Cold-Busting Remedies

With the weather spiking and dropping from day to day—and even hour to hour!—your immune system could very likely be taking a hit. It’s accepted wisdom that cold temperatures make you sick; well, this isn’t exactly true: cold temperatures—and even more importantly—dry climates—allow the viruses that cause colds to spread more easily. So it’s actually a lot more about humidity than temperature, according to Ray Casciari, a pulmonologist quoted in The Atlantic. When the level of moisture in the air drops, this causes you to dry out too: your eyes, throat, nose stop producing mucus—one of our bodies’ important lines of defense—and this makes you more susceptible to bacteria. 

And in Chinese medicine, it is the wind, known as “the carrier of one hundred evils” that causes these pathogens to spread so quickly. As I discuss in my article on fall, “When the acupuncture points (wind points) on the back of your neck are exposed and vulnerable to the wind and cold, pathogens can enter, causing us to get sick. We call the invasion by pathogens a ‘wind-cold attack’ in Chinese medicine.”

But nothing says that as soon as the weather drops, you get sick. Which is great news! Because it means you can arm yourself against the dryness and subsequent influx of nasty viruses with a number of effective strategies—one of which should be your automatic move as soon as you feel that cold wind gusting in: wear a scarf! A scarf will cover those wind points and add an extra layer of defense.

 I outline a few of my other, equally simple favorites below!

Jen’s Favorite Cold-Busting Remedies

Oil of Oregano

What is it?

Oil of Oregano has long been used to fight bacterial and intestinal infections because of its antimicrobial properties–specifically due to oregano’s volatile oils: thymol and carvacrol, which are antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. In fact, Johns Hopkins conducted a study in 2013 about the potential of using essential oils, including oregano oil, to create future antibiotics, as we are seeing more and more bacteria becoming antibiotic-resistant, a frightening reality.

How do I use it?

Dr. Andrew Weil recommends using a few drops as part of a steam inhalation therapy for sinus infections. I personally recommend getting an oil of oregano tincture and adding the liquid drops to a little water or juice, and taking it quickly like a shot as the flavor is quite potent.

Zinc Lozenges

What is it?

Zinc is a necessary nutrient for the proper maintenance of your body. It supports your immune system, aids in wound-healing, blood-clotting, and much more. And many studies have shown that it may be effective in fighting the common cold. The Mayo Clinic reported on a study that found that zinc can reduce the length of your cold by a day—especially if you start taking it within 24 hours of the very first signs of the virus. They also say that it may be more effective when taken in lozenge or syrup form, since the rhinovirus—the common cold–thrives in the nasal passages and throat. The zinc can help stop the virus from spreading in these areas.

NOTE: Zinc nasal spray is not recommended as it has been shown to cause permanent loss of smell in some cases, according to the FDA. You also want to be careful how much zinc you’re ingesting: The Institute of Medicine has set the tolerable limit for adults at 40 milligrams a day.

How do I use it?

I start popping zinc lozenges at the very first signs that I’m getting a cold: a sore/tender/swollen throat or glands, sneezing, etc. Obviously, as mentioned above, you don’t want to overdose, but instead of popping those cough drops that are full of sugar and no vitamins or minerals, suck on some that will actually help you kick that sniffle! I particularly like Source Naturals Wellness Zinc Lozenges.


What is it?

A wildflower native to North America, echinacea is thought to stimulate the immune system, pushing it to send out its defenses at the first signs of the rhinovirus, and to shorten the duration of the common cold. Some studies have also shown that echinacea can reduce cold symptoms once you’ve already contracted the virus.

How do I use it?

Echinacea capsules are effective and easy—you can start taking them when you first sense some upper-respiratory irritation (make sure they are between 300-600 mg). But most effective is actually fresh-pressed juice OR tincture of echinacea. I personally use Source Naturals Wellness Herbal Resistance or sip on Traditional Medicinals Organic Echinacea Plus Seasonal Tea. What is key either way is taking the herb—in whatever form—frequently throughout the day so that you are delivering a powerful kick to your immune system.

Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath

What is it?

I love Dr. Singha products because they really focus on delivering the proper care for your skin, your body’s largest organ! Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath, when added to a super hot bath, will seriously cleanse your system. It contains a number of good cold-busting remedies, including eucalyptus, so you’re really getting two cold-busters for the price of one!

How do I use it?

Check out Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath in the Shine Soul Bright Store or for more details on how best to use it, read my post, When you need to detox, relax and alkalize, discover Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath and Mustard Rub.


What is it?

Yes, it causes stinky breath, but you might want to just suck it up: a study showed that people who took garlic supplements for 12 weeks between the peak cold months (November to February) had fewer colds than those on a placebo. And even when those people did get colds, they saw their symptoms go away faster than those in the placebo group.

How do I use it?

You can always just add more to your cooking—I actually sometimes like to crush it with a garlic crusher and add it to my salad dressings; that way, I’m getting the raw garlic goodness but not eating huge chunks of it! If you’re very brave, you can mince it finely, mix it with honey and olive oil and spread it on toast.

Eucalyptus Essential Oil

What is it?

As I explain in my post on eucalyptus, the plant is a kind of wonder plant, with analgesic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating properties. Mix it with some peppermint oil and those sinuses will get a powerful clear-out!

How do I use it?

I love to use an essential oil diffuser in my office and set it with eucalyptus around this time of year, filling the space with a lovely scent at the same time that it’s clearing your sinuses! Check out the Vitruvi Stone Diffuser, Hand-Crafted Ultrasonic Essential oil Diffuser as well as doTERRA – Eucalyptus Radiata Essential Oil.

Ginger Turmeric Tea

What is it?

Check out my post on Turmeric to dive into all the details of the amazing health benefits of turmeric. Turmeric and ginger are actually related to each other and are both gentle, calming and soothing, due to their anti-inflammatory properties.

How do I use it?

My favorite brand of tea that makes this combination is Numi Organic Turmeric Tea Three Roots, which mixes turmeric with ginger, licorice and rose. You can also brew your own ginger turmeric infusion, by boiling down fresh ginger and turmeric roots to a syrupy reduction, and mixing with hot water (and tea bags if you like!).

Chinese Herbs!

A licensed acupuncturist like myself can prescribe Chinese herbal medicine to kick a cold quickly. We can formulate an herbal formula specific to your symptoms, there are Chinese herbal formulas for every stage of a cold, so whether you have a slight tickle in your throat and feel on the verge of getting sick or have a full blown fever and are lying at home sick, we can prescribe a medicinal formula for your exact needs.

A miserable cold does not have to be an inevitability for you when the weather gets colder! Armor up with the right defenses, and you can spend less time in bed and more time embracing the season.


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