Nobody likes getting a cold or the flu. Your nose is stuffy, you have a headache and your voice is hoarse. You feel like cr*p and you probably look like one too. Thankfully, downing a whole bottle of Advil is not the only way to feel better. Remember how your mother always seemed to be able to make everything better? Well she really can and here are some of her most effective natural remedies.
DRINK WATER AND GET PLENTY OF REST
Before you even think about medicating yourself it’s a good idea to find out whether you’re really sick or whether your cold or flu are just symptoms of fatigue and dehydration. It’s just so much easier to contract an infection and that much harder to eliminate them when your body is not performing optimally. Mucus hyper-production and fever are just some of the body’s ways to eliminate the foreign threats (i.e. germs and viruses). By drinking plenty of water (which comprises 70% of your body by the way!) and getting plenty of rest, you are essentially providing your body enough ammo to fight another day.
One of the most common ways you develop a cough is from a nasal drip when you have a cold. Gargling with a warm salt water solution will prevent your cold from progressing into a cough or a sore throat. But even if you already have the flu and a sore throat, it’s not too late. Gargling with a warm salt water solution or warm honey solution with help provide relief to a scratchy throat, preventing further irritation. Here are some recipes that you may find to be useful:
- WARM WATER SOLUTION
Prepare 8 ounces of warm water, half a teaspoon of salt, mix and gargle 4 times daily.
- HONEY SOLUTION (Trivia: Honey is actually widely used for its anti-inflammatory characteristics)
Thin out a tablespoon of honey in 8 ounces of warm water. You may use this as a gargle or use this solution as a base for ginger or green tea.
GET SOME VITAMIN C INTO YOUR SYSTEM
This is one of the more traditional ways of treating colds and the flu naturally. You may opt to take it in multivitamin form, but eating citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables rich in vitamin C is also great, and not to mention it’s a yummy way to chase away the sniffles. Eat some orange or some grapefruit with breakfast or have a dark leafy green salad for dinner (use kale, spinach or Swiss chard). As a plus, vitamin C optimizes the absorption of minerals, like calcium and iron, in your body.
Used widely in Asian cuisine, ginger is also a well-known natural remedy for common colds and the flu. Ginger has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is even effective against the human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Below is a Filipino recipe for a ginger based remedy called “Salabat” which is used to treat coughs, colds and sore throats.
Make syrup using equal parts brown sugar and water. Add in crushed or sliced ginger, about the size of an adult thumb. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes to make the ginger flavor more intense. Add 1 part ginger “syrup” to 3 parts hot water to make tea. You can also use it instead of sugar for iced teas and other drinks.
There is promising evidence, and ample research, in the effectivity of ginseng as both a cure and a preventive measure for the common cold and flu. One study published in the open access journal Nutrients shows that ginseng, specifically red ginseng as this was the variety used in the study, does indeed help prevent and cure colds and the flu. The study, led by Sang-Moo Kang, found that red ginseng extracts help human lung epithelium survive being infected by the Influenza virus and that it also prevented the expression of genes that cause inflammation. In relation to RSV, it has also been found that red ginseng helps human lung epithelium fight off the virus as well as prevent the virus from multiplying and causing more harm to the body.
LET YOUR BODY DO WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO DO
We live in a time where there is a pill for everything, which is unfortunate because our bodies have been designed to be quite adept at protecting itself. For example, a fever is just the body’s response to an increased number of harmful foreign entities – the body is increasing its core temperature to kill harmful microbes.
Even if congestion is quite uncomfortable it plays an important role in the body’s defense against foreign organisms. Inflammation means higher circulation of blood in the infected area making it more accessible to white blood cells, while the thickening of the mucus when you have a cold is your body’s way of trapping and expelling harmful bacteria.
When you really think about it, letting your body do its job and allowing it to build immunity is the best and most natural way to cure colds and the flu. So when the next cold and flu season comes along, unless the symptoms have become severely uncomfortable, maybe the best way to deal with it is to just drink lots of water, get some rest and let your body do the work.