Natural Remedies for the Common Cold

Sick young man eating soup.
The common cold is a viral infection that often affects many of us during changes in seasons or over the winter months. (Image: Chernetskaya via Dreamstime)

The common cold is a viral infection that often affects many of us during changes in seasons or over the winter months. We all have experienced common cold symptoms, such as a sore throat, cough, and a running or blocked nose.

Treating a cold virus with antibiotics is of no benefit, as they are only effective on bacteria. It is also good to remember that a cold is not the same as the flu, a specific type of virus that may lead to secondary bacterial infections. If you have a fever and the throat pain persists for more than two days, you may have the flu instead of a cold. A fever is not usually part of the common cold.

The best time to act is when you start to feel that tickle in your throat or the sniffle’s first strike. These are signs that the immune system is preparing to defend itself. Luckily, nature has many ways to boost the body, and herbs, like garlic and ginger, as well as vitamin-rich foods, are some of the best.

Cloves of garlic.
Raw garlic has traditionally been used for centuries, and laboratory evidence has shown that it has potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. (Image: congerdesign via Pixabay)

Garlic, lemon, honey

Raw garlic has traditionally been used for centuries, and laboratory evidence has shown that it has potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. For example, a British study published in Advances in Therapy found that when 146 people took garlic every day for three months, they had significantly fewer colds (24 colds) than the placebo group (65 colds).

Understandably, very few of us can eat raw garlic, but when it is steeped in a warm tea and masked with lemon and raw honey, it is much more tolerable and good for you.

To make the drink, place a couple of cloves of peeled garlic into a cup of hot water for at least 10 minutes. Next, add the juice of one lemon and two tablespoons of raw honey to the same cup. Lemons are high in vitamin C (a natural antihistamine), and raw honey has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

More honey can be added depending on your taste. Ginger is also great to add if you’re getting a chill, as it is naturally warming and can increase circulation.

Vitamin C and zinc

Vitamin C is well known for preventing viral infections and aiding recovery. The foods richest in vitamin C are (in order) red chilies, guavas, red capsicum, kale, parsley, green capsicum, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, strawberries, papayas, spinach, and oranges. Spicy hot foods, like chili, also work like a natural decongestant, helping your body to expel mucus.

Other important foods to increase are those high in zinc, which helps fight the virus on contact. High zinc foods (in order) are oysters, pecans, split peas, whole grain wheat, rye, and oats, lima beans, almonds, walnuts, sardines, chicken/turkey, and buckwheat.

When you have a cold, spicy hot foods, like chilies, also work like a natural decongestant, helping your body to expel mucus.
Spicy hot foods, like chilies, also work like a natural decongestant, helping your body to expel mucus. (Image: via Pixabay)

Drink plenty of liquids

There’s harmony between our bodies and the climate when we eat foods according to the season. For example, eating warm and nourishing foods like fresh soups in winter is best. Other liquids, like water, keep you hydrated and aid recovery.

Excess sugar suppresses the immune system and inhibits the body’s ability to decongest. Avoiding sugary foods can even prevent colds.

Warm moist air

Apart from eating the right foods, some simple lifestyle tips can help you soldier through the colder months.

Vaporizers are popular in offices to keep air moist, especially in dry, heated rooms. If it’s possible, opening the windows slightly will have the same effect as a vaporizer.

Steam inhalation can unblock decongestion in the nose and sinuses. Fill a basin with hot water and add a few drops of eucalyptus oil. Then, bend over the basin, bring a towel over your head to cover the basin, and inhale the oil for a few minutes.

Finally, the most obvious tip is to keep warm and rugged up. For example, a warm hat can prevent a 40 percent heat loss from your head. Other beneficial activities include taking regular visits to saunas, usually found at a local swimming pool or gym.

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  • Sheridan Genrich

    I’m Sheridan, a clinical nutritionist, naturopath and iridologist based in Brisbane. My client base stretches Australia-wide and throughout the USA. I thrive on helping individuals and families find the missing pieces to enhance their mind and body, based on genetics, lifestyle and real food practices.

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