At the moment, I am battling the worst cold I’ve had in years. Yes, it is so bad that I have dragged myself out of bed to work, hoping that it will distract me from the constant sneezing, headache, and a nose that feels like it should be tied off. Work will save me, right?
In this case, yes! Because as fate would have it, I’ve been tasked to research homemade cold and flu remedies. The fact that fate also reduced my New Year’s Eve celebration to being shaken awake at midnight by my boyfriend to learn 2010 had arrived is beside the point. Who doesn’t want to celebrate amidst a pile of Puffs with lotion? After all, a bad cold on New Year’s Day means a year of good luck, right? So here are some effective cold remedies in easy steps:
1) Rinse Your Sinuses
This is one of the all-time top recommendations for fixing your head during a cold. First, you need a neti pot. I was plagued by chronic sinus infections for years until I made the neti pot a daily part of my existence. (This allows you to rinse saline water through your nose.) I’ve been cold/flu/infection free for nearly two years, until this current crisis of nose, but that’s not a bad run.
A note on preparation: Never use regular water, as your cells like salt much better. When you mix up your saline solution, make sure it is at room temperature. Coldwater will hurt. Add just half a teaspoon of salt to water – water that is too salty will also hurt. You can add baking soda to soften it up, and some recommend five drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract for an antibiotic effect. Make sure your water is filtered, as the last thing you want to put up your nose is more bad things.
Working the Neti: Make sure you tilt your head so the water runs through your nasal passages, not up into them. If you directly pour the water up to your nose, you will feel something that might be akin to waterboarding. And this might make you throw down your neti pot forever and curse the day you ever read this article. Also, make sure you blow out the water after each “nostril dunking.” You want the water to run through your sinus passages, not straight up in the membranes with all the bacteria that is causing the problem.
And if you haven’t invested in a neti pot? You can even inhale or “snort” the same solution up your nose. This will hurt, but it will hydrate your sinuses passages. And finally, you can always take a steamy shower
2) Sooth Your Cough with Ginger Tea
A steaming cup of tea will keep you hydrated and just make you feel better. And as the doctors will tell you (this is me putting my doctor coat on between sneezes), hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, help prevent dehydration, and can soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat.
This particular recipe from health expert Kim Goddard uses garlic as a broad-spectrum antibiotic (and honey to mask its taste).
1-inch ginger root
½ sliced lemon, peel and all
1 clove garlic, mashed
2 cups of water
One spoonful honey
Place water, ginger, lemon, and garlic in a saucepan. Bring it to boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 20 min. Strain into mugs and add lots of honey. The tea will get stronger if you let it sit
3) Boost Your Immune System with Cranberry Fruit Mash
This recipe will help you sooth and hasten your cold while providing a good source of vitamins C and B. It combines dark-colored fruits that are high in antioxidants. Plus, it is delicious.
1 bag cranberries (or two cans of low sugar cranberry sauce)
½ cup blueberries
½ cup raspberries
1 ½ cup of water
½ cup of sugar
1 teaspoon ginger extract
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer for 13 minutes, careful to stir the sauce at times. Cool and refrigerate. You can eat this whole as a sauce or combine it with
4) Nurture Your Nose with a Bag ‘o Peas
Remember back in the old days of the start of this article, when I mentioned that I was sick as a dog? Yes, still sick. And I just ran across a suggestion to take hot or cold compresses to your sinuses. Because I am as desperate as a snowman in July, I stumbled to my freezer and pulled out a bag of frozen peas. (Natch, USDA organic.)
And so, I gingerly balanced the bag of peas on the bridge of my nose. It hurt a bit. But then a miracle happened – two minutes later I could actually feel my sinuses clearing up. I’m now wondering if I can sleep with the peas attached to my face – do they make pea slings?
5) Ease Congestion with Hot Chicken Soup
Sure, it’s the old school remedy. But it turns out that hot chicken soup is actually a potent mucus stimulant. Yeah, gross, but when you’re sleeping in a bed filled with soggy tissues, trust me, you won’t care. You can also load up with pepper, garlic, hot curry powder, or other spices that help to thin mucus in the mouth, throat, and lungs.
Further, studies show that hot chicken soup improves the function of cilia, the tiny hair-like projections in the nasal passages that protect the body from foreign bacteria and viruses. Steaming chicken soup may also improve the motion of disease-fighting white blood cells.