There is nothing quite as miserable as a sore throat, body aches, headache, and the other wretched symptoms of a cold or flu. Uncomfortable symptoms make everything more difficult, from performing at work, to sleeping well at night. Antibiotics only fight against bacteria and therefore do not fight infections caused by cold and flu viruses, nor will these medications ease symptoms caused by these common viruses. Fortunately, you can relieve symptoms associated with a cold or flu by practicing some simple at home techniques that can boost the immune system, decrease symptoms and relieve your discomfort. Here is my top seven at home, do-it-yourself, suggestions to effectively combat cold and flu symptoms.
1. Garlic, Lemon, and Honey Tea
Garlic, lemon, and honey have antimicrobial and antiviral properties, meaning they kill or inhibit the growth of the microbes and viruses that are making you sick. In addition, honey and warm liquids are very soothing to an inflamed mucous membrane, like your throat.
Heat one cup of water with one clove of fresh garlic and pour over your favorite tea; chamomile or green tea each have their own healing properties. Add a quarter cup of honey and the juice of ¼ to ½ lemon to taste. Sip while hot. For convenience, make a large pot of tea and refrigerate unused portions to heat up later.
2. Cold Wet Socks
I know, the sound of this alone does not sound very appealing, but it is very effective.
Run a pair of thin cotton socks under cold water. Wring out the socks and place in freezer. Stick your feet in warm water for a few minutes then pull the icy cold socks onto your feet; cover with 110 percent dry wool socks and go to bed. We promise it’s only uncomfortable for a little while and you will wake with warm, cozy feet!
When you wear cold, wet socks to bed, your body has to work hard to warm up your feet. This jumpstarts your immune system and pulls congestion from your head, which in turn works all night to relieve congestion and other cold/flu symptoms.
3. Neti Pot
Use a neti pot to rinse thick mucus from your nose and sinuses.
Use sterile, lukewarm water (not tap water) and non-iodized salt, which is sold at most places where neti pots are available. To optimize results, some naturopaths suggest adding antiviral and antimicrobial agents to the water, but please consult with your ND before any additions. Bend your head down towards a bathtub, sink, or basin. Pour water from the neti pot into one nostril and allow the water to flow back out again from the nostril closest to the tub or sink.
4. Steam Inhalation
Certain herbs and essential oils, such as eucalyptus, lemon, thyme, sage, rosemary, ginger, Echinacea, and lavender are soothing to mucus membranes inflamed by cold or flu and have anti-viral effects, but it can be tricky to deliver these therapeutic herbs and oils to the inflamed tissue. Steam inhalation allows the therapeutic ingredients of these herbs and oils to come up through the nasal passages, where they can do the most good.
Use a humidifier, diffuser, or vaporizer to fill the air of your home with steam inhalation therapy. You can also lean over a pot of boiling water infused with these herbs for a concentrated effect; drape a towel over your head and breathe in deeply.
5. Elderberry Syrup
Available at nearly any health food store or drug store, elderberry syrup contains the antiviral properties your body needs to fight off symptoms of cold and flu. Appropriate for adults and children, elderberry syrup is also an antioxidant so it fights off the free radicals that can occur with illness and create symptoms.
Talk to your Naturopath about proper dosing for you.
6. Consume Soup and Liquids, Avoid Dairy and Sugar
Fighting off a cold or flu is a full time job that saps your body of the strength it needs to perform other functions. The struggle to fight off the virus takes a lot of your body’s energy, so it is important that your body doesn’t waste too much energy on things like digesting large amounts of food. You might experience a lack of appetite while you are sick. That’s ok. The body is smart and is telling you that it needs a break to focus on fighting the illness.
Listen to your body and choose your food carefully. Eat food in small amounts and focus on consuming clear soups and liquids. Drink water to flush the toxins from your system. Avoid dairy products and creamy soups, as they can create mucus that worsens congestion. Stay away from sugar as it can suppress your immune system.
7. Take Supplements
Arm your body with the nutritional supplements it needs to fight cold and flu bugs. Echinacea, zinc, and vitamins A and C are especially supportive of immune function. There are also many more virus fighting nutrients out there, but talk to your Naturopath to get the best individualized treatment for you.
Talk with your naturopathic doctor to learn which supplements and at home techniques may be right for you. Your ND can even find a personalized homeopathic remedy to help you overcome colds and flu.
***It is suggested that you always consult with a physician before starting any therapy. These suggestions do not take the place of medical care and a proper work up***