I love living in a city where I don’t have to rely on a car. I walk everywhere I need to go (which usually isn’t too far because not only do  I live in the heart of downtown, but I live in a city which ranks #9 for best walkable city in the US.)

For times when I need to go a bit further, I’ve been spoiled with awesome transportation. I love using transportation as a way to connect with the city. On my route, I find new places to explore, discover new things to do, and have the chance to connect with interesting folk along the way.

And as amazing as that is, as an avid transportation user such as myself, being confined in a small space surrounded by tons of other people leaves me susceptible to all kinds of germs. Seriously. I can’t recall how many times I’ve seen a fellow transiter nonchalantly cough right in my face, or seen some business man on his way to the City (SF) reach deep inside the crevice of his nose and then place his hand on the hand rail (ugh!)  DO YOU PEOPLE HAVE ANY SELF RESPECT? I especially love watching drunk people puking all over the seats I’ll likely sit on given the probability of how frequently I ride the subway.

Enough said. Public transportation=higher likelihood of picking up a pretty nasty bug. Right now, I really want to be enjoying these last few days of summer. But alas. I’m been confined to my apartment, nursing a cold that’s got me K.O.

But fear not, Naturalistas, Mother Nature’s got you covered! Try some of my favorite natural remedies when you feel the sniffles on the horizon, and you’ll be performing your best chaturanga in no time!


Source: Flickr user Atomicshark


Don’t underestimate these pretty little flowers. They pack a punch when it comes to combating a powerful cold. Native Americans have used Echinacea as an herbal remedy for centuries. The roots and flower buds are dried up and used to boost the immune system by increasing the activity of white blood cells. It also raises the level of interferons, a protein released by host cells in response to viruses, bacteria, parasites and tumor cells. Echinacea can be ingested in tea, capsule of tincture form.

According to HowStuffWorks, For acute cold or flu infection: Take 1 teaspoon of tincture every one to three hours, or 1 to 2 capsules every two to three hours for the first day or two; then reduce the dosage to 2 teaspoons tincture or 6 capsules per day for acute colds. For a chronic infectious problem: Take 1/2 teaspoon tincture or 2 capsules echinacea, three times a day for three weeks and then abstain for one week before continuing again.



Source: Flickr user jenorton


Garlic’s another virus fighter for its immune stimulating properties. Eat it whole or crush that bad boy up-either way consuming it raw will provide you with the best benefits. There are over 150 health benefits from garlic! To name a few, garlic is an antibaceterial, reduces the risk of heart disease, normalizes cholesterol and lowers blood pressure, and protects against certain types of cancers.

(It’s also great in warding off bad first dates and vampires!)


Source: Flickr user ajc1


Zinc, an essential trace element, is a popular treatment to cure the common cold. Your body needs just a small amount to boost the immune system. Studies have shown individuals who upped the intake of zinc in their daily value for five months were at reduced risk for catching the cold.

Bell Peppers

yellow bell pepper
Source: Flickr user Denimdave


Bell peppers are an exceptionally high source of Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is important for bone and muscle health, iron intake, collagen formation and keeping your blood flowing smoothly. Some studies have shown that a boost in Vitamin C can reduce a cold from 24-36 hours. One yellow bell pepper boasts and exceptionally high 569% Daily Value (DV), with red placing second at 349%DV, and green placing third with 220% DV. Vitamin C has long been doted as a natural remedy for curbing the cold, although studies in recent years suggest that upping up the intake of vitamin C as a cold remedy has little to no effect. I’m still for team Vitamin C – other benefits like muscle strength help me have a successful workout, sweating it out and leaving me feeling less sluggish.

Chili Peppers

Source: Flickr user davemorris


I love adding chili peppers to my soups when I’m sick. My nostrils are cleared, my body sweats, I instantly feel more energy (maybe from the adrenaline my body has consuming super hot Thai chilies.) Depending on what type of chili you’re eating (in my opinion, the hotter the better), chilies circulate blood flow, reduces congestion by clearing up phlegm, and soothes an itchy throat. I also like to make what I call a “super tea tonic”-boil some water, add some halved lemons, cayenne pepper and honey. CAUTION! Only consume as much as you can tolerate!


Source: Flickr user Foodthinkers


As I previously stated, honey is one of my essential ingredients for my “super tea tonic.” I had the whooping cough as an infant, and to this day, my coughs have been known to be exceptionally viscous. That’s where honey steps in- studies have shown honey to be an effective cough suppressant as well as soothing for a sore throat. Aside from using it in my teas, after a long night of the coughs, I like to take about a tablespoon sized of raw honey. I love the way it slides down my aching throat (keep it PG, folks!), I can feel the difference instantaneously. WARNING: Honey is considered a food poison for children aged 1 and younger.


Source: Flickr user Greatist


Ginger’s not just great for curing a bad tummy ache, its also great in reducing cold symptoms. Like honey, this spicy little root aids as an antihistamine and decongestant. I like to take ginger tea with me when I’m on the go, or cozy up by my imaginary fireplace and sip on a hot bowl of spicy ginger soup.


Source: Flickr user Chug


How can the main ingredient in my super tea tonic not make the list? Overall, citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. Lemons are also great in fighting phlegm, so drink up and cough out all that guck! Because lemons are quite acidic,  the low pH levels in lemons make them great antioxidants. And before your trash that lemon, use remaining lemon juice to clean up your pots and pans!



Source: Flickr user wonderferret


Peppermint is one of the more popular herbs for treating the common cold. Peppermint aids in nausea, abdominal pain, indigestion and bloating. I like to mix a drop of the essential oil with some olive oil and rub the concoction over my chest. Peppermint oil is VERY potent, so use 1 drop oil for 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. The menthol in peppermint opens up my nasal passageways, allowing me to breathe sniff-free. Traditionally taken, peppermint tea is great too. And if it’s the holly season, it’s okay to snatch a peppermint stick off the Christmas tree if nobody’s looking.



Source: Flickr user cherriemio


I have recently been turned onto the powerful benefits of turmeric. My partner, who is Indian, uses turmeric by the loads for many of his dishes. India has been using turmeric for thousands of years as a medicinal herb, as well as spice (can we say curry, please?)  Turmeric contains  curcumin, a strong antioxidant. Taking an extract of turmeric will best provide you with the antioxidant benefits, as a concentration will yield higher amounts of curcumin. It’s also a great anti-depressant, so you won’t feel so bluesy when you’re forced to stay indoors.

Happy healing!


1229986_10202023545923407_746320165_nMonica Cadena is an Oakland based writer. She focuses on community issues pertaining to urban planning and food justice. She also enjoys writing about arts and culture, particularly her love of music. She studied urban planning at San Francisco State University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys conjuring up new recipes in her kitchen, or enjoying all the Town has to offer.