Natural Cold Relief
The Mayo Clinic describes symptoms of the Common Cold as including:
- runny nose, nasal congestion
- dry, itchy or mildly sore throat
- mild headache, body ache
- watery eyes
- low grade fever
- mild fatigue
The common cold infects millions of Americans every year. It isn upper respiratory infection (your nose and throat) caused by over 100 different viruses, and currently has no cure. We all know the easiest way to prevent the spread of the cold virus is to wash your hands and disinfect commonly touched surfaces (like door handles). Once infected, use disposable tissues for your nose and cough into your elbow to prevent further spreading the germs.
But what do you do to feel better if you do get sick?
The road to recovery always starts with the basics:
- Eat healthy! Cut out unnecessary fat, sugar and junk food. Often, a poor diet can compromise our immune systems, leaving us open to infection. Stick to lots of fruits and veggies, with lean protein for energy and your body will bounce back sooner than you think!
- Drink lots of fluids. Water is of course best, but juice, tea and other clear liquids keep you hydrated and healthy. Don't worry about skipping your daily coffee or tea when feeling under the weather. They contribute to the daily need of 6-8 glasses of water, and the continuous health benefits you get--like the antioxidants in tea, or the heart healthy power in coffee--can only do you good.
- Get some REST! A cold won't always knock you on your back, but if you are feeling particularly achey and fatigued, take a break. If you can manage it, maybe taking a day off from work would be best, but even a quick nap or "down-time" during your normal schedule will help recovery. Don't forget to get a good night's sleep!
Some people take a trip to their pharmacy and select any number of over-the-counter cold symptom relievers, and they may help get you through the day. However, those come with plenty of side effects, and, if you are like me, will suffer worse from the medication than from the cold. If you have any previous health conditions, doctors may recommend staying clear of cold pills or elixirs. Many of us have chosen to handle minor health complaints with herbal, homeopathic or tried and true "Old World" remedies. There are various reasons to not choose medicine to battle your cold. I'll explain the natural home remedies I continue to use for my family.
**Always ask your doctor if any remedy is right for you, especially if pregnant, nursing or taking other medication.
Side Effects of Vitamin C
Side effects of taking Vitamin C supplements are not common or rare, but you should discontinue use immediately and contact your medical health provider should you have symptoms such as:
- diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or stomach cramps
- dizziness or fainting (from injection)
- flushed or red skin
- mild increase in urination
for further information, see: http://www.drugs.com/sfx/vitamin-c-side-effects.html
Adding more Vitamin C to diet will give you extra support this cold season. It has been known to boost your immune system, helping to prevent illness. Some studies show that upping your your Vitamin C when already sick may reduce the severity of symptoms and the duration of a cold.
According to The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies (Bantam, 2003), experts recommend 100-500 mg of Vitamin C daily, in order to be effective. To keep your levels even throughout the day, take half the dose in the morning, and the other at night.
Foods that are high in Vitamin C:
- bell peppers
- citrus fruit
Cold Killer Cocktail
In 8-12 oz of hot water:
2 slices of citrus fruit (I prefer lemon and orange)
1/2 tsp (more or less to taste) ginger
dash of cayenne pepper
tsp (more or less to taste) honey
Citrus fruit is high in Vitamin C, and honey is a natural immune booster, plus it soothes your throat. Ginger is known as a natural analgesic (pain reliever) and anti-inflammatory. It is commonly used to fight nausea, but it also gives your body a wonderful warming effect to help ease your chills. Cayenne pepper is full of antioxidants and also works as an analgesic, soothing a sore throat. Drink this up to 3 times a day, but be warned that both citrus fruit and cayenne can cause digestive discomfort in large doses.
An exerpt from my previously posted blog, The Magic and Mysteries of Elderberries:
"Elderberries have amazing anti-viral properties. They are an excellent way to boost your immune system, and it has been noted that consuming Elderberry juice can shorten the time span of a cold or flu. A doctor can prescribe a chemical anti-viral medication that "might shorten the duration" of the flu symptoms, but Elderberry juice supposedly does the same. It is used to bring respiratory relief, and may reduce the swelling of mucus membranes and sinuses, as well. WebMD suggests drinking Elderberry juice in order to ease symptoms like a fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, cough and body aches within 24 hours of their onset. Supposedly, it will cut the amount of suffering time of the illness by up to half. A study showed that Elderberries contain a property that can kill the H1N1 (swine flu) virus in test tubes, but there are doubts it would work in humans."
For centuries, elderberries have been used for medicinal purposes. They are great brewed as juice, tea or into a syrup. For some recipes, check out:
Tea and Honey
Growing up, my mom would make me a hot cup of tea with honey when I was sick. It was a tradition passed down from her mother, but it's more than an old wive's tale. The Doctor's Book of Home Remedies explains the science behind it. Hot liquids soothe a sore throat and helps make mucus flow, flushing your sinuses. Honey, an immune system booster, soothes irritated tissues and relieves cough receptors in the throat. Have a cup of honey-sweetened camomile or other relaxing tea at bedtime since the sugar in honey is a simple carbohydrate that has a sedative effect.
Hot Water Therapy
The comfort of hot water can be soothing in many ways when you are ill. Here are a few ways you can ease your discomfort:
Hot Bath: Fill the tub with nice hot water, add half a cup of epsom salt, 10 drops of eucalyptus oil, and 10 drops of lavender oil. Sit and relax. Eucalyptus will open your sinuses, relieving some of your congestion. Epsom salt is used by athletes to soothe sore muscles and lavender is synonymous with relaxation. Don't take a hot bath, though, if you are running a fever. Lukewarm or on the chillier side is best to lower your temperature.
Gargle: To ease a sore throat add 1 tsp salt to 8 oz warm water and gargle for a few minutes. THe salt relieves the scratchiness in your throat that a cold can produce.
Steam your sinuses: There are 2 effective ways essential oils and steam can clear your head of congestion. I use these both with my son and myself, giving us almost immediate relief.
- Turn your shower on the hottest it will go, close the bathroom door and allow the steam to build up. Drop 5 drops of eucalyptus oil on the floor of the shower. Sit as comfortably as you can and breathe in the steam. Add lavender oil, or any other sent you find comforting.
- Boil water and pour some into a medium sized bowl, adding 5 drops of eucalyptus oil. Lean over the bowl, with a towel covering your head, close the edges around the bowl, creating a tent. Let the steam billow around you and breathe deeply.
It isn't called "Old World Penicillin" for nothing! When you're sick, a nice hot bowl of homemade chicken soup is probably the most comfort you can find. Not only does the combination of ingredients taste wonderful, the delicious broth acts like a natural expectorant. This speeds the flow of mucus in the nasal passages, pushing the virus out and clearing your congestion. Garlic and onions are known to have antiviral properties. Chicken soup is great for recovering from any nausea or stomach upset the illness may have caused. It's also helpful after a fever as electrolytes in the broth will keep you hydrated. The Mayo Clinic states that chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the immune system response. I'll share an easy recipe to make your own cold fighting soup.
Ingredients (for 2.5 servings)
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 large chicken thighs (skin and bone on)
- 1/2 onion
- 6 celery stalks
- 2 large carrots
- 3 medium potatoes
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup other veggies if desired
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp each oregano, basil, tumeric, Adobo seasoning
- salt, black pepper, hot pepper to taste
in large pot, heat olive oil on low. chop onions, garlic, celery, add to pot. add seasoning, sautee until aromatic, about 7 minutes. slowly add broth. chop other veggies, add them and the chicken to the pot. halfway through cooking time, remove chicken thighs, pulling the meat from the bone, discard skin and bones. return meat to pot. let simmer on low for 1-2 hours.
Ease your ailments naturally
As cold season fast approaches, prevention is always the best defence. Vitamin C and Elderberry juice can be taken regularly to help ward off sickness before you feel symptoms. Most of these remedies are safe to be used in combination, and I apply them all to myself and my son when we are suffering. I would love to hear, in the comments, any home remedies you and your family use.
I am not a licensed medical professional. This material is not meant to diagnose, treat or prevent any illnesses. Seek medical attention if experiencing any of the following symptoms, as they may be signs of a more serious condition:
- fever above 103, or for more than 3 days
- excessive vomiting
- difficulty breathing
- expelling, thick, green mucus
- severe pain in the nose, throat, ear or abdomen