Mother Earth Living

Natural Health

Better living through nature

Add to My MSN

Natural Remedies for Nasal Congestion, Sore Throat and Aching Muscles

4/22/2010 1:43:00 PM

Tags: natural remedies, congestion, sore throat, illness, sick, lemon juice, steam, apple cider vinegar, honey, cayenne pepper, ginger

I was home sick this week with a stuffy nose, sore throat and aching muscles—all the symptoms of a cold or flu. So what does a natural health blogger do when she’s sick? Research the effectiveness of natural flu and cold remedies, of course!

Nasal Congestion

After a sleepless night of difficult breathing, the first thing I wanted to fix was my congested head.

Steam: One of the oldest remedies for clearing your nasal passages is to fill them with steam. The moist air loosens the gunk in your nose and throat and helps to move the mucus along. As the only requirement for this remedy is a source of hot water, you can try this trick in a variety of places: in the shower, over the stove while you're cooking, with a cup of tea at work, etc.

Steam tent
If you're having trouble breathing because your nose is clogged, cover your head and a bowl of hot water with a towel and inhale the steam. The moisture will move the mucus along, helping you to breathe again. Photo By assbach/Courtesy Flickr 

Wanting maximum relief, I opted for the "steam tent". For this remedy, boil a pot of water on the stove. When steam starts to rise, drape a towel over your head, lean over the pot and inhale. The towel should trap the steam in. Naturally, make sure to keep your face at a safe distance from the pot so as not to scald your skin.

Although I felt somewhat silly bowed over the stove with a towel draped over my head, I found this remedy effective. While my nose wasn't completely cleared, my breathing was almost normal after the steam tent!

Sore Throat 

Once I could breathe again, I turned my attention to my sore throat. A quick Internet search found a variety of remedies and cure-alls for this ailment, from drinking a cup of tea to gargling with salt water to sipping on a hot toddy.

Lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey and cayenne pepper tea: Among all the natural remedies I turned up for a sore throat, these four items appeared the most. The acidity in lemon juice and apple cider vinegar kills bacteria, honey soothes and heals, and cayenne pepper is a pain killer and healing aid.

Sore Throat Remedy

I felt overwhelmed with the multiple possibilities of mixing these ingredients, so I started with a tea recipe that called for all four: 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of honey, juice from a fourth of a lemon and a dash of cayenne pepper mixed well in a cup of hot water.

Although it sounds disgusting, the ingredients were in such minimal amounts that they didn’t overwhelm my palette (or gag reflex). However, because the ingredients were in such minimal form, I found the pain relief to be minimal as well.

Tea with honey and lemon
To ease the pain of a sore throat, add lemon juice, honey and apple cider vinegar to a cup of tea. Photo By boo lee/Courtesy Flickr 

Cayenne pepper gargle: My throat felt slightly less sore after the tea, so—with a little bit of new-found faith in the ingredients—I tried a different approach: the cayenne pepper gargle.

To make the gargle, I mixed about half a glass of warm water with half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I gargled with the mixture a few times. After gargling, my mouth felt on fire—but my throat felt much better!

Side note: The key with any sore throat treatment is to persist with it. Gargle once every hour or have a few cups of tea to get the best results.

Aching Muscles

Ginger bath: With my nose and throat feeling better, I turned to my final complaint—my aching body. To soothe my muscles, I shaved about four tablespoons of a fresh ginger root, placed them in a cloth bag and let hot water run over them while I drew a bath. Ginger’s warming properties increase circulation and help muscles to relax. The ginger bath relaxed my whole body and let me get a few hours of desperately need sleep.

These are only a few natural remedies for cold and flu symptoms. What remedies do you use when you’re sick? What works for you, and what doesn’t? Share your favorite remedies in the comments section for all readers to benefit!

Related Content

For Your Health: Relieve Your Sore Throat

Treat your dry, itchy throat this winter with these herbal remedies

15 Ways to Survive the Cold and Flu Season

Bypass cold and flu season this year with natural remedies, herbal supplements, TLC and a little com...

The Compton Try: Naturally Soothe Aching Muscles

Getting back in shape to prepare for the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure requires exerc...

Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu Season

Ease your cold and flu symptoms this season with these tried-and-true natural remedies.

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.