It’s that time of year again. Your diary is getting filled with parties and socialising in the run up to the festive season and your daily commute is shared with heaps of sneezing people crowded together in hot, stuffy public transport. It’s unsurprising that we often come down with head colds burning the candle at both ends.
While hiding under the covers may be tempting, most of us need to soldier on through.
To help you out, here’s our holistic approach to helping you stay healthy when the first symptoms strike:
8 natural cold remedies to help you feel better
No. 1 – Hop in a Steam Shower
This is really useful if you are getting the feeling that you’re coming down with a head cold. Increasing your internal body temperature may help fight off unwanted viral or bacterial infections faster.
If you already have stuffed up sinuses, an achy head and the general feeling of being unwell; throw yourself into that hot steamy shower when you wake up or before bed. The mist and humidity can really help to loosen the mucus and clear your sinuses so you can breathe easier.
Simply run the shower for a few minutes to generate some steam and then add a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oilinto the corner of the shower. As you’re showering make sure to take deep inhalations. Soon you should feel your nasal passages open up and your head clearing.
Alternatively for this head cold remedy you can place your head over a bowl of hot steamy water with 3-5 drops of Eucalyptus oil in and a towel over your head to trap in the steam.
Inhale deeply for 5 – 10 minutes.
No. 2 – Oil of Oregano
This is my go to cold remedy if I’m getting sick, or I am around people who are (oh the joys of public transport!).
Made from wild oregano plants, oil of oregano contains two compounds called carvacrol and thymo. These two compounds have antifungal, antiseptic, antibacterial, antiparasitic and antiviral properties, making Oregano oil absolutely fantastic at preventing and conquering colds, flus, viruses and infections.
Oregano oil comes in liquid form or as capsules/tablets. I would highly recommend P73-Oreganol Oil of Oregano as your go to guy.
It is very potent so only a small amount is needed. Taken on the first sign of symptoms, this powerful remedy will help knock anything unpleasant on the head that’s trying to invade your system.
Should you already be suffering with a head cold, a couple of drops taken at intervals throughout the day should help shorten the duration and ease the symptoms.
No. 3 – Spoon in some Manuka Honey for a headcold
Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the native Manuka bush.
Manuka honey has many uses, but it is most famously known for its ability to help promote a healthy immune system.
It is simply loaded with minerals, enzymes and antioxidants, and is fantastic defence against colds when used daily during the winter. It’s also a great treatment for coughs and sore, dry or irritated throats if you were not able to escape a chill.
How is manuka honey so effective? For a more detailed answer, see my blog What’s the scoop on: Manuka Honey For a shorter answer, it’s down to manuka honey’s high anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. They fight the bacteria and viruses trying to attack your immune system.
This honey can be eaten like ordinary honey, such as mixing it into warm water with lemon (not boiling or this will kill off the active properties), added to smoothies, mixed through porridge, on toast or even taken off the spoon.
If Manuka honey is too much on the pricey side, opt for RAW honey instead.
Raw honey has not been heat treated/pasteurised like commercial honeys. Pasteurisation removes the beneficial enzymes, vitamins and health properties in honey – basically all the beneficial bits you want!
Use raw honey the same way but Manuka Honey really does have the edge when it comes to immune system support.
No. 4 – Drink Ginger Tea
Ginger helps to bring down inflammation, clear congestion and support the immune system, and is great to soothe sore throats too. Aim to drink two to three cups of fresh (or bagged) ginger tea daily.
Easy to make, simply infuse about 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger root in a cup of hot water for anything from 5-15 minutes, depending how strong you like it. Feel free to add lemon and/or honey, or even mixing peppermint and ginger together for a welcome alternative.
Optionally, try ginger tea in bags if you’re in the need for more convenience. Pukka’s 3 Ginger is my all-time favourite.
No. 5 – Increase your Vitamin C
Vitamin C has long been known to support the immune system and help fight off colds. Up your intake of fruits and veggies high in Vitamin C, including oranges, kiwis, peppers, strawberries, dark leafy greens, papaya, broccoli and Brussels sprouts to help keep those nasty bugs at bay.
And if you’ve got the feeling you’re coming down with a cold or virus, go straight for your Vitamin C supplements.
Study after study has proven the effectiveness of Vitamin C in high dosages for prevention and relief of cold and flu symptoms.
Taking between 1000mg – 2000mg of Vitamin C every day could help to shorten the duration and lessen the symptoms and severity of a cold or flu, especially if you ensure to keep blood levels of Vitamin C high until the cold of flu has gone.
This means taking 2000mg immediately when you get the first sign of any symptoms and then 1000mg every hour until the cold has gone (usually within 24 hours and often within 12).
And don’t worry; Vitamin C is water soluble so you can’t overdose on it.
Please be aware of your bowel tolerance when it comes to supplementing large doses of Vitamin C as it can cause loose bowels in some individuals.
No. 6 – Increase your Zinc
Zinc is great at helping to fight infection, and if taken within the first 24hours from the first sign of symptoms, it has been shown to significantly reduce both the symptoms and severity of the common cold.
For optimum anti-viral effects, 50mg in the first 24 hours of symptoms can be highly effective at banishing or drastically shortening that cold or flu.
Please note, taking high levels of zinc on a constant daily basis can actually diminish your immune system and deplete your copper levels. This recommendation is for use during the first 24 hours of symptoms only.
No. 6 – Stay Hydrated to help a head cold
A fully hydrated body means your cells are hydrated. When you’re dehydrated, your immune system can suffer, making you more susceptible to any colds going around.
If you’re fighting off an illness, hydration is crucial. Not only do you tend to sweat a lot more when you’re sick, but you also accumulate a lot more mucus in your nose and throat as your body fights the infection.
Keeping yourself hydrated can help wash away this accumulated mucus and flush out toxins and waste products from your body, helping your recovery.
An adult requires roughly 1.5 litres of water a day on average, although depending on your activity levels, you may require more.
It’s good to note that caffeine and alcohol are hugely dehydrating, and are also not great for your immune system. They deplete it and can cause stress on your adrenal glands which ultimately affects your:
• Stress levels
• Blood sugar levels
• Energy levels
Don’t fret over a glass of wine every now and again, or a cup of coffee here and there. It’s best to avoid them to keep your immune system as strong as possible during the cold and flu seasons.
No. 7 – Eat Clean and Light while you have a head cold
If you’re under the shackles of a nasty cold or flu, eating a clean and light diet through its duration will be a huge help.
The more energy your body uses to digest food, the less it has for the immune system, so think steamy soups, warming teas, fresh fruits and lots and lots of veggies.
Good foods to incorporate daily (whether you have a cold or are trying to prevent one)include foods rich in vitamins A, C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc, such as citrus fruit, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, dark blue and red berries, mangoes, apricots, kiwis, apples, kale, red onions, beetroot.
These all support the immune system thanks to their abundance of nutrients in the form of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, phytochemicals, fibre etc.
And don’t forget to include fresh garlic, turmeric and mushrooms, especially shitaketo your diet. These foods are great for your immune system, so get peeling that garlic, chopping those shrooms and whizzing up a delicious turmeric latte.
I would also advise that you go easy on your sugar and dairy intake, and if possible cut them out entirely, at least for the duration of your sickness. Both sugar and dairy are well known for being highly inflammatory, which in cold and flu terms means a lot more mucus (aka snot!) to deal with!
No. 8 – Get plenty of sleep
You can consume all the kale, quinoa and green smoothies you like, but if you don’t get a good quality night’s sleep you’re almost certainly going to catch whatever’s going around.
It’s a fact that not getting enough sleep can interfere drastically with your immune function and actually multiply your chances of getting sick. Yikes!
To support a healthy immune system, ensure you get roughly 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
Your body needs at least seven hours of shut-eye to fend off a sickness, minimum.
If you’re struggling to sleep because of a stuffy nose, add an extra pillow to raise your head higher. This helps the sinuses drain to keep your nasal passages open and clear. Also don’t forget to add a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil to further open your nasal passages, and a drop or two of lavender to help you nod off.
These are our top natural cold remedies, if you think you are coming down with something call into one of our shops we’d be happy to advise you.
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*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication