The tea can be taken three times a day, however it should be avoided during pregnancy.

I recommend doing some diligent research about the herbs you plan to use in herbal remedies. If you are growing and harvesting your own plants, make sure that you properly identify each plant prior to using. If you are buying roots or herbs for use, make sure that you are using a reputable source and that you buy something acceptable for internal use. Start with using the smallest amount possible, and test for adverse reactions before committing to any herbal treatment.

Make sure you know what you are treating, how your body will react to what you are using, and the exact ingredients you are using. An allergic reaction or misidentified plant can do more harm than just leaving things alone. If you create your own combinations or routine, or plan to experiment to find the best one for you, then I highly suggest keeping a notebook. Finding the perfect combination of herbs to soothe your cold or respiratory complaints is wonderful, but less so if you cannot recreate it. Taking the time and care to consult your doctor is always recommended, particularly is your problem is chronic or you are on any medication. It is always better safe then sorry when it comes to your health.


Natural, Effective Remedies for Colds and Flu, Linda B. White M.D.

Medicinal Herb Chart, Annie’s Remedy Essential Oils and Herbs