No matter how healthy of a lifestyle you lead, sooner or later you’re going to come down with a cold like I did last week. Complete with a scratchy throat, runny, stuffed up nose, a cough, sneezing and that tired, achy feeling, a cold is never fun. Many of the cough and cold medicines on the market are loaded with sugars, food colorant and medicinal ingredients that are often minimally effective. So what are some safe and effective ways to deal with a cold? Well, unfortunately there’s no magic cure for the common cold, so expect to not be 100% for a couple of days at least. However, there are many things you can do to alleviate symptoms, make yourself more comfortable and shorten the duration of a cold once it strikes.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but often times if you’ve caught a cold it’s because your body was already down and susceptible to germs floating around in the environment. It might be tempting to plough through with your schedule when you’re sick, but doing so will only prolong your illness and potentially spread the cold to others. If at all possible, get as much rest as you can- and not just physical rest either. Try to shut out mental stress as well. You may want to turn your phone off, mediate, and make a list of things that are stressing you out and tell yourself that you’re going to set it aside for now and deal with it later. If you find your body is getting stiff, do some gentle stretching, but don’t overexert yourself.
You may have heard the old adage “drink lots of fluids” when you have a cold. It’s especially important to hydrate when you’re sick. All that water will thin out the mucus, which will help to alleviate a cough and lessen phlegm.
Cold water may further irritate a sore throat, and can also exacerbate a cough. What you can do is heat some water and fill a litre thermos (dilute with cold water if it’s too hot to drink right away). Sip on it all day long. You can also add an herbal tea bag for flavour and extra healing benefits. Look for soothing ingredients such as licorice, lemon, and fennel. A favourite of mine is Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals.
If you have a cold, your body is already in depleted state. Prepare a whole food soup or make a yummy smoothie filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. Go for ingredients like turmeric, ginger, mint and pineapple- which contains anti-inflammatory bromelain. Probiotic kefir can also be added to smoothies, which will soothe your gut and promote healing. Omega 3 rich foods such as salmon, chia seeds, and hemp heart will also help reduce inflammation and give your immune system a boost.
Honey has been shown to be as effective as over-the-counter medicines for alleviating a cough. Raw, natural honey has antimicrobial benefits and can also soothe a sore throat. Take a couple of teaspoons of honey on it’s own, or add to an herbal tea.
Natural vapour rub
To ease cough and congestion you can make an all natural, petroleum free vapour rub. I made mine with the ingredients below, but feel free to play around with ingredients.
⅛ cup coconut oil
⅛ cup grapeseed oil
3 tbsp of beeswax pellets
5-10 drops each of rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus and lavender essential oils.
Heat the oils and wax pellets together in a saucepan until melted. Let the mixture cool down a bit before adding your essential oils. Give it a stir and pour into a glass jar. The wax will cause everything to solidify, making a nice thick balm that you can rub onto your chest or back. You can also diffuse essential oils to help make breathing a little easier.