I was going to wait until the weather got a bit colder to post this, but everybody around me seems to have succumbed to the common cold in the past week, and now I have too!
My throat started to feel dry and scratchy on Friday, and I’m now wheezy and seriously in danger of losing my voice! Since I quit consuming dairy products in January this year, my colds have dramatically lessened in severity and nasal congestion is a thing of the past.
Logically therefore, my first tip to beating a cold is…
1. Stop eating Dairy!
By dairy, I mean, milk, cheese, butter, cream, basically anything made from or with cow’s, ewe’s or goat’s milk.
Milk and dairy products are considered by doctors to be mucus forming, and significantly worsen the catarrh associated with the common cold. Cutting them out while you have a cold is a smart move, and one recommended by the NHS as well as other online resources.
2. Eat yourself well
Lots of Fresh, Organic (where possible) fruits & vegetables, especially ones containing vitamin C and Zinc will help your body to fight the infection.
Onions and Garlic are often recommended for their strongly antiseptic, anti-viral, decongestant and expectorant properties.
This may not sound very exciting, but it’s a nice, easy and cheap way to beat that cold.
3. Drink lots of water & fluids
We all know this one, but not everybody understands why it’s so important. Yeah, yeah we say, I know I need to drink more water, but I don’t feel like it!
Well the good news, is that you don’t just have to drink cold water. Hot fruit infusions, ice lollies, coconut water, fruit juices, soups and broths are also on the menu.
When your immune system is fighting an infection or illness, your white blood cells have a lot of work on their hands. They capture and neutralise the bugs and send them into the urinary system to be expelled when you next have a wee. Now the problem is, in order for them to flush these nasties away down the tubes, they need extra water to do it.
Consuming plenty of fluids with also help to stop any mucus secretions from thickening (Ewww! Yes, I know!), making it harder to breathe.
4. Ease your Airways
Take a hot bath to relax muscles & release taut airways, just make sure you don’t get cold afterwards.
Keep your environmental air moist & humidified, take gentle outdoor exercise & get fresh air. Remember to wrap up warm.
Personally, I like to use a simple tea-light oil burner in my home. I fill the dish with water and add a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil which is an excellent decongestant.
Other essential oils that you may find helpful to add to your oil burner include:
Peppermint – Another great decongestant
Pine Needle – A strong germ killer, excellent for viral infections
Clary Sage – Mildly antiseptic, uplifting and relaxing
Thyme – Useful for headaches, coughs and colds
This is actually one of my own oil burners!
5. Hot Mustard Footbath
I have tried this and it’s actually quite pleasant. Not just an old wives tale, this does actually work!
A mustard foot bath can unblock a head cold, help to reduce a fever and soothe a headache. It draws blood to the feet which helps to disperse congestion, increases circulation and eases pressure on the blood vessels in your head.
If you’ve got an old tin of mustard powder knocking about at the back of the kitchen cupboard, this could be well worth a go. Just be careful not to stain anything with the bright yellow water!
The proportions to use are 2tsp mustard powder to 1/2 pt hot (not boiling) water in a suitable bowl. Pop your feet in, sit back and relax.
Remember to test the water temperature first – don’t burn yourself!
6. Bee Propolis
Make sure you check the label on the jar and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
7. Holistic Therapies
Reiki is wonderful for any illness, and Hopi Ear Candles can be helpful to reduce painful congestion of the ears and nose, but unfortunately no holistic therapist is going to be very impressed if you turn up full of cold and pass your germs on to them, so please stay away!
Distance Reiki Healing is ideal for this, or if you’re lucky enough to have somebody living in your household who is trained in Reiki, Hopi Ear candling or another holistic therapy that can help, then great.
Otherwise this is a no-no!
Easy Remedies from the Kitchen
Sage leaf tea for sore throats (suitable for vegans)
You can buy sage leaf teabags at your local health food store for convenience, or fresh sage leaves can also be bought at your local supermarket. You may be lucky enough to have fresh sage growing in your garden.
Make up a large mug of tea using either a Sage teabag or 2-3 Sage leaves and boiling water. Leave to infuse for 3-5 minutes.
You may like to sip this throughout the day, but personally I’m not a fan of a hot drink that tastes like turkey stuffing, so I usually allow the mixture to cool, and use it to gargle with 3-4 times a day.
A Spoonful of Honey
Either taken by the spoonful, or added to hot drinks throughout the day,
Honey is a natural expectorant & antiseptic so it’s great for colds, coughs and sore throats. If you take the time to read the ingredients on the side of any cough mixture bottle, you will usually find honey in there!
Acacia honey or Manuka honey are particularly helpful.
Lemon & Ginger Tea (suitable for vegans)
This is a personal favourite, and I’m not talking about the flavoured tea bags from the supermarket!
Ginger is an expectorant, a warming anti spasmodic, excellent for curing chills and it boosts the immune system.
Lemon contains a number of minerals & vitamins including potassium, and vitamins A, B & C and bioflavonoids.
To make up 2 pints, you will need, 1 large piece of ginger root (about 2 inches long), 1 whole unwaxed lemon & 2 pints of boiling water.
Peel the ginger & grate into the bottom of a large teapot or suitable large heat-proof jug. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze out all the juice using a citrus juicer, and add to the jug. Next cut the lemon skins into smaller pieces and add to the teapot or jug. Top up with boiling water, cover and leave to infuse for 3-5 minutes.
Add Honey or Agave syrup to taste.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but should hopefully provide some easy and practical suggestions for next time you’re feeling under the weather.
Sources used for this article:
Hedley, C & Shaw, W.: Herbal Remedies (2002).
Shreeve, Dr C.: Complete Wellbeing (2003).
Rich, P.: Practical Aromatherapy (2002)
The information and all remedies mention in this article are not intended to be used or construed as a substitute for the professional medical care and advice provided by a physician.
People who take the information and make decisions regarding their health or medical care, which they believe are based on ideas contained in this article, do so at their own risk.
The author is not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any of the suggestions or information contained in the article, but offer this material as information which the public has the right to hear and utilise at their own discretion.