Some of the most popular and seasonal flavour ingredients are also associated with effects that combat colds and flu.
They might not be medicinal in the strictest sense of the word, but natural remedies can provide some much-needed respite from symptoms while medication takes its effect.
You might even decide that you feel better faster by using herbal remedies, whether that’s a tea made using natural flavour ingredients, or inhaling vapours that contain certain fragrance ingredients and essential oils.
One of the most widely used flavour and fragrance ingredients in medications for coughs and colds, menthol has a naturally calming effect on irritated throats and nasal passages.
Even without any medicinal active ingredients, gargling with a minty fluid like mouthwash or breathing cool air over a mint pastille can instantly soothe the inflamed tissue associated with a raspy cough or stuffy cold.
The natural partner to menthol, eucalyptus is common in all sorts of cough and cold products and breathing aids.
Its essential oil has a distinctive flavour – warm and bitter at first, but with cooling after effects – that can help to enhance menthol’s impact on rough and ragged throats.
Ginger has direct anti-inflammatory effects thanks to some of the compounds it contains, and many people just like the taste, especially steeped in hot water with some honey.
It’s another warming flavour, making it a good addition to hot drinks in winter whether you have a cold or not.
Cinnamon is another popular seasonal flavour ingredient and like many spices, it’s associated with benefits including anti-inflammatory properties.
Some people swear by a mixture of four parts raw honey to one part powdered cinnamon as a kind of homemade cough medicine – although the scientific evidence to support this one is thin on the ground, it’s still a delicious and all-natural way to coat a dry throat in a similar way to glycerin-based cough syrup.
It’s not just the spices that can reputedly help tackle coughs and colds – rosemary is a herbal remedy that has been used since the Ancient Greeks burned it as incense.
Rosemary essential oil is another warming solution that many people find calming, particularly if you have nausea among your symptoms. Steep sprigs of rosemary for a few minutes or add rosemary essential oil to hot water and breathe the steam to ease your symptoms.
Another herbal remedy for coughs and colds, thyme can also be steeped in boiling water before you inhale the steam, and can be combined with rosemary and other herbs such as oregano too.
If you can handle the smell, some sources suggest adding vinegar to the water to aid evaporation – although if you’re already feeling nauseous, you might want to think twice.
Recommending lime for coughs and colds might sound odd at first, but its citrus sibling the lemon is a common flavour ingredient and lime packs many of the same bioflavonoid benefits.
Add fresh lime juice to your homemade herbal teas with honey to balance the bitterness – it’s also a good way to take the edge off of honey’s sweetness if you don’t normally have a sweet tooth.