Written by: Cally Worden
We all know that there is no cure for the common cold and, while the flu virus can be hopefully kept at bay with a vaccine, if you do succumb to the flu then you’re in for a rough ride while your immune system sorts itself out for the fight. It’s enough to drive you deeper under the duvet with a hot lemon drink, preferably laced with a drop of whisky – for medicinal purposes only, of course. The good news is that there are a number of natural remedies for cold and flu you can try.
Let it flow
The most natural remedy of all is to do nothing. A fever, cough, runny or stuffy nose are all natural ways that your body fights off the bugs inside. Interfering with this natural process can prolong the agony, so if you are able to endure a few days of misery it may actually help you body heal more efficiently.
Know how to blow
Clearing your nose of mucus is important to help heal a cold, but if you blow too hard it can send stuff back into your ear canal and give you earache. Instead, hold one nostril closed and blow gently down the other, then switch and repeat. Little and often, that’s the key.
Salt water remedy
I live in France and the first thing any self-respecting pharmacist here throws in your direction when a cold appears, is a salt spray for the nose. Grim, but it works, helping to break down mucus and remove bacteria from the nose. A gentler alternative to a quick spritz up the nose is to make your own home mixture by mixing 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp baking powder into 250ml of warm water. Hold one nostril closed and use a syringe to gently squirt the liquid up the other nostril, allowing it to drain naturally before giving a gentle blow. Repeat 2-3 times.
Keep warm and rest-up
I like the sound of this. And it makes complete sense! By resting, you allow your body to divert necessary energy to the immune system, speeding up the healing process
Love your Throat
A sore throat is a pain in more ways than one, but can be eased by gargling with a warm solution of salt water. Mix 1/2 tsp salt with 250ml of warm water and gargle 4-5 times a day for natural relief.
For an irritating tickle in the tonsils, use an astringent blend to tighten up the membranes – black tea works well believe it or not, as does honey and lemon, or honey and apple cider vinegar mixed with warm water. Who knew?!
Take a hot shower
The steam created will help relax your nasal passages and moisturise any dry and sore parts.
Drink it hot
There is a reason why hot drinks make the nose run – the heat loosens the membranes and this can help to relieve pressure caused by inflamed membranes when you are blocked up with a cold. Try a hot toddy before bed – this age old remedy of honey, lemon and a splash of whisky mixed in hot water works a treat. Avoid the temptation to add too much alcohol, or you risk further inflaming your membranes.
Elevate your head
Sleeping with the boost from an extra pillow will allow gravity to help relieve your congested nasal passageways.
Many foods help your body fight infection, so if you are under the weather, try munching on spicy foods like chillies, mustard and horseradish to help break up and reduce mucus, and bell peppers are a great natural source of vitamin C.
Go Hot and Cold
Apply hot or cold packs to your sinuses to ease the pressure of congestion. Both temperatures work just as well as each other, so choose the one that disturbs you least – personally I’d go for warm every time as winter bites!