So you’re sick. It happens to all of us from time to time. Most of us get a cold or two each year. Maybe we get laid up in bed for a couple days, or maybe we have a cold that lingers like a friend who’s overstaying their welcome on your couch. Whatever the case, we know that having a cold and flu basically sucks. We have low to no energy, miss out on work, the gym, and everything in our day to day that usually leaves us filled with energy, fulfillment, and the drive we need to pursue our goals. That can be discouraging, and it’s hard to get back on track.
We want to get over sickness as fast as possible and limit the symptoms. So where do most of us turn? The drug aisle and the pharmacy, usually. But hang on a second, because that’s not always the healthiest, most cost-effective, or efficient way to knock out whatever you’re battling. There are some great all-natural remedies that’ve been around for decades, and some general best-practices for handling the sick bug, and they don’t involve going to the pharmacy at all.
These are all tried-and-true methods for easing discomfort and speeding recovery, and most of them can be created with ingredients that are already in your home.
1. Liquids, liquids, liquids.
Colds and flues wage a war inside your body that can leave you with headaches, aches, pains, and dehydration. According to this recent New York Times article, liquids and upright sitting position are the most important counterattacks when you’ve come down with the illness, recommending a cup or so of liquid per hour. That’s why liquids in general, even plain water, are first on this list—they are so important when you’re sick. Don’t skimp!
It’s also recommended that you avoid alcohol and caffeine . . . which I know can be difficult for your coffee-fiends out there. If you do need your daily dose of caffeine, try to drink a small cup or see if you can get by with a cup of green tea, which has less caffeine than coffee. The next two numbers on this list are some of my favorite beverage-based remedies.
2. Cayenne Toddy
If you’re looking for something that will boost your immune system, raise your body temperature, clear your sinuses, and soothe your throat, look no further than this cayenne toddy recipe. All you do is plop the following ingredients together in a mug, add boiling water, and stir to mix:
– ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
– 1 tbsp organic, raw honey (local, if you can get it)
– ¼ tsp cayenne powder (start here, and increase the amount of cayenne if you can handle it!)
– lemon wedge, squeezed
That’s it! Just smelling this toddy will help to unblock your sinuses, and the heat of the drink combined with the spice will help maintain a higher body temperature so that your immune system is supported. Cayenne is rich in detoxifying properties so if you start sweating it’s a good thing! The honey will soothe your throat, and apple cider vinegar is effective in creating a more alkaline environment in your body, which will help your body kill the ick faster. These ingredients combined create a powerhouse cocktail that will help your body purify itself even faster.
3. Hug in a Mug
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ve probably heard me talk about this one, and that’s because it’s so awesome! And if you can’t handle the spice of the cayenne toddy this is a great alternative. Plus, the stomach-soothing power of ginger is really effective if you’re dealing with any nausea at all.
Hug in a Mug Tea
- 2 cups water
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 organic lemon, cut in half and juiced
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- In a small pot over medium heat, combine your water, ginger, lemon and honey
- Simmer for 5-10 minutes and then strain into a jar
4. Flu Bomb
Cinnamon is an amazing spice for when you’re under the weather—it’s an antioxidant, it’s anti-inflammatory, and it’s anti-bacterial. Add honey to the mix because it’s excellent for soothing throats and suppressing coughs, and you’ve got two amazing ingredients that complement each other. Mix them together for an effective flu/cold bomb! Just stir a teaspoon of honey with a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon and eat it. Bomb’s away!
- Combine the cinnamon with your raw honey and consume twice a day until symptoms subside.
5. Rinse Your Nose
When you have a bad cold or flu, one of the most irritating symptoms can be blocked nasal passageways. You sound like you have cotton balls in there, and you become an open-mouth breather. And then all of that congestion only makes your headache worse. ne way to soothe these symptoms is to use a neti pot. They look like a genie’s lamp, and you can find them in most drugstores now, though they’ve traditionally been used by Indian yogis. All you do is blend a saline solution in the pot and then pour it into your nose. It flows out the other side, carrying out bacteria, allergens, and other nasty stuff with it. Sounds kind of gross, but a neti pot is a great way to breathe cleaner during a cold or flu. And if you have seasonal allergies, a neti pot can help with those as well by rinsing the pollen out of your nasal passageways.
6.The Stinky Stuff
I’m talking about garlic, actually. It’s been shown to be effective for preventing and shortening the time of colds and flus by boosting the immune system. This is in thanks to a compound called alliin in garlic, which boosts white blood cell response to viruses through a series of chemical reactions. You can mince a clove and add to a mug of water and drink it for a butt-kicking tonic. You can also make a stronger solution of six pressed cloves in a glass of water and gargle with it a few times a day for three days. You’ll notice a difference, trust me!
7. Get Steamy
Another great way to clear and soothe sinuses is by just breathing in steam! A great way to do this is to boil a cocktail of herbs in a pot (try rosemary and thyme for example). You can also use a bit of white vinegar—a quarter cup or so. Put a towel over your head to hold in the heat, lean over the pot, and breathe for 10 – 15 minutes. The steam will help kill off any bacteria that’s in your nasal passages and lungs, and will loosen congestion too.
8. Have a Bath
I should probably have mentioned that this list isn’t in any particular order. So, you know, this could very well be your first step to feeling better—listen to your body! This list is a kind of arsenal, not a step-by-step. Okay, with that out of the way . . . baths.
Detoxifying the body with a hot, natural bath is a great way to decongest, decompress, and soothe aches and pains. Plus, if you do this right before you go to bed you’ll sleep wonderfully, I promise. Just mix in about ¼ cup of sea salt, epsom salt, baking soda, and Apple Cider Vinegar. I like to throw in about ten drops of essential oils as well. Peppermint oil is a great choice here (which you can find over on Thrive Market, for example) because it will help open up your sinuses even more.
9. Zinc a Day Away
The use of Zinc lozenges can be wonderfully effective in treating colds, shortening their duration by a day, possibly more. It’s recommended to begin taking lozenges at the first sign of a cold, and then following the instructions on the bottle (you can’t pop these things like candy). Again, our friends over at Thrive Market have some awesome options.
10. Stretch it Out
This might be one of the coolest treatments for colds and flus because you already have everything you need for it! One of the worst parts of having a cold or a flu is the tension it causes in the body. You’re lying around a lot and generally not moving very much, and there’s not a lot of blood flow going on. One of the best things you can do is to do some gentle stretching to help move white bloods cells around and to stimulate circulation in your body. Plus, your muscles are probably going to be sore from sleeping so much, and it will feel good to get up and stretch them out a bit, even if it’s just for five or ten minutes. Of course, you should always listen to your body, but if you think you can get up for a quick forward bend or another pose, it’s worth it.
Here’s a great article with seven different yoga poses that specifically target colds and flus.
With all of these great all-natural remedies on hand, who needs syrupy drugs and side effects? Momma Nature has us covered, and if you implement just a few of these treatments I bet you’ll be feeling more energized, healthful, and clean after your cold or flu passes. I hope that you get back on your feet as soon as possible!
Any natural remedies that I should include on the next list? Ping me in the comments section!