Cold and cough symptoms usually triple during the harmattan and rainy season in most countries in Africa.
Giving rise to uncomfortable symptoms like headache, cough, catarrh, fever, congestion, dizziness, and weakness. On average, adults have two to four common colds a year.
These symptoms are mostly caused by the common cold virus or allergies and can be easily handled using natural remedies.
Although there are so many over-the-counter medications for cold and cough, most people prefer ancient natural remedies because they are effective and have little or no side effects.
This article will provide you with medicinal herbs and practices that will help treat cough, cold, and congestion easily.
20 African-Nigerian Natural remedies
Natural remedies from African ancient medicine have been in use in treating cold and cough. Here are 20 of them.
Honey is incredibly healthy and sweet. It soothes the throat and has antibacterial properties.
It is also best for reducing nighttime cough in children and adults when compared to popular cough medications like dextromethorphan. 
To prepare honey, pour warm water into a mug, add two teaspoons of honey, mix and drink. You can also add half a lemon.
Drink this mixture once or twice a day. But do not give honey to babies under one year of age.
2. Bitter kola
Bitter kola also called Garcinia kola is a wonder plant that has been in use in African medicine to treat cold and fever.
The seed which is the most popular part of the plant has antimicrobial properties. And is used to treat cough in older children and adults.
To prepare, blend about ten bitter kolas and add honey in a 1:5 ratio. Mix and drink morning and evening. This mixture soothes the throat and fights infection.
You can also chew the seeds alone, however, note that it is called “bitter kola” for a reason.
Ginger is incredibly medicinal. It relieves asthmatic cough and dry cough because it contains compounds that help fight inflammation. 
To prepare ginger tea, add few slices of fresh ginger or two teaspoons of dry ginger to a cup of hot water. Allow to steep and cool for five minutes before drinking.
To improve taste and further soothe a cough, you can add honey or lemon juice.
Garlic is a wonder herb. It contains allicin, a compound responsible for its antimicrobial properties. Garlic does not only treat cold and cough but also prevents cold symptoms.
One study found that people who took garlic every day for three months had fewer colds. 
To prepare, add grated garlic cloves to a cup of hot water. Allow steeping for five minutes before drinking. Add honey to improve the taste.
You can find garlic supplements in drug stores or buy them online.
Caution: Do not take garlic supplements if you are on warfarin or any blood-thinning medications and if you suffer from any bleeding disorders to avoid interactions.
Onion is a powerful natural antibiotic that has been used in ancient African medicine to treat cold and cough. It contains compounds that fight bacteria, virus, and soothe a sore throat.
To prepare, slice one bulb of fresh onions and steep it in a bowl of drinking water. Allow fermenting for six to eight hours before drinking. You can add honey to improve the taste.
It soothes dry cough, sore throat, and relieves chest congestion.
6. African pepper (Uziza)
African pepper also called Piper guineense, Ashanti pepper, soro wisa, and uziza is a common culinary spice native to West Africa.
The seeds contain anti-inflammatory compounds that treat dry cough, asthmatic cough, and relieve chest congestion.
To prepare, add crushed uziza seeds to beef or chicken pepper soup. Inhale steam and drink soup while it is still hot.
7. Alligator pepper (Ose-orji, Ataare)
Just like uziza, alligator pepper also known as grains of paradise is a culinary spice native to west and central Africa. The seeds warm up the body and fight cold and cough symptoms.
You can chew the seeds raw or add them to a cup of hot water to make tea.
8. Pepper fruit
Pepper fruit is a miracle ancient plant used in treating cold and several ailments. It is called mmimi (Igbo), Nigeria (Yoruba), and nkarika (Efik).
The seeds contain potent antimicrobial compounds that fight cold and catarrh. 
You can chew pepper fruit as a snack with eggplant (garden egg) or add it to soups. It has a distinctive spicy taste.
Thyme has been in use in traditional medicine to treat respiratory disease in several countries.
The leaves and oil contain compounds that reduce inflammation and fight cough.
To use leaves, add two teaspoons of crushed thyme leaves to a cup of hot water. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes, strain, and drink.
For thyme oil, add 1-2 drops to bathing water, it soothes cough and speeds up recovery.
You can find multiple varieties of thyme oil in food stores or buy online.
10. Scent leaf
Scent leaf also called Ocimum gratissimum is an incredibly medicinal herb. It fights common cold and cough by reducing inflammation and congestion.
Also, it has antimicrobial, antipyretic, and antiparasitic properties – it fights bacteria, viruses, fever, and malaria.
To prepare, add fresh scent leaves to a pot of boiling water. Let it simmer for five minutes. Allow it to cool before drinking. You can also add ginger or honey for additional benefits.
11. Mint leaves
Mint is an incredibly healing plant. The leaves contain menthol that soothes the throat and clears out thick mucus.
They are various types of mint leaves but peppermint is the most common.
To prepare, try these two methods:
- Mint tea: Add fresh mint leaves to a cup of boiled water. Allow to steep for some minutes before drinking.
- Steam Inhalation: Add 3-4 drops of peppermint oil for every 150 ml of hot water. Cover your head with a towel and take deep breaths. The steam will decongest thick mucus and relieve catarrh.
You can find peppermint oil in drug stores or buy online.
12. Pepper soup
Warm chicken or beef pepper soup warms up your body and builds up your immunity to fight cold and cough symptoms.
It also provides you with lots of fluids and helps you stay hydrated. Make sure to drink it while it is still warm.
To prepare at home, add lots of garlic, ginger, peppers, scent leaves, and thyme to your beef or chicken.
13. Zinc supplements
Zinc is an essential element needed for preventing and shortening the duration of respiratory diseases in the body. 
Popular sources of zinc include meat, liver, eggs, and seafood. Zinc strengthens immunity and prevents the replication of the common cold virus.
You can find zinc supplements in drug stores or buy online.
14. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps to strengthen your immunity and shorten respiratory tract diseases. 
Important sources of vitamin C include oranges, lemon, watermelon, grapes, African star apple, lime, leafy greens, other fruits, and vegetables.
Adding lemon juice and honey to warm water will help lessen mucus and relieve congestion.
15. Methylated rub and Eucalyptus oil
Methylated rubs and eucalyptus oil can help combat congestion by opening airways and decongesting nasal pathways.
Rubs contain menthol, apply it generously on the chest, back, palms, and feet before going to bed. It ensures better sleep and improves breathing.
Alternatively, add 3-4 drops of eucalyptus oil in 200 ml of hot water, cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam.
For children, you can sprinkle eucalyptus oil on their sleeping sheets or add a few drops to bathing water.
16. Salt-water gargle
Gargling with water alone helps prevent upper respiratory infection. 
Adding salt to the water gives additional benefits. It may help wash out sore throat-causing bacteria and ease the pain.
To prepare, dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water. Rinse your mouth with the mixture and spit it out.
17. Warm bath
Bathing with warm water can reduce fever in both children and adults. Warm baths also relieve congestion and open airways.
You add a few drops of eucalyptus oil or thyme oil for a soothing effect.
Find eucalyptus oil to buy online.
18. Drink lots of warm fluids
Take lots of warm water, tea, and soups. They will help reduce congestion and thin out mucus.
19. Stay away from dust
Dust contains viruses, bacteria, and allergens that may trigger cold and cough symptoms.
Try to stay away from dusty environments especially during harmattan when the air is dry and dusty. Also, clean your home and wash your bed sheets regularly.
20. Get lots of sleep
Ensure to get lots of quality sleep and rest.
Sleeping helps rebuild your immune system and ensures a quicker recovery.
When to see a doctor
Cold and coughs can be managed at home using natural remedies but if your cold is accompanied by any of these symptoms, see your doctor or pharmacist.
- Difficulty breathing or catching your breath
- Chest pain
- Back pain
- Persistent high fever of 38°C
- Cough worsens after two weeks
The bottom line
Cold and cough can have devastating effects on your daily life and wellbeing. But trying these 20 home remedies will help relieve your symptoms faster and prevent future attacks.
However, if your symptoms persist and worsen over time, see a health provider.
Get new free and exclusive health tips delivered straight to your inbox!