If you’re trying to steer clear from medication during this cold season, try these natural remedies to get you back on your feet.
I grew up in the heartland, in a small town in the rural Midwest. My home was surrounded by tall fields of corn and soybeans—all heavily sprayed with pesticides. The local diners served large American-style breakfasts with generous helpings of high fructose corn syrup. So, as you might have guessed, we didn’t use natural remedies when we caught a cold. We medicated.
But in recent years, I’ve noticed a popular trend. Many fellow Grownups are shying away from medications, instead opting for natural treatments. It seems we’ve come full circle, using the same healthy herbs our ancestors relied on for hundreds of years.
Natural treatments will boost your immune system, save you money, and reduce your exposure to the harsh side effects sometimes seen with regular medications.
While I’m still a Midwesterner at heart, as a Grownup, I’ve started to change my habits. Whenever I’m sick, I use a natural remedy or combine it with a lower dosage of my preferred medication. Below I’ve listed five remedies for you to try this season season. See if they work for you!
Natural Remedy #1: Steam
Stuffy nose? No problem. Take a bowl of hot water mixed with one or more:
- Tea tree oil
- Orange peel
Drape a towel over your head and lean over the bowl of your steaming concoction. Breathe deeply, through your nose if possible. The steam will loosen the contents of your nasal passages until they drain. (Alternatively, you can also use a Neti Pot.)
I recently tried steam inhalation for the first time, after my boyfriend introduced me to it. (There’s nothing more romantic than draining your nose in front of your partner.) You will feel awkward, but that’s part of being ill! I suggest starting farther away from the bowl and gradually getting closer as the water cools off. You can burn your skin if the water is very hot, so use your best judgment. Repeat this method two to three times a day, as needed. Steam inhalation will help your congestion and, as a bonus benefit, cleanse your pores!
Natural Remedy #2: Echinacea
This natural anti-inflammatory herb has been carried around in medicinal bags for hundreds of years. In fact, the Great Plains Indian tribes used echinacea.
Aside from decreasing inflammation, echinacea may also boost your immune system—the ultimate defense against the common cold. According to Dr. Axe, if you catch it early enough, echinacea can reduce the duration of the illness or cut your chances of getting the virus by 58 percent. For a sore throat, try tea or throat lozenges infused with echinacea.
Natural Remedy #3: Raw Garlic
Do you think garlic’s only purpose is to make meals more delectable? The stinking rose also works wonders for curing the common cold through its antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.
If you’re like me, you already love to cook with garlic, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a few extra cloves lying around the kitchen. The best way to consume garlic as a natural remedy is raw, so you can juice it or simply chop it up and sprinkle it over your lunch.
Some natural remedy enthusiasts will actually sleep with a homemade garlic solution on their feet! I hear this method works wonders for coughs and chest congestion. If you’re interested in trying this cold busting technique, follow these directions:
- Mix two crushed garlic cloves with a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small bowl
- Let sit for one hour
- Rub the solution on your feet before bed, and don’t be afraid to leave in a few chunks of garlic
- Put on a pair of socks and go to sleep.
The next morning you may taste garlic in your mouth, so be sure to warn anyone who could be affected by your morning breath. It’s also a good idea to throw away your garlicky socks!
Natural Remedy #4: Ginger
Similar to garlic, ginger contains dozens of antiviral compounds. You can eat it raw, make an oil-based solution with it to put in your socks, or add it to your favorite hot tea with honey and lemon.
Natural Remedy #5: Yogurt
Good news—you now have an excuse to eat yogurt when you’re sick! Probiotics are good bacteria, often found in dairy products such as yogurt. These living microbes work as fixers and equalizers, aiding your body’s gut balance. A healthy gut is the key to a healthy immune system, and studies have shown that probiotics reduce the duration and severity of the virus.
When shopping at the grocery store, look for yogurts with the ingredient l. acidophilus, and eat up that healthy remedy!
As I’ve mentioned, having a healthy immune system is the first step to cold prevention. You can help increase your immunities by taking a daily multi-vitamin, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and maintaining good hygiene. When you start to feel symptoms coming on, try increasing your Vitamin C with a glass of orange juice and any of the five remedies.
Natural remedies may not be everyone’s cup of ginger tea (sorry, bad joke), but these cold busters have real staying power. Benefits vary per person, and some people swear by them. Even this Midwestern girl has jumped on the natural remedy bandwagon! So go ahead and experiment with a natural remedy the next time you feel sick. The cure you’ve been searching for might be sitting in your pantry.
*Disclosure: The writer is not a trained medical professional. Consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns, such as allergies, about natural remedies.
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