Now that the weather’s getting colder, college students like us are bound to get sick and now is a good time to stock up our medicine cabinets before we start feeling too ill to go outside. Before you pick up those bottles of Tylenol, consider what you’ll be wanting to eat to make yourself feel better.

After all, there’s no better medicine than food. To make it easy, here are six foods you should have on hand that can be used as a more natural alternative to medicine.


Photo by Kendra Valkema

For centuries, ginger has had its roots in Asian medicine and cuisine, and it shouldn’t be a surprise why. When taken, it can help relieve indigestion, painful stomach cramps and nausea. Buy it fresh from the produce section, rather than dried and powdered in the baking aisle.

We also suggest drinking it as a tea: Simply boil a few slices of ginger in a cup of water, and add honey or sugar to sweeten.


Photo courtesy of

Another popular herb in Eastern medicine not to be confused with ginger, ginseng is another great staple to have on hand. Though it can taste unpleasantly bitter, ginseng is shown to be a natural energy booster and fatigue fighter.

Some studies even suggest that it can effectively shorten cold symptoms. Most ginseng is sold as a tea in Asian markets, but you can also find ginseng pills in some drugstores.


Photo courtesy of

There’s no reason to be scared of eating spicy. Just a few sprinkles of cayenne can naturally decongest nasal passages and relieve even the most painful sinus infections.

Another way you could use cayenne is to mix it with oil and beeswax to form a DIY salve. By rubbing it on your skin, you can reduce body aches and pains that you might feel from getting sick.


Photo by Rebecca Black

No, drinking lemon juice won’t cure you from the common cold (although we wish it could). But like ginseng, lemons can help reduce the length and severity of colds. This is because they’re great sources of vitamin C, which play an important role in immune system function.

If you’re not into the taste of lemon, other great citrus fruits to try are oranges, limes and grapefruit.


Photo courtesy of

Honey is definitely one sweet treat. Along with making things like ginger or ginseng more bearable to drink, it exhibits soothing, anti-inflammatory properties to relieve irritated throats and coughing. On top of that, honey contains antioxidants that may help fight against infections.


Photo by Dyan Khor

If being sick keeps you from sleeping at night, skip the Nyquil and brew yourself a cup of chamomile tea instead. Chamomile is mostly known for having mildly sedative effects, so it can help you fall asleep better.

On the other hand, because it’s also a natural relaxant, it can alleviate chest colds, sore throats and stomach problems.