It’s that time of year again – the time of coughs, colds, sniffling, and sneezing. Nobody likes to get sick, and whether we get sick every year or just occasionally, the cold and flu season is a fact of life. We’re bombarded with every kind of advertisement under the sun for the latest and greatest cold and flu treatments, from cough syrups to decongestants, nasal sprays to vapor rubs, fizzy tablets to liquigels – it’s no wonder it takes us such a long time to choose a product from the shelf. Who wants to deal with all of this when they’re already feeling under the weather?
Unfortunately, too many of us wait until it’s too late to try to heal ourselves. The truth of the matter is that there is no scientific cure for the common cold. Lots of rest and fluids is usually what the doctor orders.
But the first step is prevention. Boosting our body’s natural immune system through natural means, can give it the strength it needs to fight back at the first sign of infection.
Here are 5 natural ways to boost your immunity and keep the cold bug from getting you and your family down this season:
- Vitamin C – The first on any list of natural cold prevention, Vitamin C helps protect the body against infection, maintain a strong a immune system, and increases white blood cell production. It can be taken in pill form, but lots of fresh fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of it: oranges, lemons, strawberries, and tomatoes, to name a few. More foods packed with vitamin C can be found here and here.
- Zinc – A great preventive for the common cold, zin has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms, and the duration of the overall cold. It can be taken as a syrup, tablets, or lozenges, and should be taken at the very first sign of a cold, for best results. Avoid taking the direct nasal applications, as they’ve been shown to have some bad side effects. Some zinc-packed foods can also be found here.
- Echinacea – Another great preventive for colds, echinacea is an herbal plant that’s been shown to reduce one’s chances of contracting the common cold. Take echinacea at the start of the cold season to boost your immunity, but it’s not recommended to take for longer than 2 weeks at a time, after which it becomes ineffective.
- Nasal Rinse – If you’ve never heard of a neti-pot, don’t worry – not many have. But these things have gained in popularity over the past few years, and for good reason! This nasal rinse helps flush out and clean your nasal passages with nothing but simple saltwater. They’re very affordable and can be found at most drugstores.
- Stay Hydrated – Viruses are known to thrive in dry conditions, like the cold, dry winter months, and the dry, heated indoors that come along with it. Make sure your body is well hydrated with water, teas, and soups, to keep your immune system fighting long and strong.
But what if you’ve already succumbed to the grip of this season’s bug? Don’t rush to the drug store just yet! Chances are, you have everything you need right at home to help treat your symptoms, keep yourself comfortable, and even shorten the span of the cold! Oh, and don’t bother running to the doctor for some antibiotics, since they do nothing to treat cold viruses and can have some nasty side effects.
Here are 5 more natural ways to treat cold symptoms and get your body’s immune system back on track:
- Chicken Soup – The old time favorite – and for good reason! Chicken soup contains high levels of immune boosting vitamins and nutrients to help your body fight off infection.
Eucalyptus Oil – As an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory, eucalyptus oil’s decongestant properties can help break up phlegm and mucus. Either dilute it with some coconut oil and rub on chest, neck, and back, or add a few drops to a bowl of boiling water and inhale the steam to help clear up any congestion.
- Cinnamon – Chinese medicine has used cinnamon for treating colds for a long time! Make a tea either with powdered cinnamon or cinnamon sticks and drink twice a day.
- Ginger – A natural immune booster and anti-inflammatory, ginger helps promote healthy sweat during colds, and can be taken raw or made into a tea.
- Honey & Lemon Tea – By far, one of the best ways to treat a nasty cough and soothe a dry throat is making up a simple tea with just honey and lemon. Add a spoonful of raw honey and a some fresh squeezed lemon juice to a cup of hot water and sip it slowly a couple times a day. Other tea recipes can be found here.
In addition to these natural prevention and treatments, here is a list of different homemade teas, tinctures, and other recipes to help treat various symptoms:
- Natural Sore Throat & Cough Remedy – The healing powers of raw honey, cider vinegar, and traditional spices come together to make this super potent and powerful alternative to commercial cough syrups.
- Immune Boosting Tea – This tea is high in Vitamin C and contains herbs that will help kick that cold to the curb. Begin taking at the first sign of cold or flu symptoms to help support your body’s normal immune function.
- Honey & Lemon Sore Throat Drops – These have a cough-drop-type texture that are perfect for sucking on to sooth the sore throat of a big kid or adult.
- Homemade Elderberry Syrup – Elderberry is used to prevent cold and flu, and can be more effective than the flu vaccine, since it protects against eight different strains of influenza, while the vaccine is only design to kill one strain.
- 10 Natural Home Remedies for Colds – Ten natural home remedies that are known to be just as effective in treating the common cold.
What are you go-to natural methods for cold prevention and treatment?
About the Author:
Sarah is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mother. She is the author of Nature’s Nurture – a blog about everything simple, natural, and homemade – in which she documents the changes she’s making to slowly convert her home into a more natural, sustainable, toxic-free environment for her family. Nature’s Nurture also serves as a resource for others looking for simple ways to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle. You can follow along at her blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.