It's that time of year again: the dreaded Cold Season. The vast majority of colds are due to viral infection and by supporting your immune system, you should be able to fight it off fairly quickly. Here are some tried and tested home remedies that we as naturopathic doctors often recommend to our patients as first-line treatments.
If you've visited us at the North Gower Farmers' Market, we recommend these treatments on a regular basis via our Health Tips of the Day.
We've put Warming Socks at #1 because it's an incredibly effective treatment for head congestion and runny noses. An age-old remedy, it uses hydrotherapy to manipulate the body's circulation to help drain nasal sinuses and boost your immune system while you rest. Here's how to do it:
1) Soak thin cotton socks in cold water an wring out thoroughly so they're damp
2) Place the damp cotton socks on your feet
3) Place thick dry wool socks over the damp cotton socks
4) Go to bed or cover up
In the morning, your feet will be dry and your sinuses should be clear.
Eucalyptus Steam Inhalation
One of the easiest treatments for nasal congestion, sore throats and phlegm build-up, this treatment is one we always recommend when people have a cold. It's very easy, but caution that the steam can burn the skin:
1) Pour 1-2 inches of boiling water into a broad bowl
2) Place 3-5 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil in the bowl
3) Cover your head with a towel over the bowl and gently inhale the eucalyptus-infused steam
Another variation of this for chidren or the elderly is to place a few drops near the drain when taking a shower. The steam from the shower will help diffuse the oil. Be careful not to put the drops where you'll step as it can be slippery.
This is an excellent tonic for immune and digestive health. They say the immune system is rooted in the gut, and this treatment would certainly support that. Full of nutritive vitamins, mineral, oils and amino acids, bone broth consumption is both a general day-to-day practice and an acute immune boosting treatment we recommend. It may seem strange if you've never tried it, but once you get used to it, it'll be hard to resist!
Here's a LINK to a more detailed explanation, with the instructions near the end.
Plain and simple, if you're starting to feel sick, start wearing a scarf all day. In fact, wearing a scarf is one of the best ways to prevent a cold. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the back of your neck is your "Wind Gate", and if Wind invades your body (which it typically does via the back of your neck), then you will get cold symptoms. This is a metaphor for the fact that an exposed neck is often a recipe for Cold susceptibility and there are clear physiological reasons for this. Make sure your neck stays nice and warm so the circulation to your head stays clear and your lymphatic flow is maintained. It's also very cozy to have a scarf on at this time of year!
Salt Water Gargle
Salt water gargles are a quick and easy way to clear infections in your throat. If you have a sore throat, try this first:
1) Place 1 tsp of sea salt into 250mL of luke warm water
2) Take a sip and gargle it for 5-10 seconds, then spit it out
3) Repeat 3-5 times, 3x/day
Often, this is enough to clear the onset of a sore throat.
Diet & Hydration
And lastly, make sure you drink enough water/fluids and avoid things like caffeine, sugar, alcohol and processed foods. These all tend to depress immune function and contribute to infection. There's much more to this explanation, but for now:
1) Make sure you drink 2-3L of water/tea/natural juice
2) Emphasize vegetables, especially in stew form (easy to digest)
3) Minimize the "good" stuff (sweets, coffee, alcohol, anything that comes in a wrapper)
The next time you're feeling the onset of a cold, try these simple remedies first and you may be surprised what your immune system can do when you support it.