Cold and flu season are upon us, and it seems like everyone is sick or knows someone who is sick. Kicking a cold quickly becomes top priority when you have children. You don’t want them to get sick, not to mention taking care of children when you are under the weather is the pits.
I got hit pretty hard with a cold a few weeks ago and was able to get over it in two days using my favorite natural cold remedies. Not only did I recover quickly, but my 3-month-old son only had a runny nose for about 15 minutes and I attribute his staying healthy to my cold care regimen.
Why can’t you just take Nyquil and call it a day? Over the counter medicines are are filled with chemical preservatives, artificial colors and GMO ingredients, and they can negatively affect your digestive system. Not to mention they don’t really work.
A study by a leading cold researcher from the University of Wisconsin showed cough and cold drugs have an effectiveness rate of only 20% in reducing symptoms and virtually zero effectiveness in actually removing the bacteria or virus from your system. Our bodies are fighting against external and internal toxins every day — I’d rather not waste my money (and immune system!) on medicine that doesn’t really work and has potentially harmful ingredients.
Here are a handful of cold-fighting remedies that not only help relieve symptoms but also help your body heal. There are many great ways to help your body beat a cold and these are just a few of my favorites that are safe for the whole family, including pregnant and nursing moms. Many effective herbs and remedies are not safe for pregnancy or advised when nursing so I’m leaving them out and, as always, please consult with a medical professional before taking any supplements.
1) Think of Food As Medicine
As good ol’ Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” How right he was. Nourishing your body with nutrient dense food is crucial when your immunity is compromised. Here are my favorites:
- Garlic – Stinky? Yes. Full of antibacterial and antiviral properties? Also yes. Plus, it has been researched in thousands of studies and shown to help your body recover. You can eat it raw or in a capsule if you can’t handle the taste. I do both, as it is very effective and I’m Sicilian so no meal is complete without garlic.
- Oregano – At the first hint of a cold, I start taking oregano and notice it helps my body fight symptoms quickly. Sometimes referred to as “nature’s antibiotic,”oregano contains powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties. You can take as a liquid, but I prefer to take in capsule form because it has a very strong taste.
- Dark Leafy Greens – This one won’t surprise most people, but I like to emphasis the importance of eating dark leafy greens daily, especially when you’re sick! Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and swiss chard are filled with immune boosting vitamins A, B, C and E, and help keep your body functioning at its best.
- Soups – Chicken soup is the meal most associated with being sick…and for good reason! Warm liquids help your throat feel better and loosen up congestion, plus the combination of vegetables, protein and broth is very healing. I take chicken broth one step further and drink bone broth — bone broth is incredibly nutrient rich and offers a number of benefits to your immunity and gut health. As an added bonus, it’s collagen content helps fight cellulite and keeps skin looking supple. You can use it as a base for soups, put in any recipe that calls for broth or just drink it straight (it tastes incredibly similar to normal broth). [Writer’s note: you can make your own, but I’m a wuss and don’t like dealing with bones. I buy mine frozen from the grocery store — Bonafide Provisions is my favorite.]
- Hydration – Speaking of liquids…staying hydrated is so important when you’re sick. Your body needs to be well hydrated to function its best. Water, broths and teas help your body get rid of toxins. Pro tip: Add fresh ginger or lemon to warm water or tea for additional sources of Vitamin C, immune support and detoxification.
- Foods to Avoid – Just as important as eating nourishing foods is eliminating all foods that cause inflammation. Sugar, dairy, alcohol and processed foods lower your immune system and can prolong sickness.
2) Take Supplements
To help stay healthy year-round, I take a multivitamin, probiotic, fish oil and vitamin D daily. I keep this regimen when sick, and also add in additional vitamin C.
- Vitamin C – This antioxidant vitamin is a staple in natural cold supplements and products and is most associated with fighting colds since it’s effective in reducing the length of a cold. Vitamin C is naturally present in many citrus foods and fruits, but ditch the fruit juices and eat the real thing (they are full of sugar). Taking too much vitamin C can lead to not so pleasant side effects, such as diarrhea, so if you are taking a supplement keep your intake under 2,000 mg a day.
- Vitamin D – Many studies are showing a high vitamin D level is linked to lowered risks of getting colds and respiratory infections, and that people with a low level of vitamin D are more susceptible to getting colds. The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun but, for many of us, that isn’t an option due to the season or working inside all day. You can get vitamin D through some foods like fish and egg yolks. Supplementing with vitamin D can be very beneficial, but make sure to have your level checked before so you know what dosage is need.
- Probiotics – Your gut has good and bad bacteria. Probiotics are the good kind of bacteria, and supplementing with them and eating probiotic-rich foods help the beneficial bacteria stay dominant. Why does this matter? Along with a whole list of other benefits, beneficial bacteria can help fight viruses. You can get probiotics through fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, miso and kimchi, to name a few. Probiotic drinks such as kombucha are extremely popular and can be equally as effective. Before buying, make sure the sugar content is low since many flavors can have added sugar, which as we now know should be avoided when sick. Probiotics can also be consued in pill form. Here is one of my favorites.
- Oil Of Oregano – Oregano is a natural antioxidant, is antibacterial and antifungal which all support your immune system. Do not take during pregnancy.
- Host Defense Immune Support – When I feel a cold hit, I take this and I notice a big improvement in how I feel. (Consult your doctor but generally seen as safe during pregnancy).
- Colloidal Silver – Colloidal silver is really potent and a little bit goes a long way. It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and very effective in fighting against colds and flus. It’s very important to get true colloidal silver. There is a knock off version that can be controversial and sometimes gives the true colloidal silver a bad name. If you’d like to learn more you can read this article on it. It’s also important you take probiotics if you/your child take this for more than a few days as it’s very powerful and can mimic antibiotics and kill all gut flora, not just the bad kinds.
3) Keep Your Home Healthy
- Humidifier – Air is very dry during the winter. Run a humidifier at night to bring moisture back into the air in your bedroom to help bring comfort to dry noses and skin. Plus, viruses and bacteria cannot spread as easily in moist air. Some humidifiers even let you add in essential oils to disperse into the air. Humidifiers are widely available and reasonably priced — there are even small travel humidifiers that are great for those notoriously dry hotel rooms.
- Diffuser – Use a diffuser to circulate immune boosting essential oils throughout the air in your home. There are so many great immunity oils you can use, like eucalyptus, tea tree and oregano. My favorite is doTERRA’s On Guard which also has properties that cleanse the air. I run our diffuser all day in the living room and move it into our bedroom at night.
It’s completely safe for kids and adults can add drops to their water and drink it. Since my 3-month-old son is too young to take herbs and supplements, I put one drop of On Guard on his feet twice a day when I was sick.
Last but not least is resting. One of the best things you can do for yourself when sick is to take it easy. Your body needs energy to heal, so rest and sleep as much as possible!
Those are my tried, true and natural ways to kick the common cold. What are your favorite ways to beat it?
“Are Over-The-Counter Medicines Making You Sick?“ Vani Hari. Web. 26 February 2013.
“10 Ways a Humidifier Improves Your Health, Skin, and Household This Winter” Britta Aragon. Web. 08 January 2015. <https://www.bewell.com/blog/10-ways-a-humidifier-improves-your-health-skin-and-household-this-winter/>.
“Foods That Fight the Common Cold” Dr. Joseph Mercola. Web. 26 October 2015.