portrait of woman having sore throat problem

I have been struggling for more than a week now with a pretty horrible chest cold. The coughing and congestion has been exhausting, not to mention seriously frustrating for everyone around me as I hack away all day long. While I have been properly medicated, I have been seeking out any and all possible home remedies to help shorten this illness and try to suppress this cough.

Naturally, whether asking friends and family or seeking out some ideas on the internet, there are dozens of concoctions ready to try — everything to help coat a sore throat to ease a cough to reducing congestion. Here are some great ideas to try if you’ve been suffering like I have.

Of course, none of these replace a doctor’s exam and diagnosis. For more ideas, visit our Life Hacks board on Pinterest.

Calming a sore throat

There is nothing quite as horrible as a sore throat. Trying to stay hydrated when you’re sick is made all the more difficult when it feels like you’re swallowing razor blades. Growing up, my siblings and I often got strep throat and we always longed for anything that would calm the fire that was in our throats. We often would chew Aspergum that would slightly numb the pain, but the effects never lasted long enough. Now, when I have a sore throat, I reach for hot tea.

Next time I plan on trying out this Sore Throat Smoothie. In a blender, puree together 2 frozen bananas, 1 cup almond or any non-daily milk, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 3-4 sage leaves and 1 1/2 teaspoons of maple syrup. This smoothie makes one large glass or two smaller servings, which means you can drink it all or store one in the fridge for sore throat relief later.

Quiet that cough

This past week of coughing incessantly has meant many sleepless nights, for me and my sweet, long-suffering husband. Sure, I’ve been drinking lots of fluids and taking advantage of many over-the-counter cough syrups, but they don’t work all the time. So I’ve been eager to try other home remedies and everywhere I turn the key ingredients are apple cider vinegar and honey. So, 1 tablespoon of each in hot water is my latest cough soother.

I might also try this recipe for Honey and Thyme Herbal Cough Syrup. Combine 4 ounces of fresh thyme leaf and flower with 4 cups of water. Warm over low heat. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 45 minutes. Strain the liquid and discard herbs. Cool mixture until just warm and add 1 cup raw, organic honey. Whisk until smooth. Transfer to a glass bottle and store in the fridge for up to four weeks.

Reduce congestion

I have a tendency to get sinus infections, so I’m sadly familiar with the pain and pressure of horrible sinus congestion. Mucinex and a Z-pack are often the only weapons capable of easing the pain and ultimately curing my most common ailment. But when I first notice the symptoms, I need to be a bit more proactive in treating the congestion. While I have yet to try one, I hear a net pot should be my very first line of defense. It’s clearly time to try it. Another great option is an herbal-infused shower.

Time to make these Shower Melts. In a pot, melt 3 tablespoons coconut oil. Pour in essential oils like 10 drops eucalyptus oil and 10 drops wintergreen oil. Add in 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, Mix well. Pour into silicone molds. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Because the melts are oil-based they can make a shower slippery, so be sure to place in a safe area when using. Store in the fridge.

— Jennifer Durrant