4 Natural, Science-Backed Ways to Fight a Cold, as Told By a Pharmacist

Mona  Vand

Dr. Mona Vand is a certified pharmacist and wellness expert who advocates for more natural, holistic solutions to pain and discomfort. You can follow her on Instagram and YouTube for daily wellness inspiration.

I think we can all agree that colds are the absolute worst. You’re achy, tired, sedentary, congested, and unproductive. It also doesn’t help that your doctor will usually say that you either have a virus, so you can’t actually do anything about it, or that the only remedy is by taking medicine or antibiotics. I’m not someone who is against taking medicine when necessary, but I usually like to try natural remedies first.

If I feel a cold coming on, there are several things that I do in order to prevent and combat it as much as possible. And these are not things I just made up! These are things that I’ve learned from Ayurvedic practices, folk medicine, ancient rituals, and more. There is legitimate research that has proven that these are effective ways to prevent or combat a cold, so hopefully they can help you, as well.

Fire Cider:

A little disclaimer right off the bat: this remedy tastes absolutely horrible, but it works incredibly well. Fire cider is a mix of apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, horseradish, ginger, turmeric, hot peppers, and lemon—clearly a super-bitter, pungent combination of ingredients. It’s known to be an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal potion that helps ward off colds. It also boosts immune function, increases blood flow and oxygen delivery, breaks up mucus, and can help your body to remove waste from tissues. If your goal is to prevent a cold, I recommend taking one “shot” of this in the morning over the course of a week or two!

Take NAC (N-acetyl L-cysteine):

If you haven’t heard of NAC, it’s an amino acid that our bodies use to build antioxidants. NAC is known for replenishing the most powerful antioxidant in your body, called glutathione, and it’s also known to help with chronic respiratory conditions, fertility and brain health. You can definitely take it on a daily basis, but I highly recommend taking it during cold/flu season; research has shown NAC can reduce both the duration and severity of the flu. In fact, in a large study of older adults, only 25 percent of those taking NAC experienced influenza-like episodes over a six-month period, compared with 79 percent in the placebo group. If you’re an adult and you’re experiencing cold-like symptoms, take 600mg of NAC twice a day for the most optimal recovery.

Oregano Oil:

Oregano oil has been used in many ancient healing practices to treat things like colds, flus, and more. There are so many benefits to incorporating oregano oil into your daily routine, but it’s especially important when you’re either trying to prevent or get rid of a cold. Based on research, the volatile oils in oregano (thymol and carvacrol) have antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties—all of which are extremely helpful when it comes to naturally getting rid of your cold. When shopping for oregano oil supplements, try to find P73 oregano; this is a specific blend of several high-grade medicinal wild oreganos that is known to be the most effective.


Although elderberry’s flu-fighting properties have been recognized in folk medicine, there was a somewhat-recent spike that made the elderberry plant trendier than ever. Maybe you’ve seen elderberry syrup in your local Whole Foods or health store. If you’re unsure what it is, it’s a small fruit from the Sambucus tree that ultimately gets extracted in order to be used to treat influenza, infections, sciatica, headaches, dental pain, heart pain and nerve pain. In a recent study, researchers found “compounds from elderberries can directly inhibit the virus's entry and replication in human cells, and can help strengthen a person's immune response to the virus.” This means that it is an effective treatment of colds and flus, so definitely go grab a bottle or two at your nearest store—or you can also get it from Amazon. 

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Article Sources
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  1. Kurihara, Shigekazu, et al. Effects of -Cystine and -Theanine Supplementation on the Common Cold: A Randomized, Double-Blind, and Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of Amino Acids, vol. 2010, 2010, pp. 1–7., doi:10.4061/2010/307475

  2. Essential Oils of Oregano: Biological Activity beyond Their Antimicrobial Properties. Molecules, vol. 22, no. 6, 2017, p. 989., doi:10.3390/molecules22060989

  3. Torabian, Golnoosh, et al. Anti-Influenza Activity of Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra). Journal of Functional Foods, vol. 54, 2019, pp. 353–360., doi:10.1016/j.jff.2019.01.031

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