When the “common cold” strikes – as it will for most of us, at least once this year – try these time-tested ways to soothe those annoying symptoms and promote healing.
- Humidify the air. This is not only a cold soother, it’s also a general comfort tactic during the cold, dry winter months. It’s easier than you think, and does NOT require expensive, messy, drippy electric humidifiers (although they’re convenient when someone needs a shot of steam right next to their bed). Natural, gentle moisture can be added to your home in many ways. If you have a wood stove, you already know the value of keeping a steamer filled with water on top. That little plume of steam does a lot to keep things from drying out, fast. Simmering a full teakettle or even a pan of water on your stove top is a good alternative. Just be sure to watch the water level – never let it boil dry. Try leaving the bathroom door open when you take a shower to let steam escape into the rest of the house. Even drying your clothes on an old-fashioned dryer will get a good bit of moisture into the air (along with drying your laundry for free).
- Eat and drink your medicine. We’ve all heard that hot chicken soup is actually proven to help colds feel better faster. But there are lots of other things to eat and drink that can act as “natural medicines” when you have a cold. Eating garlic, citrus fruits and fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir can help your body fight off colds and shorten their duration. If you do catch a cold, a simple mug of hot water, lemon juice and honey can do wonders for a sore throat. Teas help reduce inflammation and comfort throats, too. And, drinking lots of fluids helps restore some of the fluids being lost from all that, ahem, nose blowing. (Here’s a good article on “superfoods” that fight colds.”
- Rest. We’re all guilty of “pushing through” an illness at times. Even if you don’t stay home until your cold is gone, at the very least curb your activities and give yourself some time to rest in the evenings. A few extra hours of sleep go a long way in helping you feel better faster. Warm, soft blankets don’t hurt, either. And old-time down pillows…
- Try old-time natural remedies. Skip the chemicals and terrible-tasting, sugary syrups and soothe your cold the way your ancestors might’ve: a simple vapor bath in a large dishpan or basin, some old-fashioned salve or liniment and, for those aches and pains, a warm neck wrap and hot water bottle. And, for preventative measures, try a nasal cleansing pot. Its gentle stream of water removes pollen, pollutants and other irritants and also keeps viruses from taking hold in the nasal passages.
Ahhhhh – doesn’t that feel better?