The first thing you need to know about getting sick is that you most likely have a cold. A virus, generally the rhinovirus, causes the common cold and creates symptoms like a sore throat, cough, runny nose, or sneezing.
The second thing you need to know is that the common cold is self-limiting. This means that you can do nothing to treat it and you will still get better. Generally, symptoms last 7-10 days.
With that being said, cold symptoms can be miserable. So most of us do try to treat our symptoms so that we can feel better. There are many over the counter medications that target cold symptoms but many of them have unpleasant side effects. Which is where natural cold care comes in. Natural cold care can help alleviate your symptoms while also stimulating your body to heal.
For all cold symptoms:
Your immune system requires a lot of energy to fight off a virus. The best thing we can do is rest our body so that we aren’t directing energy away from our immune system. This is easier said than done, though. Taking time off of work can be hard even if you have sick days. And sometimes, you simply have to show up to work even when you’re sick. That is unfortunate, but you will still recover from your cold. It may just take your body a little bit longer. But whenever possible, choose to use your sick days. We live in a society that has a “nose to the grindstone” mentality. We believe rest and relaxation is lazy and irresponsible, so we push ourselves constantly. Your physiology, however, disagrees. Rest and relaxation are very important to maintaining a healthy and functional body. So the next time you get sick, check your beliefs and choose to rest. You will probably realize that your lack of rest is what got you sick in the first place.
When you have a cold, you should be constantly hydrating your body. A general rule of thumb is to ingest one serving of fluids every hour. What do I mean by one serving of fluid? It could be a glass of water, a cup of herbal tea, or a bowl of broth. The idea is to keep the fluids coming. You want to avoid fluids high in sugar (like juice or soda) as that can dampen your immune response. If plain water doesn’t do it for you, try adding flavoring to your water like Emergen-C or a similar product. If herbal tea doesn’t sound appealing, try hot honey lemon water.
For a runny nose:
Use a Neti Pot or my personal favorite, Neil Med Sinus Rinse. Use this twice a day to clear out your sinuses and soothe your mucus membranes. This can help prevent your cold from developing into a sinus infection.
Steam can help open up your sinuses to get the congestion out. Simply holding a cup of hot tea under your nose can help or you can create a mini steam sauna using a large bowl of hot water and a towel. You can use essential oils such as eucalyptus to help open up your sinuses. Use 1-2 drops in a large bowl of water. You can also pour 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil on the bottom of your shower and take a hot shower to create a sauna experience.
For a sore throat:
Mix ½ teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water. Gargle for 15-30 seconds per mouthful. Repeat every 2 hours.
Topical Castor Oil
Apply a nickel-sized amount of castor oil to the front part of your upper neck and apply a heat source on top. Leave on for about 20 minutes. Rub excess castor oil into skin or wash off with soap and water. Castor oil promotes lymphatic circulation to the area, which increases the number of immune cells in an area and stimulate healing.
Warm herbal tea made with demulcent herbs can be very soothing to sore throats. Demulcents herbs include marshmallow, cinnamon, slippery elm, and licorice. Traditional Medicinals makes Throat Coat Tea, which you can find at most grocery stores. If you have high blood pressure, however, this tea is not for you. Look for another demulcent tea that does not contain licorice.
Other Tidbits to Know:
- Never use antibiotics to treat the cold. It won’t work, you will damage your gut bacteria, and promote antibiotic resistance.
- If you have a high fever (above 101), go see your doctor. You probably don’t have the common cold.
- If your symptoms don’t decrease in severity after 7 days, go see your doctor.
- If your breathing becomes affected, go see your doctor.
I'm Dr. Carly and my mission is to create a health revolution. I believe that another prescription is not the answer. I believe in using natural therapies that go beyond the symptoms. And I believe that doctors should spend way more than 7 minutes with a patient.