Oh yes…fall is definitely in the air. Kids are back to school, fall festivals abound and cold and flu germs patiently await. The cold and flu season comes around every year. Everyone hates it. But for some reason it returns year after year. Despite having a medical background, I usually try natural cold remedies before I forge through the traditional route. Blame it on my Caribbean ancestry. Blame it on a “stubborn” gene. It remains true though, that traditional and homeopathic methods can have quite a symbiotic relationship. You don’t always have to pick one over the other.
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Pregnant and nursing mothers, young children and people on other prescription medications are ideal candidates for natural or non-drug cold remedies. But, we can all benefit from learning more about what nature has to offer.
Here are some tried and true natural cold remedies that really work.
Vicks Vapor Rub
I have many memories of my mom “rubbing me down” with Vicks Vapor Rub when I was a little kid. To be honest with you. I hated it. It smelt icky. It felt greasy. But, it always worked to help clear up my congestion. These days, Vicks has a greaseless cream formula and the menthol in those varieties is not as overpowering. But purists will advise that the original Vicks Vapor Rub still has a place. I secretly laughed to myself when my daughter exclaimed recently as I was applying some Vicks on her chest, “Only a little bit mama…it smells nasty!” What a full circle moment!
Shiling oil actually has many uses. Some of which coincide with those of Vicks Vapor Rub. As far as the cold and flu goes, use shiling oil for congestion and body aches that can come with the flu. Just rub it in. You can get it at Amazon.com but, if I am ever running low I always get one of my Caribbean peeps to bring me a few bottles. I don’t know why. Maybe, it just feels a little bit more authentic to me that way.
Honey and Lime/Lemon
Mix a couple tablespoons of honey with a few squeezes of lemon in about a 1:1 ratio, and you have a powerful elixir. The honey acts as a natural soother for itchy throats and even has an ingredient that helps to calm coughs, medicine free! Since there is not much out there to treat little ones under age six, this is a great alternative. Just remember, that honey should not be ingested by children under 1. As far as the lemon in this elixir goes…it’s a great boost of vitamin C. Some studies have shown however, that vitamin C may not have all of the “mythical cold potency”, that people once thought. Just don’t tell my mother or mother in law that. But seriously, I will continue to increase my vitamin C uptake every time the cold lures it’s ugly head.
Humidifiers are great devices to use during the cold and flu season whether you have a cold or not. Every wonder why you may be more prone cold germs on an air plane? Not only do you have the privilege of being in a crammed space, sharing the same recycled air with hundreds of strangers but, studies have shown that people with dry nostrils are more prone to colds and other germy invaders. If you already have a cold, using a humidifier is a great way add moisture and help ease congestion. Some vaporizers have the added option of being able to add menthol to the steam for dual benefit.
Nasal saline works like a charm in helping to relieve nasal congestion. From little noses to big honkers the premise is the same. Nasal saline goes in…yucky mucous comes out. It is simple osmosis really… but, it works like a charm.
Nasal irrigation as seen in the Neti Pot as been praised for years for ailments like allergies. The benefits of nasal irrigation don’t stop there. Use it to thin out mucous and relieve sinus pressure that can occur during the common cold.
Products that contain zinc like Zicam and Cold Eeze make it easy for consumers to take zinc “on the go”. Zinc has been shown to limit the duration and severity of the common cold. Take it as soon as the first symptoms appear for optimal results.
Warm Saline Gargle
Every time I had a sore throat growing up, my mom would send me to the kitchen for a few things: a cup of warm water, a spoon and some salt. To relieve discomfort from sore and itchy throats, place about 1 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle. That’s it! The warm water should be as warm as you can tolerate. For optimal results, gargle about every 2 hours. It’s tedious…I know. But it works!
Breathe Right Strips
Obviously this natural cold remedy is not as old as the others on the list. Regardless of it’s inception, nasal strips can provide drug free relieve to stuffy noses everywhere! Just be sure to get the right size for your nose.
I have heard of several more natural remedies that alleviate symptoms of the common cold. They involve everything from garlic to cayenne pepper, from coconut oil to hydrogen peroxide… Many have been passed from generation to generation, from continents to islands, from playgrounds to play dates and everywhere in between. For some people, natural cold remedies are more than a “passing fad”, they are tradition. But at the end of the day, when nostrils are clogged, throats burn and a persistent cough make it feel like your head will explode…people just want to know… Do natural cold remedies work? And these do.
So, what natural cold remedies have you used? Which ones are your favorite?
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