Nobody likes the runny nose and sore throat associated with having a “cold”, but did you know that symptoms of cold are really just your body trying to cleanse and heal itself? Therefore, the best remedies are not those that suppress symptoms, but those that support the body to heal itself.
Here are 10 natural home-remedies that help, rather than hinder, your body.
At the first sign of a scratchy throat, reach for the bottle of apple cider vinegar – raw, organic, unfiltered, and “with the mother” is best. You can drink it, or use it as a mouth wash and gargle. Add 1-2 tbsp to a glass of water for drinking purposes, or 1-2 tbsp to half a cup of water for gargling purposes.
2. Rug up to stay warm
Did you know that an increase of 1 degree in body temperature equals a 20% improvement in immune function? Wearing a neck scarf is a great way to keep the neck warm, since the throat and tonsils is where some of the first line of immune defence occurs.
This practice is widely used in traditional cultures, where you will often see people with a thick scarf wrapped around their necks or around their ears to keep them warm at first sign of infection. Unfortunately, the fashion-conscious West seems to have long abandoned such practices.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
Using an eye-dropper, carefully drop 2 drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide into one ear. Lie on your side, or keep head tilted, until the fizzing has disappeared and the hydrogen peroxide has made its way down the ear canal, then do the same for the other ear. It sounds slightly dubious, but it works a treat, if administered at the first sign of a cold.
Not to be used if there is infection in the ear, or burst ear drum.
One of Mother Nature’s wonder foods is garlic. It is anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-parasitic, and likely anti-anything-else-that’s-bad-for-you!
The general consensus seems to be that the best way to take garlic when you are suffering from cold is to make a soup, and when cooked, take off heat, and stir in plenty of crushed garlic – between 4 – 8 cloves. Yes, your breath will feel the after-effects!
It seems a shame that this even needs to be added to the list, but in our busy, work-obsessed culture, it has become normal to ignore the body’s cries for rest and nurturing.
In addition to the above point, fasting at the first sign of cold is a great way to free up energy from the constant burden of digestion. This energy can then be focused on healing and cleansing.
In his book “The Miracle of Fasting”, Paul Bragg maintains that a “cold” is simply the body’s attempts to rid itself of excess mucus, and fasting is the best way to speedy cleansing, healing and recovery. You must ensure that you still drink at least 2L of water over the course of the day.
If you have never fasted before, start gently – perhaps a half day or full day fast, ending with something light and easy to digest, such as fruit or soup.
Massage is a great way to keep the lymphatic system (otherwise known as the immune system) moving and clearing wastes from the body. Mucus or congestion on the chest can be helped via massage on the upper back, with firm upward strokes, which helps the body expel the mucus from the lungs.
Even better, is to massage with warm oil. Rub coconut oil, or other oil of choice, vigorously between the palms of your hand, until it is very warm, and then apply quickly to area of massage. This is particularly helpful on the upper back and chest at night, before sleep.
Winter is known as “flu” season, and one reason for the increase in coughs, colds and sniffles may be due to lack of sunlight during the colder months, which can lead to Vitamin D deficiency
Research shows that three-quarters of the population may be deficient in this nutrient, vital for proper immune function and healing. Sunlight is also known to have anti-microbial properties.
9. Fresh Air
Another reason that winter is known as “flu” season may be due to the lack of fresh air that we breathe during the colder months. For comforts’ sake, we prefer our heated, climate-controlled homes, offices, cars and gyms… but are they actually good for our health?
Florence Nightingale was a famous promoter of open windows to let the fresh air circulate, and it turns out she was on to something! Science has since confirmed that pathogens don’t like fresh air or sunlight.
An ancient remedy for ills and ails is salt. Spending time in salt caves was an ancient remedy for respiratory illnesses. If a salt cave is out of the question, there are still numerous ways you can use salt to your advantage.
Add some to warm water and use as a gargle for sore throats. Add a salt solution to a neti pot, and use to clear out sinuses. Turn your Himalayan salt lamp on. Add salt and hot water to a sink, and hold your face above the water to inhale the steam.
1. Ginde AA, Liu MC, Camargo CA. Demographic differences and trends of Vitamin D insufficiency in the US population: 1988-2004, JAMA, 2009, 169(6): 626-632.
2. Swain F. Fresh Air and Sunshine: The Forgotten Antibiotics, New Scientist, 11 December, 2013.