Natural remedies to ease the common cold
Consider these natural remedies to keep that healthier-you resolution
By Megan Gartrell, Staff Writer
With New Year’s resolutions fresh in many minds, countless self-improvers strive to be healthier in 2013. Perhaps you’re still recovering from that memorable New Year’s Eve party, or your body is still in holiday mode despite classes being back in session. Whatever the reason, January can be a brutal month for catching a cold. The average person typically catches between two and four colds per year. If your goal is to avoid reaching for the nearest bottle of cold and flu pills, consider the following seven natural remedies to keep that healthier-you resolution intact.
… consider the following seven natural remedies to keep that healthier-you resolution intact.
1. Dust off those Jazz records
According to the website www.besthealthmag.ca, research has shown that enjoying the smooth sounds of Thelonious Monk or Dizzy Gillespie for 30 minutes boosts levels of Immunoglobulin A (IgA), an immune protein that plays a critical role in defending against infection. Naturopathic doctor Jean-Jacques Dugoua said, “IgA resides in the mucosa — the lining of the nose, mouth, throat and other areas of the body. It acts as an antibody and prevents virus, bacteria and other microorganism infection.” Even after the music stops, the effects on IgA levels can continue for an additional half-hour so keep those records spinning until the sniffles subside.
2. Savour some chicken soup
Just like Nana used to make. Some remedies are long-established for a reason—they work. Joy Bauer, registered dietician and founder of Joy Bauer Nutrition Centers, explains on her website, www.joybauer.com, “Hot fluids in general help to keep nasal passages moist, increase the movement of mucus, prevent dehydration and soothe a sore throat. Even more promising, studies have shown that chicken soup with a variety of veggies may contain substances that function as an anti–inflammatory mechanism and potentially ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, including congestion, stuffy nose, cough and sore throat.” Your mom might not be able to make a house call, but a big bowl of chicken soup and a glass of ginger ale can be the next best thing.
3. Focus on the feet
It is common to rub Vicks VapoRub on the chest or back to relieve congestion when suffering from a cold but if that isn’t cutting it, try applying the ointment to the soles of the feet, covering up with wool socks and getting some rest. Many claim this is an effective cure for a pesky cough.
Another similar remedy requires donning a pair of wet socks, covering them with wool or thermal socks and snuggling up under a warm blanket. Quoted on www.besthealthmag.ca, Leslie Solomonian, ND and assistant professor at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, said, “Wearing cold socks to bed when coming down with a cold can mimic the effects of immune-enhancing hydrotherapy treatments. Cold socks stimulate the body to increase circulation to the feet, relieving congestion from the head, regulating immune response and aiding in the elimination of waste. By morning socks are usually dry and feet wake up toasty and warm.”
One of the most common symptoms of a cold is a sore throat. Gargling with salt water can help for several reasons. According to Dr. Philip T. Hagen, as quoted on the New York Times website, “A saline solution can draw excess fluid from inflamed tissues in the throat, making them hurt less. Gargling also loosens thick mucus, which can remove irritants like allergens, bacteria and fungi from the throat.”
Try a teaspoon of salt dissolved in warm water, four times daily. Or combine honey and apple cider vinegar.
5. Feast on a raw onion
Onions are known for both their anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. They are also naturally antimicrobial, especially when they haven’t been cooked. “They contain a lot of sulfur, which is helpful for both immune responsiveness and detoxification,” said Dr. Solomonian. Try making an onion soup, or using raw onions in a homemade cough syrup. Some traditions even recommend placing sliced onions beside the bed at night. The theory is that the raw onion will absorb germs in the air, preventing them from entering the body.
6. Reach for a glass of coconut water
Coconut water, or nature’s Gatorade, seems to be the go-to choice for curing a hangover but it can also help fight off a cold. Suffering from a cold or fever can result in a major loss of fluids. Hydration is key in helping the body recover. Instead of reaching for a glass of orange juice, try coconut water instead. Coconut water is rich in electrolytes, which help balance blood chemistry. It also has more potassium, less sodium and fewer of the artificial sweeteners that most sports drinks contain, which means you can enjoy it guilt-free.
7. Get off the couch
Strengthening the immune system is one of the best ways to fight the common cold. Plenty of regular exercise and a diet packed with vegetables and fruit is the best way to kick your immune system into high gear. According to www.webmd.com, “Regular exercise appears to have the advantage of being able to jump-start the immune system, and that can help reduce the number of colds you get. If you exercise regularly, this temporary increase can help make the immune system more efficient at destroying intruders that cause illness such as colds.” Don’t be afraid to exercise moderately once a cold has moved in, but above all, listen to your body. Give your body plenty of time to rest and recover following a workout, especially when you’re feeling under the weather.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold, but hopefully these seven natural remedies will help ease the pain and symptoms that accompany it and fuel your recovery.