Herbal Protocol To Beat A Cold

Last winter when I was in Michigan I barely got ill – I didn’t even deal with a simple cold and I was pretty amazed at that. I felt like my immune system was really on track. This winter, being in Istanbul, exposed to germs from thousands of different people nearly every day, getting more tired than I was last year and so on, I caught a bad cold. I had a painful sore throat, I was congested, and I had a cough that would keep me up at night. The cough was not too dry nor too wet, kind of in between. Thankfully, it cleared up within a few days.

So the first thing I did upon waking up with a sore throat was to take a spoonful of my homemade Fire Cider (recipe below). Fire Cider which is a traditional herbal remedy (and not a trademark) is great for the body: it’s warming and it boosts immunity. Next, I combined some good quality honey with my mom’s black seed (Nigella sativa) oil and took a teaspoon of that. This I find very soothing. I use about 1:1 ratio of honey & black seed oil.

For my cough, I blended thyme, oregano & rosemary and drank that as an infusion about 3 times a day. I had fresh in hand, but you can also use them in dried form. I did a simple steam bath using eucalyptus oil to help with the congestion. At night when my cough would come around and prevent me from falling asleep, I would make any simple herbal tea (ginger, nettle, holy basil, mint etc.) and drink that while still very warm with some honey and that would usually ease the cough. So below are the recipes. The measurements are not all exact. Just go by your gut feeling but I’ll give you a rough idea! The key to natural medicine is to keep consistent. Don’t do it once and expect a miracle to happen.


Traditional Fire Cider

1 L mason jar

1 bulb of garlic

1 onion

1 piece of ginger, approx. 3″ in length

1 piece of horseradish, approx. 3″ in length

3 jalapeños de-seeded, or 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper powder

raw honey

apple cider vinegar

Excluding the honey – grate, blend or chop all the ingredients. Place in jar. Fill the jar with ACV. Cover with a lid and place the jar in a cool spot with no direct sunlight. Give the jar a gentle shake every now and then. After 4-6 weeks, strain the jar using a cheesecloth. Add honey to taste. Take 2-3 spoons, 2-3x a day while fighting a cold/flu.

This is the typical recipe. From here you can tweak it as it suits you. When I thought it was time for me to make fire cider, I didn’t have horseradish nor did I have any jalapeños or cayenne pepper. I had bought organic apple cider vinegar, a little hard to find in Istanbul, and I didn’t want to procrastinate any longer. So I combined garlic, onion, ginger, red chili flakes and I also included some dried rosemary, dried olive leaves & turmeric powder. Here is a video of Rosemary Gladstar making some fire cider.


Tea for Cough

1 part oregano, dried or fresh

1 part thyme, dried or fresh

1 part rosemary, dried or fresh

If you’re making one cup, you should use at least a teaspoon of herbs. Add boiled water over the herbs. Cover and steep for up to 20 minutes.


Nasal Rinse for Congestion

1/4 tsp of sea salt or Himalayan salt

1 cup of boiled drinking water (does not have to be hot but the salt will melt better in warmer water)

Combine salt and boiled water. The reason for boiling the water is to make sure all germs in the water are killed before you rinse your nose. We don’t want any germs where there are already some germs! So for this you use a neti pot. I don’t actually have one of those, so I do what we do during ablution to rinse our nose… Take some with the palm of my hand, ‘breathe in’ the water, and blow it. Of course you need to keep your hand near by with your thumb and index finger around your nostrils to catch whatever comes out, over the sink. If you’re a practicing Muslim, you will know how to do this pretty well. If this sounds complicated, just stick to the neti pot if you have one.


Eucalyptus Steam Bath for Congestion

5-6 cups of water in a stainless steel pot, newly boiled

2-4 drops of eucalyptus essential oil

Once the water boils, turn off the heat. Take the pot to a safe space on a table. Add the essential oil. In order to trap the steam put a towel over your head and bring your head over the pot to inhale the steam. You might want to take a second before you approach the pot to inhale the steam after you add the EO because it might be really strong at first. It’s a good idea to keep your eyes closed too. Do this for a couple of minutes at least, taking deep breaths. It’s very soothing. While you’re at it, if you’re suffering from weatherworn dry skin, slather your face with some coconut oil right after the steam bath since your pores will be open!

An alternative to this, if you don’t have eucalyptus EO, is another EO such as peppermint. If you don’t have any EOs or you’d rather not use any, you can bring some water to a boil, add some aromatic herbs such as mint, eucalyptus, oregano, thyme, rosemary, simmer for 10-15 minutes and use this as a steam bath.


Wishing you health & wellness.


Disclaimer: The information provided is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider for serious health concerns or before following any alternative treatment.

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