How To Tuesdays: Natural remedies to fight off a cold

Last week we highlighted the symptoms and the differences between a cold and a flu. Just to recap, it is important to understand the difference between a cold and the flu as a flu mimics the symptoms of a cold but can lead to certain life-threatening complications such as pneumonia. A cold starts slowly, the first symptom is usually a sore throat followed by sneezing and a runny nose two or three days later. This is usually accompanied by aching muscles and a slight fever. With flu the symptoms are more severe, your fever will be higher and your aching body worse. After a cold you might feel weak for a few days, after the flu you will probably be out of action for some time longer, possibly even a few weeks.

If you are often burdened by these symptoms and do not want to take antibiotics every time here are a few natural remedies you can follow:

  • Stay in bed for a few days if possible. Our immune systems are stressed because of our busy lifestyles and do not have the energy to fight off these foreign bodies. Rest and rejuvenate.

  • Do not exercise, it places unnecessary strain on your heart and lungs.

  • Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water, fruit juice and rooibos tea. Even though you have no appetite try to eat soup.

  • Invest in a humidifier with a tray on top in which in which you can put some aromatherapy oils. This puts moisture into the air which helps loosen your phlegm, hydrates the mucous linings of your airways and disinfects the environment. Oils to try are lavender, eucalyptus, tea-tree or peppermint.

  • Increase your intake of antioxidants: rooibos tea is rich in antioxidants and so is cayenne pepper. A teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a bit of water is  a miracle drink that everyone should try to have every morning. Warning: it is very burny. Have some yoghurt or a glass of milk ready to soothe the burn.

  • Dose up on Vitamin C as this vitamin serves a protective role in the body. With respect to fighting infection Vitamin C blocks potentially damaging free radicals, is an antioxidant and a natural antihistamine which means it stops inflammation that the body produces in response to allergies. Food rich in Vitamin C include parsley, broccoli, strawberries, oranges, lemons, papaya, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. You can also just buy it in tablet or powder form from any chemist and some grocery stores.

  • The herb, Echinacea, is a natural anti-biotic and acts as a decongestant that dries the mucous linings in a gentle way, whilst supporting the immune system.

What home remedies do you recommend to relieve the symptoms of the common cold or what are the things that you need as TLC when you are sick and feeling sorry for yourself?