well, here i was wondering what topic i should write about first on this blog and lo and behold, i got hit with a cold a few days ago.
and not just the sniffles, but a painfully sore throat, achy bones and all out fatigue. luckily, i am unemployed at the moment so these past few days have consisted of my (equally unemployed) husband making me breakfast, spending the whole day on the sofa and watching episodes of 30 rock and the office. but as much fun as the previous activities can be, they lose their luster when you are coughing up a storm, have snot running down your nose and on the edge of tears when you have to swallow.
so what is a natural health lady like myself supposed to do? guzzle a gallon of dayquil and go about my merry way? no, i say!
i will admit, it is more difficult to treat a tough cold and cough without those heavy hitters but they aren’t good for you anyway (and they only mask your symptoms instead of holistically healing you from the inside out.) in addition, strong cold medicines like nasal decongestants can make your cold worse and give you all kinds of other problems.
in an effort to take a giant step away from chemicals and pharmaceuticals, i wanted to write about some helpful and healthy remedies for the common cold and everything that comes with it.
in ayurveda, a cold is a kaphic disorder, with the kapha imbalance creating excess mucus and congestion. there are many natural remedies to pacify kapha and relieve your symptoms.
if you are experiencing a runny nose, the sniffles or nasal congestion, there are a few main ways to make you feel better real fast.
for a runny nose or the sniffles, a steam of mint, ginger and/or eucalyptus will immediately begin to clear your sinuses. reading my tea leaves has a great post (with pictures!) on an easy way to create a steam at home. a tea of 2 parts ginger, 3 parts cinnamon and a pinch of ground cardamom will also clear up a cold. you can make a large amount of this tea ahead of time and steep 1 teaspoon in hot water for 10-15 minutes. if you feel it needs to be sweetened, you can add honey as desired.
nasal congestion can be alleviated by the wondrous neti pot. i myself haven’t bought one yet since i am a little scared of sticking a stream of water up my nose but once i get over that fear, i will pick one up. everyone i know who has one can’t stop raving about it and the variety of benefits that can come from this tiny little pot. if you aren’t ready for a journey through full nasal irrigation yet, i would highly recommend an all-natural saline spray such as xlear which has xylitol and grapefruit seed extract added to soothe your sinus passages. it really helps relieve a runny nose and it also helps heal irritated nasal cavities.
in ayurveda, there are two types of coughs. a “dry cough” which is a vatic disorder and a “mucus cough” which is a kaphic disorder. if you have a dry cough, you can eat a ripe banana with honey and black pepper. a mucus cough can be helped by eating ground black pepper with a spoonful of honey. this should be taken a few times a day for 3-5 days. if the cough simply won’t go away, you can boil a chopped clove of garlic in milk (if not dairy, try to use nut milk, not soy milk). then add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. it might taste a little like garlic soup but trust me, it is worth it.
the sore throat
oh boy, this is one of the most painful things to have. to relieve a sore throat you can do one (or more) of the following:
gargle with salt and hot water. this seems to work some of the time but not always. if that doesn’t do the trick, you can make a mixture of equal parts honey and apple cider vinegar. although it might smell (and taste) horrid, apple cider vinegar is an absolute godsend. in fact, it is so amazing that it will be have a post of its own at a later point in time. for now, just deal with the POW! that ACV hits you with and if you gargle (and swallow) the mixture, your sore throat will be on its way in no time. if you can’t handle the ACV (which happens to some people, my husband couldn’t even be in the kitchen while i was making the mixture), you can always gargle with the juice from half a lemon and a tablespoon of honey.
one remedy that i always use (even when i don’t quite have a sore throat) is what i call “TLC with HLC”. fill half a tablespoon with honey, fill the other half with fresh lemon juice and sprinkle cayenne pepper on top. one slow swallow (so that the mixture can coat the throat thoroughly) and you will be feeling better already!
the wonderful leslie from crunchy betty posted an excellent article on other cold and cough remedies, including a homemade sage honey for a sore throat (i am dying to make it!) and an amazing elderberry syrup that you can use either when you are sick or when you are just trying to prevent a flu. her website is incredible so you should put aside an hour (or two) to peruse her endless natural health wisdom.
a few side notes:
since aspirin and ginger are both blood-thinners, you should not take them at the same time.
if you are vegan, maple syrup can substitute for honey.
make sure you get plenty of rest. that includes napping and sleeping in. tell your boss absolutely ayurveda said so!
stay away from animal products sugars, dairy, cold drinks/foods and caffeine. they create even more mucus and slow down your recovery. instead, stick to hearty whole grains, steamed colorful veggies and LOTS of tea.
take time to relax and let your body heal. all too often, we are running around, trying to get everything done…even when we are sick!
make sure that your house is warm and that you are bundled up with socks, a sweatshirt and a head covering. if available, use a humidifier by your bedside. add a few drops of lavender to the humidifier water and it will relax you to sleep.
i hope this article will help you get well next time you are hit with a cold. and i leave you with this dreamy gem to relax your mind!