Let’s face it: while winter brings forth all sorts of holiday spirits, it also brings in a lot of germs.
With colds and flus and fevers (oh my!) abound, people rush to Vitamin C packets, pharmacy drugs, and drinks promising to fight illnesses within a near impossible timeline. People have been debating for years what the best cold remedy is on the market, and won’t stop any time soon.
And while there might as well be commandments for getting better— fluids, rest, lots of soup— we wanna know... What are the best natural remedies you can make or do yourself?
If you stand by your favorite store-bought products, we salute you in knowing what works for you. But for others interested in the natural, DIY options, here are some remedies for your sick day sniffles.
1. Broth: the Traditional Picker-Upper
Our moms weren’t kidding when they said all we need to heal is a little soup.
In a study done in 2000, results showed that eating soup helped the inflammation of the upper respiratory system often caused by colds by soothing it. Moreover, the broth itself contains a numerous amount of nutrition due to all the veggies also thrown in.
As much as chicken broth or the latest crazed “bone broth” might be popular right now, there’s actually not much evidence to prove that they provide features any better than a vegetarian version. In fact, some studies even say that bone broth can be harmful, whereas veggie broth has all the good stuff and more. Protein? Pick the right vegetables and it’s got you covered. Collagen? Foods like beets and spinach are there for you.
It’s easy to pick a grocery store can of veggie broth (and no shade if you do) — but tastes SO much better when you make your own. If you don’t believe us, here’s a favorite recipe that boasts of immune-system fighting ingredients like kombu seaweed and shiitake mushrooms.
Best of all: in a broth, you can use the whole vegetable. Commonly unused ingredients like the onion shells add more flavor, so you really can get away with wasting less. Save the planet and your congestion.
2. Bring on the Steam
Why is it that taking a hot shower when you’re sick feels like it completely opens your sinuses to breathing again?
Because… Well. It actually does.
A lot of congestion in the nasal cavities happen because mucus builds up too thickly. Luckily, the hot air in steam helps to make the mucus, ahem, runnier, thus helping your nasal passages to clear up.
While it doesn’t necessarily help with the virus itself, it will provide that long sought relief you’re looking for. Moreover, steam therapy has been connected to benefits unrelated to illness, such as opening clogged pores, reducing stress, and removing toxins from the body.
Not feeling like taking a shower five times a day for relief? As an eco-friendly company, we’re glad you don’t. Instead, simply boil a pot of water, pour into a large bowl and lean your head over, covering your head with a towel. This will ensure that allll the steam is going right up into those poor sinuses you’re trying to save.
3. Fluids, Fluids, Fluids
Have we said fluids enough times? We’re not done yet.
Fluids are so important because they help to not only flush out nasty bacteria, but fight the germs in the first place!
A lot of bacteria-fighting proteins use the body’s body fluids to rush to the spot of infection. Think of your body fluids as sort of a freeway that the police of your body (white blood cells) use to speed toward the scene of the crime. If you’re dehydrated, that freeway can go from four lanes to two lanes, cars will build up and it will slooow down the process of saving people… i.e. you.
Moreover, hydration helps keep your mouth and eyes—usually susceptible places where germs can get into your body—protected with the moisture.
That being said: we know how cold water isn’t exactly refreshing on the sore throat, and drinking so much—even when you warm it up—can get boring. We recommend you spice it up with ginger, which is chock full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
4. And the Opposite Wonder: Salt Water
As a disclaimer: we’re not asking you to drink salt water. Keep up with the good fluids like that ginger-infused hot water or coconut water for that much-needed hydration.
But we are recommending you gargle salt water.
Much like steam therapy, gargling can help break up the mucus in your throat, as well as having other incredible, sickness-fighting benefits. It can cut down the harmful bacteria in your mouth, soothe your inflamed sore throat, and even reduce the chance of another upper respiratory infection by 40%!
Simply dissolve a half-teaspoon of salt in a cup of water (make sure the water is warm, not hot—let’s not scald your already suffering throat!). Take a sip and gargle for 30 seconds with your head tilted back. Spit out, then repeat until the full cup of water is finished.
In all honesty, it’s not the best tasting remedy… But trust us: your throat will thank you.
We know. This may be the most cliche of the tips.
Maybe it’s not one you would think of as “DIY,” but hey. It is the most natural way of getting better.
And we get it: you’re incredibly busy, especially if you’ve just taken the day off for sick leave. Since you have the day, maybe you’re tempted to be productive. You’re planning to do a little work on your computer, clean the house, organize the rest of your family’s belongings—
For the sake of your getting better: we beg you to please. Go back to bed.
Bed rest is so important when it comes to recovering. For one, your body is so physically vulnerable in the face of stress— i.e. your everyday, tireless schedule— that it becomes easier and easier to be susceptible to your cold in the first place. Similarly, when you’re not getting much rest, it’s hard for the body to focus on simply recovering.
Try to relax: pile on the blankets, put on your coziest pajamas and sleep with two pillows (the luxury!) so that your head is tilted and the nasal passages are better cleared.
It doesn’t cost a dime to get good sleep, but the more you do it, the sooner we promise you’ll feel like a million bucks.
Have any go-to natural remedies we didn’t mention? Give us your tips in the comments below!