Colds • Natural home remedies and treatment

Colds are caused by many different viruses. Your body responds to the foreign invader with some or all of a usual set of symptoms.

Eucalyptus leaves, help fighting colds

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

PREVALENCE

The NCBI estimates that children can have six to ten colds a year if they attend school or daycare. Adults commonly have two to four colds a year.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

There is no cure for a common cold, so people turn to pain relievers, nasal sprays, decongestants, cough syrup—a nice little cocktail of chemicals.

SELF TREATMENT

Some of the suggestions below may help you get through a cold sooner and more comfortably than if you do nothing at all.

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against disease and inflammation. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent starting point.

FOODS THAT PROMOTE HEALING

  • Blueberries
  • Bone broth
  • Broccoli
  • Chicken soup, hot, to unclog nasal passages and increase the flow of mucus
  • Chili peppers to clear the nasal passages
  • Cranberries
  • Garlic stimulates the immune system. Works best when consumed raw (crushed, diced or minced). Garlic is a blood-thinner. If you are on meds, check with your doctor.
  • Honey (not recommended for children under one year)
  • Kale
  • Spicy radishes
  • Vitamin C-rich foods

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Fried foods
  • Heavy meals
  • Smoking

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Calendula ointment to lubricate raw skin
  • Dried mullein and thyme
  • Ginger tea
  • Green tea
  • Herbal throat sprays
  • Hops
  • Licorice root
  • Valerian

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Andrographis (Indian Echinacea)
  • Echinacea
  • Ginseng
  • Goldenseal

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil like coconut, or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath.

  • Basil
  • Cinnamon leaf
  • Clary Sage
  • Clove
  • Cypress
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Juniper
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Oregano
  • Peppermint oil
  • Pine
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Tea Tree
  • Thyme

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

  • Echinacea at the first sign of a cold
  • Monolaurian has antiviral properties, capsule form
  • Probiotics
  • Vitamin C may shorten the duration of the cold
  • Zinc sprays and lozenges (too much zinc can affect your sense of smell)

HYDRATION

Staying hydrated will help to loosen up congestion so have plenty of broth and herbal teas.  Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ ounce to 1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Exercise gently. That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend. Do what works for you to keep mellow.  If relaxing is difficult for you, try some of the techniques in the Stress post.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • A hot shower or bath can help with your congestion.
  • Eat lightly; more fresh fruits and vegetables than usual
  • Epsom salt and baking soda bath
  • For tickles in your throat, try gargling with a tannin-rich tea to tighten the membranes.
  • Gargle with warm salt water a few times a day to keep your throat moist.
  • Hot or cold packs for congested sinuses
  • Humidify to help you breathe easier
  • Keep warm to conserve energy.
  • Menthol or camphor rubs may relieve congestion but if you use homeopathy, check with your doctor because these substances may antidote remedies.  If you use homeopathic remedies, try a rub with coconut oil and peppermint oil.
  • Mild exercise after the first days
  • Rest during the early stages.
  • Sleep with your head slightly raised to encourage drainage.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

PREVENTION

The best prevention seems to be engaging in behavior that supports a healthy immune system:

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep
  • Regular exercise
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