Four Quirky Home Remedies to Replace Your Cold Medicine

Andria Chen/ Staff Illustrator

Aryana Sherzai

The endless midterm season at UCSB has commenced, and getting sick is not on any student’s agenda. Those who have already contracted the infamous flu must drag their achy bodies to lecture with running noses and swollen throats, while the last-standing healthy students endure 75 minutes distracted by echoing coughs and sniffles.

Although a cold is incurable, the immune system appreciates a boost every now and then. Humans have come up with quirky methods to quicken recovery, some which continue to be considered viable by more than just their main supporters. To prevent an infection or fight off irritating symptoms, avoid a trip to the doctor’s and give the following concoctions a try at home.

Hot Toddy

Anyone with Irish or Scottish heritage has probably forced down a hot toddy or two in their lifetime. This whiskey-based remedy combines throat-soothing hot water and honey with an alcohol-induced sleep that will knock you out for a well-rested night.

If you think it’s worth a shot, here’s the recipe:

  • 2 ounces of whiskey (preferably Jack Daniel’s or Jameson)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 4 ounces of hot water
  • 1 slice of lemon (optional)

Combine the ingredients in a microwave-safe mug and heat for one minute. Drink up and drift off.

Coconut Oil

These days, every new fad seems to revolve around the omnipotent coconut oil. From cooking to moisturizing to teeth-whitening, coconut oil now makes its way into the medicinal field to take on a sore throat. Kick the old saltwater gargle trick to the dust and replace it with a heaping teaspoon of coconut oil instead.

If swallowing pure coconut oil sounds particularly distasteful, try this homemade cough syrup recipe instead. In a small saucepan on low heat, mix the following ingredients, melting them together without actually cooking:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup local raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil

Add the mixture to a cup of hot water or tea and sip to grease up a dry esophagus.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Another alleged immune-system booster, throat-soother, and congestion-reducer is apple cider vinegar. Many claims have been made regarding apple cider vinegar’s supposed benefits, such as clearing acne or relieving acid reflux, which continue to incite debate. However, the traditional use of vinegar as a disinfectant can supposedly be applied to the body, creating an alkaline environment that kills off bacteria.

To ingest or gargle apple cider vinegar most effectively, safely, and tolerably, add 8 ounces of water to every tablespoon. It’s recommended not to drink it straight, considering it burns worse than alcohol and may cause damage to the esophagus.


As soon as the sickness starts giving its warning signs with that “drip” feeling in the back of your throat, your first inclination is to pour a tall glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice to rev up your immune system. The immune system employs vitamin C to stimulate specific transporter molecules that work to fight off infection and reduce inflammation. To replenish your body’s source of the nutrient, eat and drink vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables. Orange juice, with its additional benefits as a source of fiber, minerals, and delicious taste, is the most enjoyable natural way to load up on vitamin C.

It’s important to note that too much vitamin C can have negative effects as well. Consuming a megadose of about 2000 or more milligrams potentially leads to nausea, headache, vomiting, or similarly unpleasant maladies. To avoid worsening your chances of getting to class, the recommended daily amount between 65 and 90 milligrams can easily be achieved through a healthy, colorful diet.

Whether they successfully alleviate symptoms or not, these home remedies are all-natural. Ingesting over-the-counter or prescription medications might reduce symptoms, but often have no more than a placebo effect. In contrast, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, and honey all have added benefits that, whether they cure a cold or not, will still be beneficial to your body. Nevertheless, staying hydrated and well-rested is the best way to stay healthy and fly through the midterm season.