9 Natural Remedies to Get You Through the Sniffle Season
January 04, 2017
While it is an old wives tale that cold weather itself is responsible for your cold, it is true that many cold viruses do love the colder temperatures. Whilst you can catch the cold or flu at any time of year, higher numbers of cases of colds are seen from September to March; the flu is more seasonal, with most cases occurring between November and February - so right now, we're in the peak of cold and flu season.
The Common Cold
A cold usually starts with feeling just a bit unwell, and over the next two to three days you’ll develop sneezing, a stuffy nose, a sore throat, a slight fever, and a cough. Most colds last between five to seven days, but they can last up to two weeks.
All of these symptoms are due to your body’s reaction to the presence of the cold virus. The body produces inflammatory compounds including prostaglandins (which cause the fever) and histamine (which induces the sneezing). The presence of inflammation then results in an increase in mucus, which in turn causes the cough.
You develop immunity to each type of cold after you’ve had it: however, there are over 200 types of cold to work your way through in a lifetime!
Different cold viruses are spread in different ways: the largest group (making up about half of all cold viruses) is spread by direct contact, whereas the second largest group is spread by airborne droplets (i.e. from coughing and sneezing).
The influenza virus comes in three basic types: A, B & C. Each year the virus changes its genetic structure, and new strains emerge, which is why there is a different vaccine every year. The flu is spread through the air by droplets from the coughing and sneezing of infected people. You are contagious a day before symptoms start (usually within 2 days of exposure) and you are contagious for another five days after symptoms begin.
The flu comes on quite suddenly. It might start with a headache, and then within a few hours you’re feeling quite ill, with body aches, a fever, and exhaustion. By the end of the first day of illness you’ll have a horrible cough. Other possible symptoms include congestion, sneezing, nausea and sensitivity to light. You’ll be quite unwell for three-five days.
Cold vs Flu?
Colds and the flu are both infections that are sometimes hard to tell apart. Here are some generalizations between the two:
Tips to Avoid Colds and the Flu
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
This is one of your best defenses against getting sick.
Use the paper towel to open the door handle when leaving public rest rooms. According to a Michigan State study 95% of people don't wash their hands properly. In a larger, 100,000 people study, 62% of men and 40% of women admitted to not washing their hands at all after going to the rest room - ewwww!
Carry your own pen to sign receipts.
Cold viruses can last for hours on objects like pens, counter tops and handles.
Eating well, a good sleep pattern and a regular exercise routine does wonders for over all health and strengthening your natural defenses against getting sick.
Wearing a mask is a bit of an overkill for cold prevention – it would be more effective for those who have the cold to wear the masks, rather than those without.
Create a 'cold and flu kit' (see below) so you're stocked up and prepared if you feel cold or flu symptoms coming on.
9 Natural Remedies to Ease Cold and Flu Symptoms
As we all know, there is no cure for a cold (antibiotics won't clear up a viral infection), and whilst there are a number of over the counter options to reduce symptoms (anti-inflammatory meds, antihistamines and decongestants among them) here are some natural ways that may help ease those cold and flu symptoms.
- Drink lots of fluids, including water, hot tea and chicken soup (yes, this has been proven to be beneficial! - check out the University of Nebraska study here). Vegetable soup is just as good if you want to forgo meat. Load up with a range of veggies and include onions and garlic!
- If the air is dry, use a humidifier or vaporizer to lessen coughing and congestion.
- Try Fontus lozenges to relieve a dry throat and cough. These lozenges are free of menthol and eucalyptus (both common lozenge ingredients temporarily numb the throat but they can be vocal cord irritants). Fontus lozenges were designed by a Broadway performer who wanted a non-irritant, all-natural, plant-based lozenge so she's combined tart green apple extract and manuka honey with natural plant glycerin, aloe vera, orchid extract and ginseng to thin mucus and provide hydration for the throat. For more information on Fontus Lozenge ingredients click here.
- Cold sufferers with stuffy noses should start the day with a hot shower to loosen the mucus and use a steam inhaler before going to bed. Mythbuster: Drinking milk will not increase mucus production (unless you have an existing milk allergy)
- Dr Schacter in "The Good Doctor's Guide to Colds & Flu' advises using a saline nasal rinse 2-3 times a day to also help with congestion.
- Gargling a salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of salt dissolved in 1 cup of warm water) can help sore throats.
- Eat light meals for the first few days, especially warm easy meals such soups, light stews, scrambled eggs and porridge.
- Spicy foods help to clear the nasal passages: try adding Kaitaia Fire or Waha Wera hot sauce in your soup or stew.
- A Spoonful of Honey is both antibacterial (especially manuka honey) and what is known as a 'demulcent', which means it creates a protective coating on the throat that soothes irritation. Swallow a spoonful of honey directly, or add it to a cup of hot tea.
Getting some rest and avoiding sugar, processed foods and caffeine is also recommended for a quick recovery.
Quick and Easy Honey and Ginger Tea Recipe
This quick and easy honey and ginger tea is wonderful for cold and flu sufferers. It includes lemon (to help dissolve mucus), ginger (for its anti-inflammatory properties) and Belixir Manuka Drinking Honey MG83.
You will need:
- An inch of ginger root, thinly sliced
- Juice from half a lemon
- 1tsp to 1 tbsp manuka honey (depending on taste)
- A cup of hot water
- Zealong organic tea of your choice (black, green or oolong)
Stir the ginger, honey & lemon juice into a mug of hot water, and steep for 5 minutes. If you like, add your favorite Zealong tea bag.
Cold & Flu Preparedness
Create a Cold & Flu kit for the family or build a 'get well soon' gift basket with these essential items:
When symptoms begin, stock up on:
- Ginger root
- Fresh chicken or vegetable soup
“The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds & Flu”, by Neil Schachter, M.D.
“Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine”, Edited by Brent Bauer, M.D.
Ahmed, N., Sutcliffe, A., & Tipper, C. (2013). Feasibility Study: Honey for Treatment of Cough in Children. Pediatric Reports, 5(2), 31–34. http://doi.org/10.4081/pr.2013.e8
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is for general information purposes only and does not constitute, nor does it intend to constitute medical diagnosis or treatment or other professional advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regime.
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