Seven Natural Cold Remedies

We spent the last half of October not only preparing for Halloween but also dealing with various illnesses. First we faced the flu, which swept through my eldest daughter’s class and infected all the kids and both teachers over the course of five days. Both our daughters caught it but fortunately had mild cases. Just as things were wrapping up on the flu front, however, Richard caught a cold, which quickly morphed into an awful upper respiratory illness complete with hacking cough. The cold lasted much longer than the flu so we’ve had lots of chances to implement our favorite natural cold remedies and try out some that were new to us. Most of them would also help with the flu. If you have sickos at home, I hope you find some relief for your family members here!

Here are the seven natural cold remedies that made the biggest difference for our family:

(1) Get lots of sleep. One of the first routines that is suspended for sick folks in our house is our typical sleep schedule. Both bedtime and wake-up time become very flexible for the ill one since extra sleep is the first thing I encourage. Research has shown that too little sleep can lower immune response. We want fully functional immune systems so strongly encourage resting while ill. Lots of books to read in bed and cozy PJs help with this, for our kids and for us!

(2) Use a neti pot. Lots of folks use neti pots to combat allergies but they are equally as useful in treating cold symptoms. A neti pot is a small teapot-like container than allows for easy irrigation of nasal passages with salt water. We use this one. While prepackaged salt water or mixes are available, we make our own with body temperature tap water and 1/4 teaspoon of noniodized salt per pot. Don’t use iodized salt as it will burn.

If you have never seen anyone use a neti pot, here is a quick video. My apologies for using a commercial for the video but it was the clearest non-comedic video I could find.

(3) Drink hot beverages. Since dehydration is an issue for people with colds, especially little ones, providing liquids in soothing forms is beneficial. Staying well hydrated helps your body produce more liquidy mucous – yucky but important because it is easier to expel through coughing and nose blowing. Getting it out reduces the odds of a cold turning into an ear or sinus infection. In addition, drinks such as tea and warmed apple cider simply feel great on a sore throat.

(4) Eat chicken soup. This remedy has been around so long that many assume it doesn’t really work but research has shown chicken soup is effective in relieving the symptoms from colds. Consumer Reports featured chicken soup in an article on Home Remedies That Work: Colds and Coughs and said

Steven Rennard, M.D., a pulmonologist at the University of Nebraska, and his colleagues used his wife’s grandmother’s recipe to cook up a batch of vegetable-filled chicken soup. They conducted test-tube analyses of soup samples and found that it prevented excessive buildup of virus-fighting cells called neutrophils, which trigger the inflammatory responses that make cold sufferers feel so rotten.

I make a quick homemade chicken soup with organic chicken broth, loads of garlic since it enhances immune functioning, barley, and cut up veggies. The research mentioned above found that there was an interaction between the compounds found in chicken and the vegetables so be sure to include vegetables even if your child is not a fan.

(5) Take steamy showers. As I type, Richard has been hacking away in the shower. Poor sweetie! However, breathing in all the warm steam is helping to loosen the mucous in his throat and chest, making it easier for him to get out of his body. He feels much better for hours after each shower.

(6) Gargle with salt water. This action not only helps soothe a raw throat and loosen mucous but also kills the bacteria inside the throat. Simply add 1 teaspoon of salt, either iodized or noniodized, to an 8 ounce glass of warm water and gargle away. Make sure your kids can spit out the water once they are done gargling, rather than swallowing it!

(7) Have honey before bed. Now that the FDA has strongly recommended that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines no longer be given to any child under the age of two and is reviewing the safety of these products for children under the age of twelve, parents are wondering how to help their child. In studies, a spoon or two of honey was given at bedtime to children with upper respiratory tract infections at bedtime. The honey reduced nighttime coughing and improved sleep sleep at well as one of the most commonly used over-the-counter medicines. As you likely know, honey should not be given to any child younger than one as it can cause a rare but very serious form of botulism.

I hope these natural cold remedies find you and your loved ones relief during cold and flu season.

Note: This article was not produced with any support from the Rest and Fluids industry.

If you have remedies that have worked well for you, please share them!

This article was originally published on Greening Families amid the sound of much wheezing and hacking. We’ve moved to fewer coughs and sniffles so feel free to visit us for more earth, wallet, and family friendly tips!

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