Pelargonium sidoides. Long valued as a tried-and-true natural remedy in its native South Africa, pelargonium sidoides (also known as Umcka) is a type of plant useful for fighting colds and other respiratory infections. “It has a strong traditional use in treating colds and there are also a number of studies showing its efficacy in bronchitis,” notes Dr. Diana Coffa, assistant medical director at the Family Health Center at San Francisco General Hospital. The roots of the plant are used to make tinctures and tablets which may shorten a cold's length and ease symptoms if taken as soon as you begin feeling sick.
Andrographis paniculata. An endemic plant of Southeast Asia, andrographis paniculata has long been utilized in traditional Indian medicine and is now backed by studies showing its usefulness in battling upper respiration infections. “I have been recommending this herb to patients a lot lately to shorten the duration and reduce the severity of the cold,” says Dr. Jamie Corroon, ND, a naturopathic physician at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University. He recommends taking 200 – 400 milligrams in tablet or capsule form two to three times daily throughout the course of the cold.
Honey. Soothing and sweet, honey is helpful for calming a cough in cold sufferers of almost all ages. “With both adults and children, honey is my first-line therapy for cough,” Dr. Coffa says. This natural remedy is especially useful for children, since it doesn't have the same potential side effects that over-the-counter cough syrups do. “The cough medicines we have at the pharmacies are really kind of lousy,” Dr. Coffa notes. “Research shows that head-to-head with cough syrup, honey is as effective or more effective.”