When you’re healthy, home remedies are the last thing on your mind. But when winter comes, the freezing temperatures and winds do not only mean snow and thick jackets. It also means irritating colds and frustrating flu that can hit you quickly. How can you enjoy the cold season if some form of cold-related sickness is bothering you? Check out the post below for some home remedies that can keep you healthy during cold and flu season.
Cold and Flu Home Remedies
When you’re under the weather, you will not be able to savor the cool breeze outside nor will you be able to appreciate the delectable foods served during the season; you also have to think about the additional expenses that you have to spend for medicines. As survivalists and outdoorsmen, we’re not made to stay in bed all day. We like to be healthy, strong, active and ready for whatever might happen next.
But even if you do get sick, you don’t have to go to the hospital or take over-the-counter or prescription drugs. There are home remedies that you can use to make you feel better when you come down with an illness, or even prevent an illness before it starts. Here are some home remedies that you can try to alleviate or prevent winter cold and flu.
Remedy #1: Lemon
The lovely lemon may cause a puckered face if eaten raw, but in a hot beverage, lemons will have you smiling. Hot lemonade has been used as a flu remedy since Roman times and is still highly regarded in the folk traditions of New England. Lemons, being highly acidic, help make mucous membranes distasteful to bacteria and viruses. Lemon oil, which gives the juice its fragrance, is like a wonder drug containing antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory constituents. The oil also acts as an expectorant. To make this flu-fighting fruit drink, place 1 chopped lemon — skin, pulp, and all — into 1 cup boiling water. While the lemon steeps for 5 minutes, inhale the steam. Strain, add honey (to taste), and enjoy. Drink hot lemonade three to four times a day throughout your illness.
Remedy #2: Milk and Turmeric
Besides ginger tea or masala chai, warm milk and turmeric mixture is a popular and effective way to fight a cough. This mixture is applicable for children and adults too. Turmeric and milk are also healthy ingredients needed for healthy living.
Remedy #3: Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent, producing 200 to 300 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. In the United States, the late winter average vitamin D level is only about 15-18 ng/ml, which is considered a very serious deficiency state. It’s estimated that over 95 percent of U.S. senior citizens may be deficient, along with 85 percent of the American public.
Remedy #4: The Pillow Prop
Make gravity work in your favor to help ease nasal pressure. “Raising your head when congested helps to drain sinus passages,” says Schachter. Using an additional pillow or two to lift your upper body can keep things moving in the right direction.
Remedy #5: Orange Juice
Do you crave orange juice when you’re sick? It’s full of vitamin C, which may help shorten a cold’s duration of and work as a natural decongestant. Aim for 500 mg of vitamin C four times a day. A cup of OJ has 124 mg. Other good sources of vitamin C include strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli.
Remedy #6: Ginger Tea
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.
Remedy #7: Peppermint
Peppermint is a valuable expectorant* in the treatment of bronchitis, colds and flu. It reduces fevers by inducing sweating and cooling the body. It is also a painkiller for headaches and some migraines. It is a soothing decongestant and makes an effective inhalation for clearing blocked sinuses.
Remedy #8: Camphor, Eucalyptus and Menthol
Camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol are often combined in ointments and medicines. Camphor is often used in topical pain relievers and muscle ache creams. Eucalyptus leaf or oil is used both as a food flavoring and in many medicinal applications. Eucalyptus is used to treat breathing problems, pain and inflammation, burns and ulcers, and even cancer. Menthol can be used as flavoring in lozenges for sore throats and coughs or as a soothing ingredient in anti-itch creams and medications for the mouth. The three are often combined in over-the-counter ointments used for nasal congestion and cough suppression (NIH, 2012).
Remedy #9: Spice Up Your Cooking
Go with your instincts here – any flavour that provokes a reaction deep in your chest is one that could (according to the wives of yore) be used to shift a nasty cold or flu. Add chillies, cayenne pepper, ginger, cloves and horseradish liberally to anything you rustle up. Why eat a turkey and tomato sandwich when you could sprinkle on some chillies and cloves to beat the flu while eating? For more palatable options, try boiling water with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and cloves (add whiskey or bourbon if you’re at the tail end of your flu and having trouble getting to sleep). You could also mix together cider vinegar, honey, cayenne pepper and ginger into a cough syrup. Finally, homemade chicken soup (preferably cooked with love by your mother) is the perfect treatment for ailments of both body and soul.
Remedy #10: Garlic
A powerhouse natural antibiotic, anti fungal, and antibacterial, garlic can tackle almost any illness. For the most potent effect, finely mince 1-2 cloves or garlic and float in a small glass of water. Drink quickly- if you are sick enough, you won’t even notice the taste. Note: Pregnant women should not take more than 1 clove of garlic medicinally per day, and children often resist this remedy.
Remedy #11: Green Tea
Green tea is known to have many properties that can help keep you in tip-top health – and therefore better prepared to ward off cold and flu bugs. The jury is out on how many cups of tea are optimal, but 2-3 per day are often recommended. If you do come down with cold or flu symptoms (or feel them coming on), consider 3-4 cups of green tea per day to expedite ridding your body of those nasty bugs and give your body’s defenses an extra jolt.
Remedy #12: Echinacea (Goldenseal)
Echinacea (E. angustifolia, purpurea and pallida) is the best-researched herb for enhancing immune defenses to help prevent respiratory tract infections. Several well designed studies support the use of this herb for the treatment of acute viral upper respiratory infections. Though a controversial 2005 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that extracts of the E. angustifolia root didn’t significantly affect viral infections, the American Botanical Council noted the dosage used in the study was lower than the amount recommended by the World Health Organization, as well as the Canadian Natural Health Products Directorate. Two more recent meta-analyses concluded that echinacea did reduce the duration and incidence of the common cold.
Remedy #13: Gargle
Gargling can moisten a sore throat and bring temporary relief. Try a teaspoon of salt dissolved in warm water, four times daily. To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle, such as tea,which contains tannins, to tighten the membranes. Or use a thick, viscous gargle made with honey, sage and cayenne pepper all of which are slightly antiseptic. Steep fresh sage leaves with the cayenne in 100 ml of just boiled water for 10 minutes. Add about 50 ml of honey; you can also add a pinch of salt and some cider vinegar to help loosen phlegm. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before gargling.
Remedy #14: Chicken Soup
Chicken soup is a time-honoured remedy that is tried, tested and true. Chicken soup stops certain white blood cells (neutrophils) from congregating and causing inflammation, preventing large amounts of mucus from being produced. The hot soup also thins the mucus. Adding freshly chopped garlic to your soup gives the system a powerful boost. While garlic kills germs outright, it also appears to stimulate the release of natural killer cells, which are part of the immune system’s arsenal of germ-fighters. Spike your soup with red (chili) pepper flakes to increase the broth’s decongestant power.
Remedy #15: Honey
A hacking cough can keep you and every other household member up all night. Keep the peace with honey. Honey has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for coughs. It’s a simple enough recipe: Mix 1 tablespoon honey into 1 cup hot water, stir well, and enjoy. Honey acts as a natural expectorant, promoting the flow of mucus. Squeeze some lemon in if you want a little tartness.
Remedy #16: Mushrooms
No, not the kind favored by Harold and Kumar. White button mushrooms (90 percent of the ‘shrooms eaten in the United States) have powerful immunity-boosting effects, according to two studies from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. These fabulous fungi increase the production of antiviral proteins that can destroy or deactivate the foreign invaders that make you sick.
Remedy #17: Oatmeal
Whole grains, like oatmeal, contain selenium, zinc, and beta glucan to help support your immune system and fend off cold and flu infections. Add a generous dollop of yogurt — its probiotics may help keep a virus from settling into your respiratory system.
Remedy #18: Humidify Your Home
Ever wonder why the flu tends to strike in the colder months? Part of the reason is your furnace. Artificial heat lowers humidity, creating an environment that allows the influenza virus to thrive. (Colder outside air also pushes people together in confined indoor spaces, making it easier for the flu bug to spread). Adding some moisture to the air in your home during the winter with a warm- or cool-mist humidifier may not only help prevent the spread of flu, it may also make you feel more comfortable if you do get it.
Remedy #19: Make a Tent
Need a quick way to open clogged airways? Bring a pot of water to a boil and remove it from the heat. Drape a towel over your head, close your eyes, and lean over the water under the “tent,” breathing deeply through your nose for 30 seconds. David Kiefer, MD, clinical instructor of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, recommends adding a drop or two of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to the water for extra phlegm-busting power. Repeat this as often as necessary to ease congestion.
Remedy #20: Moisten Your Brow
A change in temperature can work wonders for an aching head, and it’s best to choose the temperature that most appeals to your body. If you’re cold and shivering then soak a compress (that’s a flannel or towel, to non-nurses) in hot water and hold it to your temple. A bag of frozen peas works well for those who are burning up.
Remedy #21: Oil of Oregano
I wish I could remember who hipped me to oil of oregano, but this stuff has been great for me this flu season. Oil of oregano is rich in vitamins and minerals and is said to reduce pain and inflammation.
The second you start feeling run down, you’ll want to pop oil of oregano pills twice a day between meals. I normally get a couple of bad illnesses during the winter, and this time around I managed to kick the sick in just a few days, rather than battling symptoms for a week.
Remedy #22: No Junk Food
When you have a cold or flu your body is under a lot of stress, fighting the viral infection. Big, heavy meals take vital energy to digest, resources which your body could be using to fight the infections.
An old saying states “Feed a cold and starve a fever.”
A better saying is “Starve a cold and starve a fever.”
The best thing to do is drink plenty of liquids – water, fruit juices and soups, but stay away from heavy and highly processed food. High liquid intake is important as the body uses water to carry waste products and toxins to your elimination systems.
Remedy #23: Rinse Out Your Nose
A homemade nose-clearing method that goes beyond the humble tissue may be a little involved, but if you’re nasally-blocked and don’t want to step outside then you can try clearing your nose with a salt and baking soda mixture. Mix a teaspoon of salt and baking soda with a glass of water and squirt the mixture up your nose – though you need a syringe and pickling / canning salt (not simple table salt) to do this effectively. It’s important not to double dip the syringe and there are further instructions here – homemade nasal irrigation won’t appeal to everyone but should work for true homemade-remedy fans.
Remedy #24: American Ginseng Root
North American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) has long been used for its medicinal properties. This herb has different effects from its Siberian and Asian cousins. American ginseng has been traditionally used for a wide variety of ailments. In addition to treating cold and flu, this form of ginseng is used in an effort to relieve stress, improve digestion, boost the immune system, enhance memory, battle HIV/AIDS and cancer, manage diabetes, and even prevent signs of aging. The root can be used to make powdered supplements or oils and extracts (which can be added to food or drinks).
Remedy #25: Rest and Hydrate
Take Mom’s advice: Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids, Dr. Czaja advises. “Drinking water helps thin mucus secretions in the lungs.”
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