istock/Vitalina Although oregano is best known for giving pizza and pasta an extra kick, Patrick Fratellone, MD, a leading integrative medicine doctor and registered herbalist with the American Herbal Guild, recommends reaching for this herb to treat a hacking cough. “Oregano is a powerhouse of flu-fighting properties, since it’s antibacterial, antifungal, and an antioxidant, and it can also be used as an expectorant to treat lung or respiratory conditions,” says Dr. Fratellone.
You could take an oregano capsule twice a day with meals, but if all you have on hand is a bottle of the dried herb, you can make an oregano tea: Pour eight ounces of boiling water over one teaspoon of dried oregano and let stand for ten minutes. If the taste is too bitter, add some raw honey. Aim to drink two cups a day. This elixir can also be used topically to treat skin infections and calm down an upset stomach. Check out 10 natural cold remedies that are always worth trying.
istock/amite This woody aromatic herb in your culinary closet has secret powers besides flavoring oatmeal and cookies, and deserves to be on your list of natural cold remedies. Because of cinnamon’s antifungal and analgesic properties, Dr. Fratellone uses it to treat bronchitis. It tends to be warming for the body, and it dilates your blood vessels, he says. (Cinnamon also lowers blood sugar concentration and improves insulin sensitivity, which is why it is also being used to treat people who have diabetes.) If you’re looking to fight a bug with natural cold remedies, create a cinnamon tea by pouring boiling water over the herb into a cup. Dr. Fratellone recommends one cup two or three times a day. You can also sprinkle it on your food or in your latte.
istock/GooDween123 This stinky plant does way more than flavor your tomato sauce. Garlic is antibiotic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial, says clinical herbalist and New York City–based founder of Urban Herbalist Steve Sietos. “When you have yellow or green phlegm, reach for that garlic. It’s highly antiviral, immune stimulating, and it’ll kill any upper respiratory infections,” he says. Garlic is great medicine for yeast infections and urinary tract infections, too, according to research from the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences in India.
To use it as an elixir, take a clove of fresh garlic. Press or chop it, and let it sit for 15 minutes. When the garlic reacts with air, a chemical reaction transforms the clove into a powerful antibiotic, says Sietos, who also treats pets with herbs. He says that if you spread garlic and olive oil on a piece of bread or mix it with olive oil, it’ll knock out any upper respiratory infections. Here are 14 more of the best foods for a cold.