The weather her in Los Angeles has been all over the place. We had an unbearable heat wave, followed by very cool temps, followed by rain, and now we are back to 80 and 90 degree days. The drastic swings in temperature coupled with the change of seasons make for the ideal conditions for catching a cold. I am currently fighting one as we speak. I woke up with what I thought were allergies, and as the day progressed it became clear that a cold was trying to take hold. But my defense game is tight, so that cold better watch it’s back is all I’m saying. Anyhoo, with cold and flu season gearing up, I thought I would share my favorite ways to stop a cold before it can really take hold.
Natural Cold Remedies
Zinc is one of the best ways to fight a cold as long as you start right when you begin to feel symptoms. It has been shown in studies to reduce the duration of a cold if taken within 24 hours of the first symptoms. It has been shown to inhibit the rhinovirus which is the virus that causes the common cold. Studies have shown that it stops the virus from multiplying. It has also been shown in studies to work best in lozenge or syrup form. This is because rhinovirus lives in the mucus membranes of the nose and throat, and lozenges and syrup come in direct contact with the virus as opposed to supplements which do not. I always start zinc lozenges at the very first throat tickle, and I have found it to be incredibly effective.
2. Bone Broth
They don’t call it Jewish penicillin for nothing. A hot steaming bowl of chicken soup does wonders if you are feeling under the weather. It is especially healing if it is bone broth chicken soup. The extended simmering allows for the release of collagen, minerals and amino acids from the marrow of the bones. Bone broth has immune boosting properties, and is very soothing to the gut. According to The New York Times, a doctor doing research on the effects of chicken soup on the common cold found “that the soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. Dr. Rennard theorizes that by inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells in the body, chicken soup essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.” HERE is a post on its benefits, along with my favorite recipe.
3. Ginger Tea
Ginger has an incredible effect on the immune system, fighting everything from colds to cancer. One study found fresh ginger stimulated the respiratory cells to secrete an anti-viral protein called interferon-beta. Ginger also inhibits mucous production helping with congestion. I like to make a very strong ginger tea. Take a four inch piece of ginger root. Peel the skin and cut into small discs. Put in a pot with three to four cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour. The longer it simmers the stronger the flavor. I like to let it simmer for about two hours. Pour into a mason jar, and reheat as needed. I ass some raw honey which not only makes it delicious, but also had anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties as well. Breathing the gingery steam is also great for nasal passages if you are congested, and it’s very soothing on the throat, particularly with the added honey.
4. Elderberry Syrup
Elderberry syrup is another immune powerhouse. It is extremely effective against colds and the flu. One study showed that if taken within 24 hours of symptoms, it could reduce the duration of the flu by three days. That’s really significant. It has also been shown to be effective against swine flu, though the study was only done in test tubes and not actual humans. It can also reduce inflammation in the sinuses and reduce congestion. It’s a must have in your medicine cabinet.You can buy it at most conventional pharmacies these days, or even make your own.
5. Detox Bath
The detox bath is a great way to stop a cold in its tracks. This bath raises your body temperature inducing an artificial fever which helps to kill the virus in the body. It also induces sweating, pulls toxins from the body, and the steam and essential oils open the sinuses relieving congestion.
Combine the following ingredients in a bath that is as hot as you can stand it.
1 cup epsom salt
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup sea salt (optional)
a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil
You can also add a couple of tablespoons of ground ginger to increase circulation if you want to supercharge this bath. Soak for 20 minutes to induce sweating. Get out and wrap yourself in blankets to sweat it out. Once your body has finished sweating and has cooled, rinse off in the shower, dress warm and crawl into bed for a long sleep. The magnesium in the epsom salt should make your muscles feel like jello and prepare you for a long deep rest. *Do not do this bath if you have heart problems or are pregnant.*
6. Garlic, garlic, garlic
I cannot stress how awesome and potent garlic is when it comes to antibacterial and anti-viral activity. Garlic is my husbands very first go to whenever someone around him gets sick. It had prevented him from catching many a cold when he has been touring on a bus full of sick musicians. He swears by it, and I totally agree. The garlic has to be raw to work so just make peace with the fact that you will smell like garlic for a few days. It’s so worth it to avoid getting sick, or to shorten the duration of a cold or flu significantly. There are countless studies on the beneficial effects garlic has on colds, flus, and the immune system as a whole. Chop up a clove of garlic into small pieces. Swallow like little vitamins. If you avoid chewing it, it will cut down on the lingering after taste and smell of the garlic. If you want it to be extra potent, let the chopped garlic sit for ten minutes before taking it. Crushing or chopping garlic activates the antiviral component of garlic. Ten minutes is how long it takes for the disturbed material to form the compound allicin, garlic’s powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent.
7. Neti pot or other sinus irrigation method
A neti pot or a sinus wash bottle will flush the sinus cavities of bacteria, viruses and allergens. This will not only help to prevent colds, but will also relieve congestion if the cold has already taken effect. It is also great for anyone with allergies. Be sure to add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt for every cup of water to create a saline solution. This will neutralize the water and prevent it from burning when it goes up your nose.
8. Increase your antioxidants
I prefer to use food for this by increasing my fruits and vegetables. Particularly those high in vitamin C. Lemon juice in hot water with a little honey is a staple. I also really like gooseberries for this because they are so high in vitamin C, and it is more absorbable for the body than a supplement. Indian gooseberries are the best for this purpose. Also known as amla. You can get it in powdered form, and it is a great source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. Increasing your intake of leafy greens will also support your immune system in this fight.
9. Oil Of Oregano
Oil of Oregano is another cold fighting hero. The natural terpene chemicals found in oil or oregano exhibit powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity, while carvacrol, the primary active ingredient in oil of oregano, fights off harmful pathogens. It is SUPER potent though! So be careful when you take it. I take one small drop on my tongue and that is all I need. Too much can burn and a little goes a long way. It’s powerful stuff.
There is nothing like sleep to heal your body. Most of us are chronically sleep deprived. Believe me, I know all about it. I have a toddler that takes sleep as a light suggestion. I am a pro at sleep deprivation. Unfortunately, it lowers our ability to fight off viruses. So if you can rest, do. It may be the most important thing you can do for your body. In fact sleep a couple extra hours for me. In the meantime I will be over here flushing my sinuses, smelling like a delicious pizza with my garlic and oregano, and dreaming of the day I can sleep a solid eight hours. While I can’t get a full nights sleep, I can kick this colds ass. And that is exactly what I plan to do.
Wishing you awesome health,