Cold & Flu Season | Home Remedies that Work
WARM SALT WATER GARGLE: Yes, it tastes really, really bad but it works. The salt and warm temperature of the water trigger your body to flush out your throat from the inside. Externally, the salt kills bacteria which will prevent a possible respiratory infection. I mix 2 teaspoons of table salt to 1 cup of warm water.
STEAMING: This is good for congested sinuses, tight chest and, as a bonus, your skin will look fabulous, too. Boil water and pour it in a large pot (do not use a glass bowl because it will break). Place the steaming pot of water on a table, pull up a chair, put your face over the pot, and put a towel over your head. Initially the steam will cause you to cough which is a good thing. But use common sense–don’t burn your face off and by all means let some air in under the towel if you are uncomfortable. Try to inhale the steam for 10 minutes or longer. I keep the kettle on the table for warm ups and a box of tissue nearby so I don’t have to get up. I also add 3 to 4 drops of essential eucalyptus oil to the hot water because of its natural decongestant and anti-inflammatory properties.
AVOID OVER-THE-COUNTER COLD MEDICINE: Taking cold medicine prevents the body from ridding itself of infectious byproducts (cellular waste, dead bacteria and viruses). Of course I’m the first to reach for Advil Cold & Sinus, Mucinex and Afrin when I have to pull it together for work, but on my days off I let it drain. Otherwise that stuff gets stuck inside your head and lungs and keeps you sick longer.
DRINK EXTRA WATER: The body must be well hydrated to thin mucus and flush out infection. Cold symptoms are compounded by dehydration which only makes things worse.
ZINC SUPPLEMENTS: When taken at the onset of illness (within the first 48 hours, the sooner the better), zinc fights off cold symptoms by regulating inflammation–your body’s reaction to infection. I triple or quadruple the dose on the bottle and take it 2 – 3 times a day. I stop taking it after the symptoms subside.
IBUPROFEN: Also known as Advil or Motrin, ibuprofen has anti-inflammatory properties that will help ease cold symptoms (swelling in the nose, throat and sinus passages) while reducing body aches. Tylenol, or acetaminophen, is still the best choice to bring down a fever.
In full disclosure, I added the zinc and ibuprofen but Grandma’s old-school advice still stands. She will do anything to avoid going to the doctor and now you can, too. We hope you feel better soon!