4 Anti-Cold Cocktails That Work: From Ancient China to German Alcoholics and Modern Labs


The 2,000-year old cocktail: it tastes as bad as it looks… but it works.

My back hurts. So does my throat, and I feel like a sumo wrestler is sitting on my head trying to pop my eyes out.

Alas, the common cold has got me. Fortunately, I expect to be rid of it in 48-72 hours.

Like millions this time of year, I have the bug. But, thanks to Chinese and German friends and several helpful doctors, I’ve found a few effective treatments — the closest to cures I’ve experimented with — that can get you back on your feet faster. I suggest you test them in stages, from oldest to newest, as the side-effects tend to increase as we include modern drugs.

The Chinese Cure for the Common Cold–Simple and Direct

Despite some craziness like shark-fin soup and bear gallbladders, the Chinese have had a long time to experiment with the common cold.

In Beijing, I’d doubted the traditional Chinese approach to reducing fevers (bundle you up in winter clothing and force you to drink near-boiling tea or water until you sweat profusely), which ended up working like a charm, so I’ve been willing to test ideas that could have some clinical basis.

The ladies–my five surrogate mothers–at my neighborhood Chinese restaurant suggested the following fast-acting cold remedy (end product pictured in the first photo from this post), which — for me — cuts symptoms like sore throat and sinus pain by at least 50% over 24 hours.

Step 1: Get fresh ginger and the orange rind (peel) from one orange, preferably organic or otherwise not treated with pesticides. Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods will do. The Epsom salts will be explained and is not part of the recipe.


Step 2: Cut the ginger into small pieces and mash them down with the side of a large kitchen knife.


Step 3: Bring water to a low boil (medium setting on my electric stovetop) in a small pot and insert ginger pieces. Wait 20 minutes. Note: to help relieve the muscular pains that often come with a cold or flu, I’ll run a hot bath during this 20 minutes, put in the entire box of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), then soak for 10 minutes before coming back to the kitchen for step 4.

Step 4: Add the orange peel sections to the boiling water and wait an additional 10 minutes.

Step 5: Strain and serve. Be forewarned that it has a strong taste and a few dabs of organic honey will help those with girly-man stomachs (I’ll plead girly-man on this one). The liquid/tea/soup stores well in the refrigerator but tastes 10x worse cold.

The German Solution–Alcohol, Of Course!

The German solution I’ve been offered is easier to describe:

1. Get a deep-tissue massage

2. Chamomile Tea

3. Spiced Rum

4. Bed

I suspect the spiced rum could have an effect less from the alcohol and more from the cinnamon typically used to make it spicy. Though generally thought of as being viral, the common cold is often misdiagnosed or accompanied by other types of bacteria and infection.

Cinnamon has been shown to inhibit E. Coli and increase insulin sensitivity, among other things, which is why I take it supplementally prior to meals if I’m cycling off of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) as an insulin mimicker.

I’ll discuss ALA at greater length another time, but here is a preview from wikipedia: “Lipoic acid has been shown in cell culture experiments to increase cellular uptake of glucose by recruiting the glucose transporter GLUT4 to the cell membrane, suggesting its use in diabetes.”

Modern Non-Prescription Options

Though it’s true that “supplement,” “drug,” and “food” are largely legal distinctions and not biochemical ones, getting prescriptions is both time-consuming and expensive. For shortening the duration of the common cold, I use Zicam oral mist (nasal delivery can damage your sense of smell) every 3-4 hours, along with the following:


Garlic extract (2 capsules, 3x/daily), probiotic acidophilus cultures (one capsule per meal), 3mg melatonin prior to bed, 8-10 grams of vitamin C in 1g divided doses.

I don’t use echinacea because I’ve found the supporting research inconsistent and it upsets my stomach. I’m aware that some researchers dispute Linus Pauling’s conclusions about vitamin C, but I believe it’s because of insufficient dosing and spacing, as it is water soluble and can have a half-life of just 30-60 minutes.

From the non-ingestible standpoint, having suffered from sinus infections since childhood, I’m a proponent of sinus irrigation, which entails driving distilled water mixed with salt and baking soda in one nostril and out the other.

I’ll do this each morning and evening as soon as symptoms appear, and it all but eliminates the intra-cranial pressure and black-eye look so typical of sinus inflammation:


The NeilMed sinus rinse kit.

The Last Resort–Heavy Prescription Artillery

The common cold, as mentioned earlier, is generally thought of as a viral infection and attributed to any number of rhinoviruses and friends: “Common colds are most often caused by infection by one of the more than 100 serotypes of rhinovirus, a type of picornavirus. Other viruses causing colds are coronavirus, human parainfluenza viruses, human respiratory syncytial virus, adenoviruses, enteroviruses, or metapneumovirus. Due to the many different types of viruses, it is not possible to gain complete immunity to the common cold.”

Diverse as the causes might be, there is one combination of drugs–my personal holy trinity–that seems to kill off most variations of cold-related upper-respiratory issues if all else fails:


From left to right: the “Zmax” or azithromycin, an antibiotic (don’t use this and acidophilus at the same time); Flonase or generic fluticasone propionate, an anti-inflammatory nasal stray with little systemic absorption of the glucocorticoids; and Pseudovent, a decongestant and expectorant not unlike Primatene tablets.

These drugs all have side-effects and should not be used without medical supervision. If your HMO or doctor seems clueless, however, feel free to make suggestions.  Please note also that I use antibiotics only when warranted, as in the case of severe and recurring sinusitis with related causes.  Uninformed overuse of antibiotics can do more damage than anabolic steroids, so caveat emptor.


The common cold has been with us for millenia and will likely be with us for millenia to come. Is doesn’t mean you have to lay down and take it. Test some of these options, with the guidance of a doctor when needed, and perhaps we can save one more casualty from flu and cold season.


Odds and Ends: Fixed Gibberish

I had the strange marks and nonsense fixed on the popular “Top 5 Reasons to Be a Jack of All Trades” post. It’s now readable again 🙂

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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202 Replies to “4 Anti-Cold Cocktails That Work: From Ancient China to German Alcoholics and Modern Labs”

  1. Doh! I know it’s too late to prevent the coming corrections, but I just changed a few “garlic”s to “ginger”s. Both have a place in the piece 🙂

    All fixed.



  2. Tim,

    I think you meant to type “ginger” the first few times you wrote “garlic”. Otherwise, useful ideas – and garlic can play its part, anyway.

    Another inexpensive, low-tech, harmless trick is the “cold sock treatment”. I don’t have time to describe it now, but a little google search will supply the description, I’m sure.

  3. Speaking of non-prescriptive drug options, have you ever heard of Cold-FX? http://www.cold-fx.ca/ It is popular here in Canada; hockey teams endorse it. It’s supposedly a “natural” cure because, according to their FAQ, it “is a highly purified ChemBioPrint product derived from the roots of North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius).”

    I’ve used it before, but I don’t know if it really shortened my cold length but it didn’t seem to have gone on longer than a normal one.

      1. My Mom and Brother swear by ColdFX; but ONLY it you take it at the ONSET of your symptoms – you have to catch it right away or it won’t work apparently. Hope his helps, birch 🙂

  4. Hi there! Really good topic… 🙂

    Personally, I find that nothing beats herbal tea with honey… Don’t know how well the actual effects are documented, but at least it feels good in the throat – and the soul!

    Of course, the best is to prevent the cold.. You can eat lots of fruit and vegetables. But my favourite is to, in the most stubborn way, persuade yourself that you never get sick and tell everybody. That, actually, works wonders…

    Tim, get better!


  5. Since my wife and I discovered the following a few years ago, her colds have been limited to 24-48 hours max and I have been able to prevent colds completely! THIS WORKS: (by the way, I do not sell this stuff, I buy it … religiously!) Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils, specifically Oil of Oregano. A few drops taken (mixed in orange juice or milk) as soon as you feel that slight tickle in your throat (or whatever your red flag indicator of the onset of a cold is), will either reverse the onset altogether, (as in my own case and several of my family/friends) or at least mitigate the severity and duration of the cold. (The brand we use is from Young Living as they have the best quality that we’ve been able to find on the planet. Expensive, but worth every red cent.)

  6. I am a cayenne pepper fan. It seems as though the Native Americans of the southwest used the stuff on everything and it helped them fight off the common cold that was killing the other NAs. I put in/on every meal. Everyone at work has been cold/flu sick twice now and I have not gotten hit once. It also does wonders for a sore throat, google it.

  7. The garlic typo leaves me an opening to add the vicious folk remedy I picked up from friends. Exactly the same deal with the ginger, but we don’t use the orange peel (sounds good though). We squeeze the juice of half a lemon and chop up a couple of cloves of garlic.

    When the ginger is steeped enough, put the garlic in the bottom of a mug, pour the ginger tea over the top, then add the lemon juice. We usually add some natural honey – I could say it’s for the antibiotic properties, but I think it’s mostly to reduce it from completely undrinkable to merely hideous 🙂

    Then you slug it down, get a teaspoon and finish all the garlic which has settled to the bottom of the mug.

    If I catch a cold in the first few hours, this seems to do the trick. Possibly by simply scaring the living daylights out of any micro-organism that isn’t physically attached to me…

  8. Excellent tip!. I would emphasize though the importance of proper hydration. A technique I was taught about a year ago is to drink six glasses of water (it’s difficult when you are starting!) first thing in the morning. Then wait about 45 minutes or an hour (while you are getting ready) to eat or drink anything else. Then continue drinking clean pure water the rest of the day as normal. This technique stimulates all the internal organs and brings them rapidly to prime condition. You will feel the difference almost immediately.

    Art Gonzalez

    Check my Squidoo Lens at: Quantum Knights

  9. Hey Tim,

    Have you experimented with Airborne? I was advised by a friend to try it when I caught the sniffles coming back from Copenhagen in November. Seemed to kick the cold, but I dont know much about it other than the label info… LOTS of vitamins!


  10. You’re not seriously recommending azithromycin for the common cold, are you? Sure, if you have pneumonia, that’s the way to go, but given how much overprescription of antibiotics has already created new kinds of threats from resistant strains, this seems to be a really terrible piece of advice. If a doctor agrees to write you a script for this on your request, find a doctor who knows what she’s doing.

  11. Tim,

    What major magazine are you referring to. I’d love to give it a read. I think there is a huge market for those willing to work less for less pay.


  12. The Chinese cure, despite the typo seems best to me, but what do you do for the corresponding headache? Anything more than the above?

  13. Mr. Ferriss,

    I’m very impressed by your accomplishments, and you are no doubt an intelligent person. But are you SERIOUSLY recommending antibiotics for a cold?!?!

    Unless you actually have an accompanying inflammation (such as otitis media or a staph/strep infection), you are doing nothing to combat your symptoms (since colds are viral infections, not bacterial).

    Worse, you are basically encouraging further bacterial resistance to already-weak antibiotics. There are two causes of anti-biotic resistant bacterial infections: 1) People failing to finish the prescribed course of antibiotics and stopping administration just as soon as they “feel better” and 2) patronizing doctors who throw antibiotics at whiny cold-sufferers who know that they have nothing more than a placebo effect.

    In the short term, it’s probably harmless, but cumulatively, this practice is a serious threat to public health. Shame on you, Mr. Ferriss.

    The best cure for a cold? Not getting one. Practice preemptive measures such aimed at sanitation habits instead.

    1. These drugs all have side-effects and should not be used without medical supervision. If your HMO or doctor seems clueless, however, feel free to make suggestions. Please note also that I use antibiotics only when warranted, as in the case of severe and recurring sinusitis with related causes

      ****He said only when warranted…maybe you should have read it a little more. *****

      1. It is absolutely never warranted to take an antibiotic for a cold or flu. A cold is ALWAYS a virus. Do not take antibiotics for a cold.

  14. I’m sure tons of other people will also post their own personal remedies, but it happens to be that my own personal remedies coincide nicely with what you (and other commenters) have stated:

    1) Force yourself to drink 1/2 a gallon of OJ every day you are sick. This gives you plenty of natural Vitamin C and plenty of fluids, both of which you need badly when you’re sick.

    2) Wrap yourself in blankets and sleep a fever out. It’s hard to sleep and you’ll be 1/2 awake most of the time, but it works.

    Those 2 steps combined have allowed me to recover in 24-48 hours consistently for 8+ years (ever since I tried it in college). The large quantity of OJ isn’t that nice in that you’re taking in tons of sugar, but then again, your appetite probably sucks from being sick and well… your first priority should be to be in normal health in the first place.

  15. Nasal irrigation is also well worth practicing when you are in good health. Since colds are rhinovirii, and attach themselves in the upper respiratory tract (read: nose) of a new host, you would do well to keep your nasal passages clear as much as possible.

    If you can tolerate the “water up the nose” sensation, cup some water in your hands and draw it up through one nostril, far enough so that you can feel it go past your nostrils and up into your nasal cavity. Tilt your head up to allow for it to irrigate the cavity, then blow it out. Repeat with your other nostril.

    Making the water saline helps with the unpleasant “water up the nose” sensation. An isotonic saline balance will prevent that reaction.

    Look for “neti pots” at your local health food store or online; they’re an Ayurvedic tool to irrigate your nasal passages, and make the process I suggested above a little more dignified.

    Get in the habit of doing this every time you go to the bathroom and wash your hands. I’m a third year law student with a newborn and haven’t been able to concentrate on physical fitness for almost three years, but I’ve been cold-free for well over a year now, and (although this is only anecdotal evidence), I’m pretty sure it’s all because of “keeping my nose clean”!

  16. hey, love the book, ( wit and humour) however i have a Q? will you tell me how an uneducated fool like myself (40 years old now trapped in retail working some mornings ‘opening the store’ and some evenings

    ‘closing the store ‘) can make the 4 hour work week happen? I don’t dream of retail. I have better imagination than that, but this is only paying enough to get me by. I saw tim’s book in the book store( in the mall that i work at) and instead of spending my lunch money on lunch, i bot his book “the 4-hour work week” will this work for me? I want totravel the world ( haven’t seen much of it, but alway’s dreamed of seeing antartica, just to say that i was there. thank you. randy

  17. Do you have an article planned on supplements and herbal remedies in general? Since your original 4 hour business was based supplements I would think you would have some good advice. Pointers to books etc. that would be helpful would be great!

  18. Great ideas! I love this post…Beating the common cold can be harder than beating cancer. And this post has some great pointers. As a chemist, I especially appreciate the garlic referral – Big Pharma has been desperate to make a synthetic copy cat for about 15 years…Garlique is a great brand available for less than ten bucks/month at Wal-Mart. and you can boost its effectiveness without having to resort to the risky Zmax stack…Combine garlique with the adaptogen andrographis (see wholefoods.com)!

    Whether you are fighting flu, getting over whooping cough, or warding off the next Super Bug, adaptogens are your key to beating them!

    Andrographis was first used for its success in treating snakebites and overcoming malaria and dysentery. It is considered to be especially effective in clearing heat from the body and blood and is commonly used in treating heart conditions which include infection in the lungs, urinary tract, and throat – think strep throat. Within the halls of Big Pharma, modern research has proven andrographis to be beneficial at removing blood clots, stopping the spread of multiple types of cancer, and increasing the amount of immune enhancing white blood cells. Its active ingredients have been identified as andrographolides. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology recently showed andrographis to be more effective than the well known astragalus and echinichea for warding off the flu.

  19. Way to go, Tim. You did an excellent job of describing many of the homeopathic and modern medicinal treatments for the common colds.

    One you did not mention, is Zinc gluconate glycine, a combination of zinc gluconate and glycine (an amino acid). It is available, generally, as lozenges and is an over-the-counter remedy for the common cold. Zinc gluconate glycine has been shown in clinical trials to shorten the duration of symptoms of the common cold.

    Be careful, though, do not continue to use the lozenges once you have started any antibiotic therapy, as it is believed to inhibit it’s effectiveness.

    By the way, Tim, I wrote in the 4-hour work week (new addition suggestions chapter 13 blog) that I would like to challenge you, when you are better of course, to teaching me very specific techniques via email and maybe a phone conversation or two, so that this critical care nurse can become a true 4 hour work weeker and stay home more with her special needs son (Brandon has Down Syndrome and is 8 years old). Later, I would appreciate, along with Ian Sanderson (who also posted to same blog), the opportunity to help create or be a part of the 4 hour work week consultation organization that Ian recommends. What do you think?

    Marie Ennis, RN, MSN


    Hi Marie,

    Thank you for the comment. I very unfortunately cannot offer one-on-one advising due to the volume of requests (100s per week), but I’m sure with the book and forum and your own smarts, you can figure out a plan that will work for you and your son.

    At this time, I am holding off on a consulting organization because quality assurance would become a big headache and I have other projects on my plate, but this could change.

    Thanks and good luck!


  20. Hey Tim,

    Good stuff. I know some doctors will prescribe antibiotics for the common cold!! How illiterate do you have to be to prescribe antibiotics for a viral infection? I have tried the whole supplement thing and can totally vouch for Vitamin C.

    The trouble is people just don’t take enough of it!! And if your body is weak, as it is during a cold, you’re going to need more vitamin C. A good rule of thumb is to take enough C to saturate the body. Saturation is reached when you get diarrhea 🙂

    Oh yeah and prepare for a lot of flatulence that day, so it’s wise to stay home. The last few time I’ve done this, I’ve gotten over the major symptoms of cold in no more than 48 hours. It has taken me up to 20-30 grams of vitamin C a day to get over it, and I’m usually normally functioning the next day.

    The problem with things like OJ, is that to get the same effect from it you have to drink a LOT

    1. Hey Ergest and Tim F,

      In response to Linus Pauling documentation I have also been studying Dr. Thomas Levy’s studies – There is a Vitamin C called Altrient that uses LED technology. Lypo-spheric Encapsulated Delivery using Liposomes (similar to fat cells or coating). You will receive more Vitamin C and no diarrhea or waste of C (urine). The liposomes bypass your digestive system and become fuel for your cells through the bloodstream thus releasing the vitamin C in your bloodflow. Amazing stuff.

  21. My finance is originally from Mexico. Her family’s solution begins with boiling water with ginger and garlic and finishing it with honey. Sounds bad, but is actually kinda tasty and seems to help.

    All of our Mexican friends (and Cuban, Puerto RIcan and Russian) seemed sure that a shot of tequila, rum, or vodka would cure my ills. Not sure if it helped the cold, but I felt pretty good for at least a few hours.

  22. Tim! Bless you! I pray for you to be free of this disease in under 24 hours! You are so amazing and I love reading anything you write. You keep me alive and balanced!! I am 44 years old Mom, earn over $ 200k a year on 20 hours per week work- and have earned $ 4.25 million in the last

    8 years working online very part time with a 4 year break! I wrote to the Media oppt you posted.. oh and I also have homeschooled for 18 years, and just graduated my son last year who landed a full time job paying $ 45k a year without a college degree!!! 🙂


  23. Tim,

    You can avoid it all with quality vitamins and minerals (and no, not the crap you get at GNC or the other stores…). I’ve managed to get rid of my lifelong allergies (pneumonia twice a year EVERY year) in the last 4 weeks. The trees and flowers all started blooming in VA on Monday…and I was..unaffected for the first time, ever.

    Hah, 4 weeks…just realized the karma there.


  24. I found the following usually ensures my cold vanishes within 48-72:

    – two packages of TheraFlu with hot tea and honey, twice a day

    (I usually put it in a huge cup and add a healthy pour of Whiskey if I am working from home)

    – 1000 mg of C, twice a day

    – 1000 mcg of B12, twice a day

    Basically, I think the large amounts of acetaminophen and vitamins shock the system and prevent the cold germies from getting a foothold.

    I’m sure it doesn’t kill them, just allows the body to fight them off?

    I usually imagine this is the case, since it helps me mentally fight off the cold, I absolutely hate getting a cold.

  25. This I believe is a chinese recipe.

    Here is a formula to keep on hand.

    Three spoons of cayanne pepper powder, one small handfull of crushed red pepper, one large ginger root freshly grated. Place in a quart jar and fill w/ vodka. Let steep for three weeks. At the first sign of the cold or flu, take one spoonfull and mix it into a cup of water that is as hot as you can tollerate drinking, drink it it down as fast as possible.


  26. Tim – I like your suggestions except my feedback from patients about Airborne and Zicam has been less than stellar. My personal favorite remedies include oregano, olive leaf extract, Argentyn colloidal silver,and vitamin C. I think prevention is key, meaning a strong fast-responding immune system. Beta-glucan has helped me avoid many of the bugs my patients bring me each winter. So has having an adequate level of Vitamin D3 in my system.

    It’s important for everyone to recognize the symptoms of influenza, which has been very prevalent this season, because this virus can still be shut down rapidly with a prescription product Tamiflu.


  27. I have a personal experience warning about Melatonin. I was given half a pill once as a “natural way to get to sleep” when I was sick. Around 2am I woke up shaking uncontrollably.

    After checking the web, I found Melatonin can cause seizures in some users.

  28. I second (or third or forth) NETI POT. Swear by it. Got myself and whole fam off antihistimines.

    Also, homeopoathic remedy that works >>> ZICAM

    Available almost all stores. The Trick? At first onset (within 24 hours) of that stuffy nose and/or scratchy throat feeling (not allergies) take as directed, and GO TO BED -but just ONE DAY and you are up and at ’em again. Key is starting it at first symptoms and resting. Add the neti pot for stuffy nose relief. It’s miraculous.

  29. Nice post,

    I will keep these in mind for future colds. Your thoughts on organizing your favorite posts from different bloggers?

    Pura Vida,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

    PS going to be in Nicaragua in August. If you want to go let me know, I have family in almost every major city and lodging is on the house. : )

  30. Here is an Indian recipe for you:

    Take one glass of water. Add half tablespoon turmeric powder. Add 1/4th tablespoon sugar. Boil it. Stir and drink.

    It tastes nasty but works very well in getting rid of the cold.

  31. Tm, I’d love to see a similar post on curing hangovers. I’ve seen whiskey and wine mentioned quite a bit here so I’m assuming you’ve suffered the odd rough morning in the past?

    1. Followup to Rob Hinchcliffe….I’ve been experimenting successfully with 1000mg of N-acetyl-L-cysteine (an acetylated amino acid) plus 500mg of Vit. C right before you start drinking booze and after the session is over. The proposed mode of action is that these two together scavenge the acetaldehyde which is a by-product of alchohol breakdown — acetaldehyde the molecule that most people think is a major headache cause for hangovers. You could also add half an ibuprofen tablet to the mix before you drink but beware if you have a sensitive stomach to NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen etc). Avoid acetaminophen (tylenol) when drinking because it can amplify liver damage.

  32. Hi Tim

    I know this is off the topic of your post, but I recently listened to your interview with Yanik Silver. Brilliant mate you are a genius!

    My question is if the interview you done with Jack, the author of Chicken soup..” is still available? I’d very much appreciate it if I could get my hands on it

    Thanks Tim



    Hi Ben,

    Not for now, I’m afraid. That was an exclusive offer made a few months ago. I may reappear, and if so, I imagine I’ll announce it here on the blog.



  33. As mentioned previously, a neti pot is the simplest and most comfortable way to perform sinus irrigation. Originated in India, a small ceramic pot has a long spout which is inserted in the nostril. The head is tilted to the opposite side, and a mild saline solution is flushed through the nose and expelled through the other nostril.

    Try it. I guarantee you won’t go back to other messy means.

  34. The ginger stuff tastes waaay better, and still works wonders, when you

    a. let it simmer for about 4-5 hours (if you have the patience)

    b. add tons of honey (which has its own role in many cold remedies, so it helps you while making the drink more palatable)

    c. add lemon juice instead of orange peel (which I suspect is the main reason your version tastes horrible)

    This way, you end up with a sort of hot, spicy lemonade.

  35. Hey all,

    I have a cure that may put some hair on your chest(s) but it is astonishing how well it works. When u feel the cold coming on or are even at the sore throat stage – one tablespoon and – bam.

    We call it “missionary medicine”, named after the missionaries to Albania we got the recipe from. A friend later found a similar recipe in a Mennonite women’s magazine.

    Take about a quart of raw cider vinegar (must be raw for proper fermentation to occurr – you’ll see the filmy “mother” in it) and add about a cup each of pref chemical free chopped: garlic, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers. Decant to glass jars. Let sit out for about 2 weeks, then u can strain the pulp out if u want (although we don’t) before storing the jars in fridge. This amount should last u all winter by the way, so i usually make it up in October timeframe.

    When u feel the cold coming on, take 1 tablespoon of this every waking hour. You’ll shudder and your teeth will vibrate but it is truly amazing how the stuff blasts the cold right out of your system. Sore throat – gone instantly. Sinuses clear (how could they not be). You should only need to take this for a day , day and a half to nip your cold in the bud. I’ve been doing this for 3 years now and it has prevented 6 out of 7 colds.

    My husband is completely traumatized by this treatment this by the way 😉 He tried it once and he says he’d rather just have the cold!! I actually don’t think its that bad if u hold your nose and have a “chaser” nearby (ex: plain cracker, piece of banana, etc). When I get a cold it always ends up with hacking cough for weeks and weeks on end so for me this treatment is SOOOO worth it!


    PS Tim – thanks for your book, which I listened to on cd last summer. I run a couple side businesses in addition to my day job (not to mention how BZ I am raising a 3 yr old and traumatizing my husband with scary folk doctor witch medicine home remedies 😉 I got so many useful tips from 4HWW. I don’t think I could have done it without u!

  36. The best thing treatment I’ve found for all disease is doing something entertaining and forget about work or anything stressful.

  37. The cure that I’ve recently found and works amazingly well is the 3 S’s. This came from a fellow Toastmaster member who is a budding homeopath.

    1. (S)ambucol: It is an extract from the black elderberry that you can find in Syrup form at CVS and Rite-Aid. It’s a centuries old remedy that works with upper respiratory issues.

    2. (S)eed extract from Grapefruit: Find it at natural food stores. It is toxic to the bacteria from colds but not to the body in the low doses that the pills provide. Great for sinus issues.

    3. (S)oup – Chicken: Mom always knows best and get some made with the chicken bones in the stock served piping hot.

    Good luck Tim.

  38. Hi Tim!

    The Chinese are right….sweat it out. Another great way to induce diaphoresis is through the “Hot Toddy” – mix 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice with 1 tablespoon of honey in a glass. Add 1 tablespoon of warmed whiskey, brandy or rum, stir and drink. Works like a charm and tastes pretty darn good!

  39. Here is the New Orleans recipe:

    1. Take lots of Vit C during the day, suck on some zync, and eat spicy foods.

    2. About 4 hours before bed time, take two benadryl

    3. Turn on a movie

    4. Pour yourself a big glass of red (wine)

    5. Drink 4 glasses of water

    6. Pour yourself another big glass of red

    7. Wake up a feel a million times better.

  40. Actually Tim, I’m glad you mentioned ALA – always take ALA with high doses (500-1000mg) of Vitamin C because it will help increase the body’s ability to take in Vitamin C exponentially (especially when sick). This is why so many articles say that Vitamin C doesn’t work. Most people can’t absorb enough without a absorbsion catalyst like ALA. It really does work if done right.

    400 mg of ALA taken daily also acts as a mild laxative if you need that sort of help.

    I’m looking forward to hearing how you use it.

  41. I wrote a personal cold cure back in January: hot wings. You know what I mean. Hotter than you can stand, hotter than makes sense, hotter than is pleasurable wings. Click my name to follow to the post. Later!

  42. Two points – from over use of the antibiotic azithromycin, it has experienced increasing resistance from the bacteria usually associated with sinus infection. The recommended dose is now 2 grams. The usual pack is 1.5 grams. The new Zmax is a bottle of 2 grams liquid as a single dose.

    The reason your infections respond so quickly is the irrigation. it is very important. The saline solution does not penetrate the sinuses according to a recent study, but it none-the-less helps the immune system to respond and aids in antibiotic effectiveness.

  43. The Hot Toddy method worked for me pretty nicely not too long ago. Shame about the Airborne fiasco – thanks for the tips Tim!

  44. Dear Tim,

    Most definitely get a nettipot they will help clear the sinuses but will be rather gross to begin with, and will take a lot of the gases from the nasal passages.

    I’d advocate changing your body temperature too, cold bath, hot shower etc, to encourage the flow of toxins out of your body. If you do opt for the medication all you are doing is putting more toxins into your body thus just prolonging your agony in the long term. Sauna’s are fab for this!!

    The best thing I did, when I was very poorly earlier this year is to have a ginger bath… draw the hottest bath possible, and get some ginger and slice it up a good bunch here we are talking and then lie in the bath for at least 40minutes, best to do this before you go to sleep, and then lay several towels on your bed before you lay down as the ginger coupled with the heat with stimulate your system to detoxify and it will feel v. relaxing and soothing and you will start to feel better, I am sure:)

    Magnesium will help too, in moving things along. But I strongly, advocate ginger it’s amazing at encouraging toxins to move along.

    Any kind of massage too that you could endure be it an indian head one, to

    even a foot massage, will help the toxins move along; given that our biggest organ is our skin.

    Take it gently, it seems you are being forced to:)



  45. You have a C supplement listed. Which I’m also a huge proponent of – if nothing else I figure the placebo effect is worth it. However, instead of the straight C dose, I do a C/B combo.

    Typically one of the heavy dose complexes, one I like a lot is the Stress B-Complex companies like Nature Made put out.

    My reasoning: In addition to the C, upping metabolism should help offset a relative loss of appetite and feeling of lethargy.

    NO proof to support it what so ever, but /shrug seems to help a lot.

    Also, consider using Olive Leaf (ground in capsul form) to dry up your nose. I find that it works well.

  46. Tim,

    Great information here, I am a teacher so I am always exposed to viruses as you can imagine. Although, I noticed you are taking the “Cardiovascular” Kyolic. I use the Formula 103 which is the “Immunity” blend. I am not sure that it would make a difference since they are essentially both Garlic Products, but there are some extras that aide in the recovery that the Cardiovascular version may not.


  47. I really appreciate seeing all these ideas here. There is no such thing as too many arrows in your quiver when it comes to fighting for good health!

    My problem is also seasonal – allergies. The bartlet pear trees are blooming here in NC, and thus my sneezing begins. It doesn’t get really bad though until the oaks starts to bloom.

    I’ve done shots, every prescription solution I could find and all sorts of natural remedies, but nothing seems to work. Anyone have any great solutions?

    1. local honey! Take 1 teaspoon per day until the entire jar is empty. This provides “mini” exposure-think allergy shots-allowing your body to build antibodies.

      Must be local honey from local bees. I tried this 15 years ago and have not had a bad season since!

      I did have a modest reaction when I relocated to Florida. After repeating the local honey approach, no further issues.

  48. My wife is a subsitute teacher and has brought home colds for me every other week since she started last year. Someone mentioned to me that cod liver oil worked great if taken at the first sign of a cold.

    Since I started taking it, my colds have gone away before they came on full force.

    Definitely take the pills and skip the liquid.

  49. I’m drinking some Emergen-C right now – I started feeling achy and nauseated this morning and I had a TV interview today – this stuff works. I feel much better! I wrote about it and my other favorite remedies here:


    Also, kefir is a great inexpensive way to get your probiotics (live like yogurt):



  50. I know there are a million and one cold remedies out there, but let me give you this one. As preventative maintenance, eat one apple daily, every morning before you eat ANYTHING else. Not only does it seem to jumpstart your digestive system, but I have been cold and flu free since starting this 3 years ago. I prefer Fugi apples and Pink Ladies, but I’m sure personal preference does not matter.

    I would like to know someday when we have the technology what phytonutients an apple truly contains.

    I guess the old saying “an apple a day…..” does really work.

  51. Hey Tim,

    Just found your book and love it! I have been living the life for 3 years now. I am was a massage therapist but had a big talent for endurance sports and decided that I was going to find a way to quit my job, move to New Zealand in the American winter and Boulder, CO in the American summer to train full time for Ironman Triathlon.

    I made that happen (and no I am not rich) and now I am getting ready to start my first season racing pro. While I begin my first year as a pro I decided to do something good with my triathlon adventure. So I started a fundraising team for The Matthew Shepard Foundation called Team E-Race Hate.

    Even though I would say that I am very “gifted” when it comes to finding ways of “living the life” , I find that your book will help me 10 times over while in the process of building this network of fundraising triathletes and marathoners.

    I decided to write to your blog as one of the exercises in the book and see if I can get you to contact me. I don’t need to ask you a question so I figured if you made a donation to my personal fundrasing page that would be my answer.

    I have enclosed it in the Website link.



    P.S.- A Neti pot is a great tool to prevent getting colds.

  52. How you pump out such quality content all the time I have no idea.

    Anyways since I had nowhere else to ask you this, do you offer any sort of affiliate program for your pxmethod?

    I’d like to promote it for you, make us both a little money.


    Hi Sweeney,

    Thanks so much for the kind words. Since the PX Method page is just a mock-up for people to see as an example and not a live sales page, there is no affiliate program at the moment, but I’ll announce on the blog if this ever changes.

    Thanks again!


  53. Try loquat cough syrup if you have a cough. I get it from my acupuncturist. A treatment from her often helps speed recovery too!

  54. I believe in the power of sleep to get over colds/flu and the like. I just discovered the power of cough syrup, which knocks me out cold. I take a full shot of that stuff and I’m out.

    That, and chicken soup.

  55. Tim, I have found that ColdFX has stopped my on-coming colds dead in their tracks. I’ve had one full blown cold in the past three years – but otherwise I believe it can forestall or eliminate colds. I like your recipes and will try the Chinese anti-cold cocktail next time a feel a cold coming on. Thanks!

  56. My “cold remedy” came about while in Chiropractic College. I used to get sinus infection and colds so bad i would be knocked out for 2-3 weeks every year. While in college and learning how much effect the nervous system controls the immune system. When i started to get that worn down or felt a cold coming on i would get checked 3-5 times in a day. Sometimes getting adjusted every time. Along with this i would drink about 3 smoothies with fruit and whey protein, take a few grams of Vitamin C and about 5 grams of Fish Oil.

    What used to kick me on the tail for weeks now I’m over in a day! I practice in OH now and haven’t been sick in 2 years. Also most Chiropractors won’t charge extra to see you multiple times in the same day. FYI

  57. Hi Tim:

    Might I suggest checking into the immune enhancing benefits of keeping a clear nervous system through chiropractic care? And maybe shift some of your ideas around about how you need to catch colds in the first place? Sometimes they are useful for the body to shed off cells it doesn’t need anymore (as a product of daily cellular replacement),….but people don’t need to get sick nearly as much as they think. Really. It’s yet another personal perceived limitation that can be broken- it just must be a harder box for you to find and break through since it is so culturally engrained.

    If you need some city referrals I can help!

    And thanks for the inspiration from the book. I have been loving it and actually recommending it to my clients!! (I am a chiropractor)

  58. Ginger works in a way but not so much. Heres what my moma gives me(southern chinese) which works for me. At most herbal place. they sell this type of tea which is box tea aka. luang chai in chinese and because im American Born Chinese I don’t know the exact translation for such but anyways. This tea comes in a set of 6 which is rolled up in balls on a leaf. (all you chinese people help a brother out in discription)Well the whole point is to drink the tea and wrap yourself in some warm blanket so you sweat the bad stuff away and wake up refreshed and cold-free. Thats my one night chinese way.

  59. off topic but good news. HEY TIM You are mentioned in the new MAXIM!!!

    They talk about outsourcing and of course they mention the outsourcing god Tim Ferriss & 4HWW!



    You’re kidding!! LOL… I love it. Thanks for the heads up, Drew!


  60. I usually boil ginger in water, strain and use that water for a ginger / mint herbal tea. It helps make the taste a little more palatable.

    Interesting sidenote, I broke a tooth near Christmas and due to the holidays had to wait a week for a dentist appointment. The same ginger tea concoction worked really well to combat the toothache.

  61. I second Lea’s comments about Cold-FX.

    A recent article in Nutrition Action magazine claimed that it was the only non-prescription “supplement” where valid studies backed up a decrease in both severity and duration of colds.

    Since I started using it about a year ago, I’ve only had one (short) cold, as opposed to an average of about 2-3/year beforehand.

  62. Hi Tim,

    can you spare a few words on the UK version of the book?

    I have got the US version and would like to understand what’s different in the UK version.

    Thanks and Happy Easter!

  63. Hello Tim,

    I just wanted to thank you again for all the ideas you have planted in my mind. I finally got my own personal blog up and am even more against the grain than before. I too am constantly learning new ways on enhancing this experience called life.

    Pura Vida,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  64. Tim,

    My two germ-factory kids and my wife think I have superhuman immunity to clds. Mine last 1 or 2 days and theirs can reinfect for weeks.I don’t get sinusitis (from the cold anyway), sore throats, infections, coughs or post nasal drips, I think because I’m not draining in my throat. The reason? I have long suspected that Flonase and my addition to spray decongestants (a tool of the devil, except in this case) along with the occassional sudafed has prevented the misery. Anyone else have this experience?

    FYI try to stay away from afrin, etc. I’m convinced it produced by the drug companies precidely to addict users. Just when you thought you kicked it….

  65. Tim,

    What supplementations do you take on daily basis.

    I am a healthy freak.

    I take

    Vitamin C 1000 mg

    Multi-vitamin mega man from gnc





    protein powder with bcaa

    garlic in pill form

  66. I travel a ton for work and cannot afford the luxury of being down and out. My cure (this gets me back and healthy within 24-48 hours) that allows me to continue to work and travel and minimize the symptoms to almost non noticable is:

    at initial onset of symptoms (sore throat, sinus congestion or hot forehead/headache) I do the following:

    I will drink 64 ounces of water per day (you have to pee a ton but it is well worth it to boost your bodies ability to fight the cold)

    I will take 500 mg of vitamin C in the morning, lunch and dinner

    I will get sudafed daytiime 24 hour (the kind you have to sign for behind the counter)

    Menthol lozenges to sooth the throat and clear the sinus, as needed.

    Has worked for me.


  67. Tim,

    Thanks for the educational post. Very informative. Wanted to let you know I loved the book. Looking forward to reading more on the blog and partcipating in the forum.

    Thanks again,


  68. Chinese also have an easier alternative to fighting cold, have you tried the Longan tea yet? It tastes awesome and it works better than Lemon tea.

  69. This is more of a prevention than a cure. I used to catch all the colds in town. What works for me in terms of prevention is eating at least 3 oranges a day during the cold season. I don’t catch the flu, I don’t catch the colds. Skip the oranges a few days and bam, I get one.

    And when I do catch one, aspirin, hot tea, a lot of blankets and sweat shortens the cold.

  70. “Ginger Tea” is actually quite popular and you can order it in most Asian tea shops. I think it’s pretty drinkable if it is sweetened (my girly-man stomach loves a dollop of honey with ginger tea)

  71. The power of aspirin. Plain, simple, cheap. The best thing EVER for a sore throat (and yes, you swallow it like normal…don’t suck it!) and for body aches including head pain. Plus helps keep those arteries clear.

  72. Hey Tim,

    I noticed that you use an electric stovetop! Would it not be more efficient if you switched over to an induction cooktop? They boil water as fast as gas ranges and use much less electricity than the conventional electric stovetops. Also, you could set the time, so that if you fell asleep in your Epsom Salt bath, it wouldn’t boil out (and even if you forgot to set the timer and left it, the cooktop will detect that all liquid is gone somehow, and turn off). It’s all about efficiency and effectiveness, ain’t it?


  73. There are so many great comments although I have found that the best way to get ride of a cold is to talk and think it out of me. If I feel a cold comming on which happens (I live in Wisconsin), I starting telling myself how great I feel and I never ever give any energy to feeling bad. Although I may in actuality not feel very well for a day my colds go away within a day a or two. Before I started this I would have colds constantly in the winter and I would feed them with my thinking about how bad I felt. In the past 3 years or so I hardly evey feel ill and if I do it goes away very quickly. Drink a glass of water and tell yourself I feel great. Mind over matter.

    Good Health to all.


  74. Tim,

    Great post! I hope you’re already feeling better. I think the below info will be useful for you, as your travelling schedule probably resembles mine.

    I’m spending 24+ hours on longhaul flights twice a month, breathing recycled air and being surrounded by coughing and sneezing people. In the past I would catch colds and flu’s so frequently that I ended up dreading flying to the point that I nearly gave up my otherwise dream lifestyle.

    My friend Natalia (a former international model, pianist and creator of Employment Advantage, an online training program to help people score the job of their dreams) has totally changed my life by sharing her secret of how to survive exposure to germ danger zones, like crowded conventions with bad airconditioning, longhaul flights etc, and emerge totally unscathed:

    1) Anywhere you go always take a flask of no-rinse antibacterial hand gel with you.

    E.g. Aqium, Dettol etc. Use liberally every time after someone who has the sniffles shakes your hands, you touch public banisters, doorhandles, etc. Of course, people who have a cold shouldn’t shake hands or touch public banisters in the first place. But, unfortunately, they do, and therefore you have to defend yourself. It’s important to do this within minutes of exposure. If you’re waiting until the next convenient opportunity to go to the bathroom and wash your hands the traditional way, it will be too late.

    2) Always carry a small bottle of First Defense (antibacterial nasal spray) with you.

    Use this the minute someone coughs or sniffles in your general direction. If you’re in a room where lots of germs fly around, use at least once every couple of hours. The application hurts a little bit, but is well worth it.

    3) Never ever touch your face with anything other than freshly sanitized hands.

    This sounds like a no-brainer, but if you observe yourself, you’ll be surprised how often you are absentmindedly touching your face. It takes a while to shed the habit, but can be done, particularly if you regularly remind yourself of the benefits of never getting another cold.

    4) Drink loads of water.

    This point has already been elaborated on in previous posts.

    After implementing this regimen I have been cold-free for a year. No matter where I go, I still carry an emergency supply of several of the remedies mentioned by yourself and others above, but haven’t needed them.

    Good Luck!


  75. Jesh! How did we all survive 15 years ago b4 we all became so “aware”. Drink wine, eat well and be happy.

  76. I hope you are feeling better. Every trick plus positive thinking will do the trick I gather. I wish I took your advice on hacking the cold 🙂



  77. Good article, I’ll have to try the Chinese recipe!

    I tend to use Echinacea and Elderflower mainly at the first signs via herbal tea. I’ve been trying the controversial Colloidal Silver and I feel that helps too.

  78. I really like the Chinese acient cure. It reminds of something that a friend once told me to try and I think it actually worked!

    The food thing with this type of cure is that as they do not contain any medicine there are cannot be any really side affects.

    Since I do not drink I think I will try this remedy out ( got a bit of a sniffle today ).

    Regards. John.

  79. I love Echinacea Supreme tincture by Gaia to boost my immune system. Squirting a dropperful under the tongue once every two hours helps to either ward the cold off or lesson the impact of the symptoms of a cold. This technique is for experienced herbal remedy explorers as the taste is super intense and it makes you salivate immediately. Echinacea will only trigger the immune response for 8 to 10 days at a time.

    Super fave Probiotic is Bio-K. Bio-K comes in a yogurt type form and I feel like my body absorbs the live cultures best with this product. I was a buyer in the supplement section of Whole Foods for two years and I have tried countless products.

    Love the topic!

    Happy Springtime

  80. Take the Epsom Salt bath to the next level by adding:

    14 drops of Rosemary essential oil,

    7 drops of Lemon Verbena essential oil

    and 4 drops of Lavender essential oil.

  81. I can certainly empathize with this post as I’m just getting over a bizarre cold/flu (I never decided which it was except it was persistent) that has lasted over 2 weeks. It’s been gripping everybody here at the office and staying for weeks with each unhappy host.

    Anyway, while I certainly didn’t manage to cut it short, I was able to minimize the congestion factor a great deal. (I only went through a single box of kleenex during a 2 week cold.) I wasn’t nearly as successful staving off the body ache, the cough or the killer headache that lingered, and my throat kept trying to get raw. (It would get raw and dry and then I’d nip it in the bud, then it would start getting raw again.)

    Anyway, here are some of my tricks:

    — I drank a LOT of Emergen-C, several packets a day. The stuff is great. I also ate a lot of fresh fruit.

    — I drank a lot of herb tea — I was constantly sipping tea. I like two brands you can get in the health food section: Respiratory Relief (it really does keep the chest mucus down) and Throat Coat, which is licorice and slippery elm bark tea. Even a single cup of slippery elm tea really does wonders for a bad throat.

    — I slept a lot. And bundled up in extra blankets, so much so that it induced a sweat several times.

    — I practiced lymph drainage massage on my sinuses. I got a “cold recovery” massage last year where the lady also did lymph massage, and I remembered where she manipulated. So whenever my sinuses started to threaten to close up, I did the lymph massage thing to help clear the stuff out faster. I’m not an expert on lymph massage but this worked for me.

    Basically you start at about the middle of the lower eye socket and press down in a semi circle so that you end up pressing deeply into the sinuses right about where the cartilate of your nose meets the bone. If your sinuses are normal, it will be hard for you to tell the right spot but if they are in bad shape it’s fairly easy to figure out the spot. If you do it right, you should feel liquid oozing into your nasal passage or down your throat. It can help to lay back or tilt your head back to resist gravity.

  82. Tim,

    Have you tried the R-Isomer form of ALA (i.e. without the synthetic S-Isomer – which has shown in studies to inhibit the natural potent R-Isomer)?

    It’s conveniently called, R-ALA.

    If you really want to avoid the common cold, I highly advise introducing (if you haven’t already) cruciferous vegetables and sprouts (especially broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli sprouts – preferably raw – make sure you eat them with food so they are somewhat more palatable).

    I can’t emphasize the numerous benefits I have reaped as a result of implementing these foods into my diet.

  83. I forgot to add, if you are going to take vitamin C, I advise taking the vitamin C supplement magnesium ascorbate – it is less acidic as it is bound to magnesium (alkaline mineral) – unlike ascorbic acid which is very acid!

    Also, raw broccoli is so dense with vitamin C! Just 2 florets equal approximately 45% of ones RDI!

  84. I made an “east meets west” smart bomb by combining the ginger drink with a whiskey hot toddy. Warming, soothing, relaxing…bueno.



    1. HAHA, that’s the cure I am using… I’m going with red wine and ginger root- you can really FEEL it working right away… broke up the mucus congestion almost INSTANTLY.

      I believe the alcohol acts as a dispersant to spread the oil from the ginger throughout your mucus membrane (sinus, nose, mouth, throat, lungs, stomach)… The two combined works like a million bucks! I should bottle this shit and sell it!

  85. I have not had the flu or colds anymore in about 4 years ( well for one thing, I quit getting those unhealthy flu shots!)The moment I begin to feel just a bit of the sniffles or something wanting to start, I use Airborne. I also take it throughout the year if I am going to be in crowded places.

    I also always clean off shopping cart handles 🙂

    My husband, who is older, also takes it, does not get flu shots, and does not get colds anymore either. Airborne, as I am sure you know, is natural, and yes, it does have , among other ingredients, Euchinasea. I tell everyone about it, cuz it works!