Do you ever stop to think whether there is a safer, more effective natural remedy for the common ailments we experience every winter? If not, we’re glad you’re reading this! Let’s try to break the habit of going straight to the medicine cupboard for our regular ‘cures’ and look at powerful and effective natural ingredients proven to strengthen our bodies when our immune systems are low.
We’ve compiled some of our favourite natural cold-fighting remedies for you to try this winter. Here’s how you can safely keep the winter sniffles at bay:
Invest in a cool mist humidifier or an essential oil diffuser: A cool mist humidifier helps to ease cold symptoms or other respiratory conditions by moistening the air. An essential oil diffuser dispenses fine particles of moisture into the air around us. Adding a few drops of organic eucalyptus essential oil to the diffuser can gently aid in opening up the chest. If you don’t have a diffuser, or, would like a more intense steam treatment you can put a few drops of eucalyptus oil in a glass bowl, add boiling water and lean over the bowl. Cover your head with a towel to trap the steam in and inhale deeply for 5-10 minutes. The steam will open up your nasal passages so you can breathe better. With kids, you can do the same as above, but don’t lean over the bowl. Put the bowl in a safe place and let the steam filter through the room. The Pure Beginnings Natural Chest Rub contains eucalyptus and lavender oil, and a teaspoon of the chest rub in hot water for the steam treatment may be substituted for the pure eucalyptus essential oil.
Nasal irrigation: This can be an effective way to relieve sinus symptoms. You can use a neti pot, or a nasal squeeze bottle. Fill the neti pot (or squeeze bottle) with 1 teaspoon of salt in warm water (pre-boiled or distilled) to wash out sinuses. The salt kills bacteria and the warm water flushes out the nasal passages. For babies, please use a gentle baby saline nasal spray or drops. The salt can easily burn their nasal cavity.
Hydration and Rest: If your body is fighting an illness the best support you can give is to stay well hydrated and rest as much as possible. You are more prone to be dehydrated if you are running a fever, so drink lots of water! Also, sleep! Your body needs time to fight off the germs and recover. It is hard to accept but if you keep pushing yourself, your cold will only last longer.
When it comes to food, there is so much we can tap into:
- Garlic: This health-boosting powerhouse is naturally antibiotic, anti-fungal, and antibacterial. It’s not just good on pizza – garlic can tackle almost any illness. For the most potent effect, finely mince 1-2 cloves of garlic and float in a small glass of water. Drink it quickly. If you are sick enough, you won’t even notice the taste. (Please note: pregnant women should not take more than 1 clove of garlic medicinally per day, and children will often resist this remedy, not surprisingly!).
- Ginger: Ginger helps bring down inflammation, clear congestion and support the immune system. To make ginger tea, add freshly grated ginger root (about 2 teaspoons) in a cup of hot water. Not only is it good for your body but it is often used to soothe sore throats as well!
- Honey: Make sure it’s local and raw. Honey has wonderful antioxidants, antiviral and antibacterial properties. It also boosts the immune system and soothes sore throats and coughs. Add 1-2 tablespoons to ginger tea or just a cup of warm boiled water. Honey is so delicious, so be careful you don’t overdo it – and it is not advised to give kids under 1 years old.
- Lemon: Vitamin C has long been known to support the immune system and fight off colds. Fruits and veggies high in Vitamin C are lemons, oranges, kiwis, red peppers, guavas, strawberries, dark leafy greens, papaya, broccoli and brussels sprouts. So stock up!
- Familiar with the Hot Toddy? Mix your own combination of ginger, lemon and honey in boiling hot water to sip on. This is a firm favourite in many households.
- If you’re daring enough: pure garlic, ginger, honey and lemon – the combination is known as a natural anti-biotic; powerful and potent! For adults: after a meal (you don’t want this on an empty tummy), crush or grate equal portions of the 4 ingredients into a small mug. The consistency should look like a paste. Shut your eyes, block your nose and spoon it into the back of your mouth. Swallow it down with some hot water. It’s not exactly tasty, but it can bring you back from the tipping point within hours!
- Other suggestions:
- Oil of Oregano is an excellent antimicrobial and antiviral treatment, but please do NOT use it if you are pregnant.
- Apple Cider Vinegar (endearingly known as ACV) is the new buzz word in the world of everything natural because of its abundance of health benefits. Use it to make a tea. Mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1-2 tablespoons honey (to taste), lemon juice (again, to taste) and a little hot water to dilute. It can be potent but the stronger it is, the faster it will work.
- Cinnamon is an effective antiviral and antibiotic (as well as anti-fungal and an anti-inflammatory). If you’re sick, try mixing 1 tablespoon of cinnamon with 1 teaspoon of honey and stir to make a spicy and very effective tea that helps relieve cough, congestion and can lower a fever.
Lastly, change your diet!
An easy way to remember this one is to stop eating white foods: At the first sign of illness, remove white foods from your diet. This includes grains, sugars (very importantly), milk, cheese, dairy, sweeteners, soda, etc. The days of cuddling on the couch with a box of tissues, blanket and tub of ice cream are no more! These foods suppress your immune system and slow down the body’s ability to heal. When you are sick, you don’t actually need to eat a lot of food, as the body needs spend more time and energy on healing, rather than digestion. The more energy your body uses to digest food, the less it has for the immune system. So eat healthy and light and fuel your body with exactly what it needs to have you back up and going in no time!
Sources: mindbodygreen, wellnessmama.com.