Coughs and colds can leave you feeling miserable–and so can the over-the-counter drugs being peddled to treat them. So the next time a bad cold or cough hits, put down the blister packs and bottles of colorful pills, and head to your kitchen instead. Healing foods full of anti-inflammatory compounds and natural antiviral compounds can work wonders without the side effects of drowsiness, jitteriness, and all-over funkiness.

Here are some natural remedies that will treat your cough and cold effectively.

1. Lemon

Christopher Hobbs, a fourth-generation California herbalist and author of several books on herbal medicine, suggests a formula that is worth taking two or three times a day for a cough. Add 2 teaspoons of organic lemon rind, 1 teaspoon of sage, and ½ teaspoon of thyme to boiling water and steep for 15 minutes. Then add the juice of half a lemon and 1 tablespoon of honey. Remember to use organic lemon rind because the pesticides used on citrus fruits are extremely hard to wash off.

2. Honey

The World Health Organization has cited honey as a potential remedy for colds because it coats the throat and relieves irritation (which is what usually triggers a cough). It also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, which help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

3. Raw or lightly cooked garlic

It’s rich in chemical compounds that help inhibit cough-causing viruses in the respiratory tract, says pediatrician Stuart Ditchek, MD. Garlic is a wonderful natural antibiotic that can assist in fighting off colds and common upper respiratory infections. “Extracts of aged garlic can be used as well,” he says. Try to eat two to four garlic cloves daily, Dr. Ditchek says.

4. Ginger tea

Ginger acts as a potent natural anti-inflammatory herbal agent. Most people use ginger tea as a way to soothe their painful throats, although fresh ginger from the produce section of your local supermarket is also good.

5. Sage

Sage is one of the very best sore throat and cough remedies. The leaves can be chewed and the juice swallowed to soothe a sore throat; swallowing the healing and anesthetic juice numbs the unpleasant soreness and helps speed healing. Sage-lemon tea is an excellent drink for treating colds and flu, especially if you add some thyme for extra antibacterial action.

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