Winter will be here before we know it and with the cooler temperatures and snowy days approaching we are also headed into the cold and flu season! Prevent yourself from getting sick this time of year and prepare your body using the following natural remedies for cold and flu season.
- Gargle - Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring temporary relief. Try a teaspoon of salt dissolved in warm water, four times daily. Tame the tickle in your throat using a thick, viscous gargle created with honey or a mixture of honey and apple cider vinegar. Steep one tablespoon of raspberry leaves or lemon juice in two cups of hot water and mix in one teaspoon of honey. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before gargling.
- Drink Hot Liquids - Hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, help prevent dehydration, and soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat.
- For a sore throat remedy, fill a 250 mL glass with warm water, mix in one teaspoon of salt and gargle away.
- Add a squeeze of lemon juice to a glass of warm water for the more traditional sore throat gargle. This creates an acidic environment that’s hostile to bacteria and viruses.
- Drink as much water as you can—eight or more 250 mL glasses—to keep mucous membranes moist and to help relieve dry eyes and other common flu symptoms.
- Wear wet socks to bed. This soggy strategy may help ease a fever and clear congestion by drawing blood to the feet, which dramatically increases blood circulation. (Blood stagnates in areas of greatest congestion.) Best method: Warm your feet in hot water. Then soak a thin pair of cotton socks in cold water, wring them out and slip them on just before going to bed. Put a pair of dry wool socks over the wet ones. The wet socks should be warm and dry in the morning, and you should feel much better.
- Try soaking your feet in a mustard footbath. In a basin, mix 1 tablespoon of mustard powder in 1 L of hot water. The mustard draws blood to your feet, which helps to relieve congestion.
- Breathe easy with steam. Pour just-boiled water into a large bowl. Drape a towel over the top of your head to trap the steam, and breathe in through your nose for five to 10 minutes. Don’t lower your face too close to the water or you risk scalding your skin or inhaling vapours that are too hot. To make steam inhalations more effective, add five to 10 drops thyme oil or eucalyptus oil to the water. Keep your eyes closed as you breathe in the steam, since both essential oils and steam may irritate your eyes. On the go? Dab a few tissues with eucalyptus oil and hold them under your nose whenever you feel congested.
- At the first hint of a cold, suck on a zinc gluconate lozenge every few hours. Don’t take zinc gluconate longer than a week because excessive zinc can actually weaken immunity. Avoid zinc lozenges that contain citric acid or are sweetened with sorbitol or mannitol; these ingredients seem to weaken the mineral’s effectiveness.
- As soon as you notice cold or flu symptoms, start taking 500 mg of vitamin C four to six times a day.
- Take one 250 mg astragalus capsule, twice daily, until you’re better. This ancient Chinese herb stimulates the immune system and seems to be highly effective at fighting colds and flu. To prevent a relapse, take one capsule twice a day for an additional week after your symptoms are gone.
- Goldenseal stimulates the immune system and has germ-fighting compounds that can kill viruses. As soon as you begin to feel sick, take 125 mg five times a day for five days.
- At the first sign of the flu, take 20 to 30 drops of elderberry tincture three or four times daily for three days. Elderberry has been used in Europe for centuries to fight viruses.
- Oscillococcinum, commonly called Oscillo, is widely recommended by naturopaths and herbalists to reduce the severity of flu symptoms. Be sure to use it within 12 to 48 hours of the first appearance of your symptoms. It comes in packages of three to six vials. Buy the three-vial pack and take one vial every six hours.
- A dose of garlic—a natural antiseptic—will do a job on those viruses. If you’re feeling very brave, hold a small clove or a half-clove of garlic in your mouth and breathe the fumes into your throat and lungs. If it gets too strong as the clove softens, just chew if up quickly into smaller pieces and swallow with water.
- For a serious congestion-busting blast, buy fresh horseradish or gingerroot, grate it and eat a small amount. To guard against upset stomach, wait until after a meal to try this.
- Drink a cup of ginger tea. Ginger helps block the production of substances that cause bronchial congestion and stuffiness, and it contains compounds call gingerols, which are natural cough suppressants.
Whether or not you live in cold climates take care of your health, and remember these natural remedies during the cold and flu season.