Natural Cold Remedy

hot water handleBy Julie Hartmans

Working while raising children is never easy, but wintertime can be especially challenging, as it is the season for upper respiratory illnesses. If you want to avoid antibiotics (or can’t get them because the doctor says it’s viral), here is a very effective natural cold remedy to quickly help your child feel better. A form of hydrotherapy, this method is a bit complicated, a bit time-consuming, but it really works to stimulate your child’s immune system so that they can fight off that infection. A big plus in its favor is that this natural cold remedy is free!

Here’s what you will need:

1. One sheet
2. Two wool or acrylic (read warm!) blankets (1 large & 1 small work fine)
3. Four hand towels
4. An accurate timer

Make sure your house is toasty warm. Spread the larger of the wool blankets on the bed and then lay the sheet on top of that. Have the patient take their shirt off and lie back on the bed so that the blanket and sheet can be wrapped around the entire body but can also be easily opened. Go ahead and wrap the legs and feet, tucking in the coverings snugly. Cover the whole body with the smaller blanket.

Take two of the hand towels and run them under hot water, as hot as you can stand.  Alternately, you can heat the wet towels in the microwave. Wring them out thoroughly, fold down the top blanket, and put the hot towels on the skin of the chest. Now wrap up the patient with all the covers and let the towels stay there for five minutes. Be sure to set your timer.

At minute four, run one new towel under hot water and wring it out. When the timer goes off, unwrap the patient, put the new hot towel on the old towels, then flip them all over so that the new towel is against the chest, with the two old towels over it. Rewrap the patient. Let the three hot towels stay there for one minute, and in the meantime, run the fourth towel under very cold water, again being sure to thoroughly wring it out.

When the minute is up, unwrap the patient, put the cold towel on top of the other three and flip all the towels over so that the cold towel is against the skin of the chest. Remove the top three towels, again wrap the patient snugly, and wait 10 minutes. Be prepared for squealing at this point! That cold towel will really feel icy, but my son assures me it warms up quickly. And as long as your patient is snugly wrapped, she is in no danger of getting chilled. You can use the 10-minute stretch for a little bonus reading time with your child.

You’re not done with this natural cold remedy yet! When the 10 minutes are up, remove the cold towel, flip the patient over onto their stomach, and repeat the above steps, applying the towels to the skin of the upper back. The alternate hot and cold towels act as stimulants to the immune system, activating it to fight that infection, be it viral or bacterial.

My boy was in the midst of a stubborn chest cold when I used this treatment on him. We were treating it with herbs along with rest, lots of fluids, etc, but I needed to get back to work. The hydrotherapy regimen described above seemed to really help him turn the corner in getting well, and while it is a bit complicated, I would highly recommend it. This natural cold remedy is definitely less costly than a trip to the doctor and/or a course of antibiotics!

Hydrotherapy dates back to the time of Hippocrates, whose axiom was “First, do no harm.” It fits that criteria to a ‘t’ and, in my opinion, there’s a reason a therapeutic modality sticks around for so long – it works! If you have a sick child this winter, give this natural cold remedy a shot. It is sure to give the immune system a boost, decreasing recovery time so you can get back to work. Plus, you get to be the healer, which is always a gratifying experience!

Julie Hartmans first contributed to the-vu in 2000. She’s back in 2007 with something we will all need to read the next time we get a cold.


  1. I really do not think the cold virus can be influenced by this treatment. It may give psychological comfort, but there is nothing in the mechanics of this that can help your cold. You could take a simple shower and feel better also, but nothing related to your immune system or virus is being drawn out of your body by water and warmth and then cold. Silly stuff indeed.

  2. Me too. This is a load of silly rubbish. if that child’s cold improved, it was nothing to do with any of that. The writer clearly does not understand what a common cold actually is. The Internet is a haven for unqualified self-proclaimed experts who want to steer people off track with useless or bad advice based on inaccurate assumptions and imaginary science etc etc.

  3. Hey. Go easy Ephraim and Lynne8T. Cold medicines do not really work either. Do not discount the placebo effect and besides what a great way to feel close to your child and make them feel loved and taken-care-of. I agree that the clinical benefits of this treament seem far-fetched but three cheers for the emotional.

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