Blame it on Nashville’s fast fluctuations in temperature or our having kids at home, we all got sick last week. One became two became a full family of runny noses. So while we were pounding supplements, sipping smoothies and making another tissue run, I started this list. Your go-to roundup of home remedies for the common cold.* Keep it for next time you’re sick (knock on wood).
Like it or not, at some point or another, we’re all going to get colds. According to Nicola Davison at The Guardian, what’s considered normal today is “an average of between two and four colds each year” for adults and for “children, up to 10.” Woah. We’re all so used to this idea, in fact, we call it common. The common cold. But just because you have to get a cold doesn’t mean you have to surrender to it.
What’s your plan of attack when sickness strikes?
What strategies do you have to lessen discomfort?
Because the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling ill is research, here’s a list to keep on hand. The next time you’re sniffling and sneezing, try these home remedies for the common cold–and make those three, four, ten days a little less miserable.
- Lots of water. Let’s face it, most of us aren’t drinking enough water every day as it is. So step one in cold remedies: fluids. As soon as you know you’ve got a cold coming, grab a cup. According to The Mayo Clinic staff, “Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration.” Just as important, by the way, is what not to drink. Skip anything with caffeine or alcohol, which make dehydration worse.
- Rest. As tempting as it is to power through a cold when you’re busy or stressed, don’t. Stress does your immune system no favors, and pushing yourself too hard may zap resources better spent on healing.
- Movement. For basic head-cold symptoms, try to get some exercise. Moving your body helps increase blood flow, acts a natural decongestant and may boost your overall mood, to boot. And when you’re not under the weather, staying active has been shown to be a preventative measure for colds and illness, too. According to Amanda MacMillan at Health.com, “A 2011 University of Virginia study found that varsity swimmers who did qi gong at least once a week came down with 70 percent fewer respiratory infections that their teammates who practiced it less often.”
- Warm soup to sip. A great way to get your liquids in is broth, a hydrating liquid that’s also loaded with minerals and compounds. That’s probably why chicken noodle soup is such a cold-fighting cliché. So what soup to make? Pictured in this post is a simple Asian-themed version. Here’s what to do. Chop half an onion (white, yellow or red) and saute it in 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil. Once soft, add in three diced carrots and generous shakes of ground ginger and ground garlic. Add three to four cups of chicken broth, as well as leftover cooked veggies, chicken and/or rice. Salt to taste. Serve topped with toasted sesame oil and fresh basil.
- Salt water gargle. To soothe a sore throat and loosen thick mucus, gargle with “a solution consisting of one-quarter teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water,” says Medical News Today.
- Steam. If you’re all clogged up, try taking a long, hot shower or leaning over a bowl of hot water with a towel draped over your head. Warm, moist air is not only comforting, but also known to thin and loosen mucus.
- Propped pillows. There’s nothing like the exhaustion of needing to sleep when your body won’t let you. If congestion is stopping you from sleep, prop yourself up on extra pillows. According to William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, in an interview with US News, raising your head “promotes sinus drainage down the back of your throat and will open up your nasal passages a little bit.”
- Hydrogen peroxide. Reporter Janice Norris from The Sun Times says, from firsthand experience, that a home remedy she saw posted by health guru Dr. Joseph Mercola stops a cold in its tracks. What is it? Pouring half a capful of hydrogen peroxide in each ear several times a day. “The peroxide starts working within 2 to 3 minutes,” she reports. “I have found that if I am getting a cold, the peroxide bubbles so much that bubbles sometime run down the side of my face.”
- Elderberry. An informal Instagram survey asking for favorite natural cold remedies received multiple recommendations for elderberry. Elderberry syrup. Elderberry juice. And, for kids, elderberry gummies that at least one two-year-old I know thinks are as good as candy.
- Olive leaf extract. Studies on the oleuropein compounds in olive leaf extract may boost antioxidants, improve immune function, maintain healthy blood sugar levels and promote healthy bacteria balance in the gastrointestinal tract, according to Gaia Herbs.
- Oregano oil. Considered a natural antibiotic and antiviral agent by many, oregano oil (also called “oil of oregano”), may be diluted one to four with a carrier oil and rubbed on the body. Some people also take it internally, such as Delighted Momma blogger, Lindsay Kujawa. “I wake up with a cold or a sore throat, I take a few drops and by the next morning any sign of a cold is gone,” she says. For remedies using essential oils, check out this post from Tips Bulletin that has ideas and recipes.
- Zinc. Another supplement to have on hand for cold season is zinc. According to Prevention Magazine, “Your body needs the mineral zinc to produce germ-fighting white blood cells,” so taking some may arm your body with extra immunity. ” At the same time, though, don’t take too much. “More than 50 mg a day can actually backfire and suppress your immune system.”
There’s nothing like a few days under the weather to make you start appreciating everyday health when you have it. So the next time you’re fighting a sore throat or stuffy nose, work back towards your normal routine with this arsenal of remedies! Any way you can clear your head and sinuses is worth the effort.
If you’ve got another home remedy you swear by for treating colds, I’d love to hear about it–contact me here.
*This post is not medical advice or coming from a medical professional. Statements have not been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any particular disease.