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Although tea might not eliminate a cold, it may ease cold symptoms, such as a sore throat. Teas that people may find soothing include chamomile, ginger, and elderberry.

Many people find drinking hot tea when they have a cold provides symptom relief and a sense of comfort.

In this article, we explore the potential benefits of drinking tea while experiencing a cold. We also outline how certain herbal teas may help with symptoms.

An image of a herbal tea that a person can drink for a cold.Share on Pinterest
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The common cold is a viral infection that is typically harmless. Most people recover in 1–2 weeks after symptoms first emerge.

A person with a cold may have the following symptoms:

If a person has a cold, a warm drink may provide comfort.

Some people believe it helps alleviate sore throat pain, reduce coughing, unblock noses, and relieve headaches.

An older study suggests that drinking fluids with a cold do not improve or worsen symptoms. However, consuming drinks, including tea, may help thin mucus, making it easier to clear out.

Tea and other liquids can help keep a person hydrated. Staying hydrated while fighting off a cold is vital to ensure the body can adequately defend itself against the virus.

There are many herbal teas available that may help a person with a cold.

Chamomile

A 2010 review notes that, although further studies are necessary to establish a definitive link, chamomile tea may help boost the immune system and attack the infections that trigger colds.

Ginger

A 2019 study of ginger suggests it may help with some cold symptoms, such as sore throat and congestion.

A 2017 study also highlights that the ingredient could reduce throat infection, or pharyngitis, due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Green tea

A 2018 study examined the effects of green tea on people with coughing and hoarseness after coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

Although it did not reduce hoarseness, the glycoproteins and catechins present in the green tea may reduce coughing.

People should note that green tea contains caffeine, so they may not want to consume this drink before sleeping.

Echinacea

A systematic review examining the potential benefits of echinacea for treating colds suggests there may be some evidence to suggest it is slightly more effective than a placebo. However, this evidence is weak, and more research is necessary.

Elderberry

Elderberry supplements could reduce the duration of a cold and help soothe respiratory symptoms.

A 2019 study found that elderberry shows promise for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects on the human immune system.

Although this study did not specifically look at the effects of tea, it is possible the benefits may also occur in this beverage.

Peppermint

Research suggests that peppermint has anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. This may help the immune system defend the body while it fights the cold.

Scientists are still studying how peppermint works in this way, but it appears to promote overall immune function, reduce cell mutation, and improve cardiovascular health.

People may also find that the menthol in peppermint tea may help relieve clogged sinuses and make it easier for them to breathe.

Most herbal teas could offer comfort and alleviate some symptoms of a cold.

Previously, some debate suggested that dairy drinks, such as milk, may increase mucus production and that people with colds should avoid them.

However, a 2018 review debunks this theory, implying that dairy does not cause excessive mucus.

People can still drink milky teas if they prefer when fighting off a cold.

There is no cure for the common cold. However, several other treatments can alleviate symptoms.

Herbal and home remedies

A person can try the following home remedies:

Warm lemon

Mixing lemon juice with warm water creates a soothing drink that can help with a sore throat.

Honey

Honey may ease coughs in children. People can also combine honey with lemon for a soothing drink.

However, a person should not give honey to infants who are younger than 12 months of age. This is because honey may contain Clostridium botulinum, which can transform into bacteria that cause infantile botulism. People over 12 months of age can consume honey safely.

Steam inhalation

This process involves inhaling water vapor, which may help loosen mucus in the nose and lungs.

Probiotics

A systematic review suggests that taking probiotics could reduce the average duration of an illness, such as a cold, by up to 1 day.

Salt water

A small study suggests that gargling salt water and using it for nasal irrigation may positively affect cold symptoms and reduce its duration.

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications

OTC medication, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, may ease the pain and muscle aches a person might experience with a cold.

People can also use nasal sprays to help relieve decongestion. However, a person should avoid using them for more than a week at a time. This is because it may trigger the opposite effect and induce a permanently stuffy nose, known as rebound congestion.

Typically, a person with a cold will not need to see a doctor. However, people should consider seeking medical advice if they have:

  • a cold that persists for 3 weeks or more
  • symptoms get worse or do not improve
  • breathing difficulties or chest pains
  • colored phlegm from the nose or throat.
  • high fever

People who experience a cold may find that herbal teas provide comfort and soothe their symptoms.

Although there is no cure for a cold, drinking tea and trying other remedies, such as steam inhalation, probiotics, and honey, may help people feel better and reduce the duration of their cold.

SHOP FOR TEAS

Some of the herbal teas listed in this article are available to purchase in grocery stores and online: