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3 Herbal Remedies to Kick a Cold

Carissa Wills-DeMello, of Bilo Herbs

There may not be snow here on the South Coast these days, but that hasn’t curbed the winter cold season. It seems coughs and stuffy noses are getting in everyone’s way lately! Here at Groundwork, our wellness wagon has been getting lots of use– the Emergen-C and Elderberry Syrup have been clutch!

But what are the most effective herbal cold remedies? This is out of my wheelhouse, so for suggestions on where to start I reached out to Carissa Wills-DeMello, a practicing Western Herbalist at Sage Healing Collaborative in Providence, the founder of Bilo Herbs, and a home-remedy enthusiast. So without further ado, here’s what Carissa has to say about herbal cold remedies:

Herbal cold remedies, in Carissa’s words:

Folks around the world have long built and maintained health with the support of the wild and cultivated plants at their fingertips and below their feet. And we still can! Herbal cold remedies are perfectly suited for the common cold, and can be crafted with common ingredients. Try your hand at these simple herbal cold remedies straight from the spice rack! 

herbal cold remedies include fire cider, pictured here

Fire Cider

Maybe you’ve heard of this pungent and potent infused vinegar? Taking a spoonful daily is known to support digestion, warm your constitution, boost immunity and support respiratory function. When you feel a cold coming on, take a dose every 1-3hrs. The antimicrobial ingredients will no doubt help nip it in the bud. To make your own, simply chop up the following ingredients–enough to fill a mason jar about a quarter of the way– Garlic, Ginger, Onion, Horseradish, Jalapeno. Add other culinary herbs for flavor: Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, and Turmeric are great. And use your senses to decide the ratios, there’s no going wrong – though, I suggest going light on the Jalapeno! Next, fill the rest of the jar with raw apple cider vinegar, shake, and let steep with the lid on for one month. (No need to refrigerate.)  At that time, use a cheesecloth to strain your liquid into a clean jar. Add about 1/4-1/2 cup honey per quart of liquid. Shake until dissolved and enjoy!

Sage & Thyme Gargle

A scratchy throat is not only unpleasant but often foretells a cold unfolding. To instantly ease your pain and send those germs running, try this enhancement to a common remedy. Start by steeping 2-3TB each of Sage and Thyme in a closed jar with a cup of boiled water for one hour. Strain and reheat if needed, so that you can dissolve a heaping spoonful of salt in your stong “tea”. Voila, throat rinse! Whenever it crosses your mind, gargle your concoction. The fragrant oils in Sage and Thyme are powerfully antimicrobial, and both herbs gently reduce pain and inflammation. Store your liquid in the fridge between uses.

Spicy Lemonade

Garlic and ginger are back again, this time as a surprisingly refreshing and alkalizing drink for all ages. This will absolutely become your cold season go-to. Start with a quart-sized mason jar, and add 2-4 mashed cloves of garlic and 1-2TB grated ginger. Fill your jar with boiling water and close the lid. Steep for 20-30 min. After that time, strain your liquid and add the juice of half a lemon and a few generous spoons of honey. Sip hot or cold, depending on what your body needs! This remedy supports immunity, banishes unwelcome bugs, and supports healthy detoxification.

Where can I get some?

We’ll be stocking Carissa’s elderberry syrup and fire cider here at Groundwork for our members to purchase. But if you’re not a Groundwork member and want to shop her herbal remedies, you can find them at Haskell Garden’s Herb Shop or at She also welcomes herbal questions, comments and conversations at

Caitlin Joseph