Home Remedies for Colds
Lately I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what folks can do to care for themselves during a cold. It’s hard to be clear-headed and summon the energy needed for simple self care while in the throes of a cold. May this information serve as a gentle reminder of the simple things you can do to alleviate your suffering in those moments of fatigue and discomfort.
What to do:
Rest as much as possible. Take at least one full day off of work (and do not work from home). Your body needs you to channel all your resources into recovering, and this isn’t possible if you’re still answering emails and taking calls all day. Curl up with a good book or a good movie and let go of your worries. Your to do list will still be there once you’re feeling better.
Drink at least 2 quarts of room temperature or warm water per day. Increase that amount and add electrolytes if you are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea.
What to eat:
If you have an appetite (even just a little one), chicken soup is your best friend. You can make your own (try Mama Tong’s recipe- their soups are also available by delivery) or order delivery from a local Thai restaurant (Tom Kha or Tom Yum are both good choices). Simple soup additions are a poached egg for protien, miso and sauerkraut for probiotics, shiitake or maitake mushrooms for immune support, and ginger, garlic, and scallions for their antimicrobial properties. Keep your diet simple and focus on warm, cooked vegetables, grains, and proteins.
Foods to avoid:
Cold foods, dairy, refined flour, and sugar all contribute to dampness in the body, which can cause pathogens to fester in the body. Taking a week or two off of these damp-natured foods will help with a speedy recovery. Also avoid coffee and smoking.
Herbs for colds:
Antiviral herbs such as echinacea and elderberry can be taken at the onset of a cold and for its duration to help your immune system mount an attack on invading pathogens.
If you’ve got the chills, make tea with warming herbs, such as ginger, garlic, cayenne, and cinnamon.
If you’re feeling warm or running a fever, make a cooling diaphoretic tea to help open your pores and cool you down; peppermint, elder flower, chamomile, lemon balm, and catnip are all good choices.
Gypsy Cold Care boxed tea contains a wonderful blend of herbs appropriate for fever and/or chills, available at most health foods stores.
For sore throats, sage tea with honey soothes. For congested sinuses, try thyme tea, or a facial steam with eucalyptus, peppermint, or lavender essential oils. Persistent coughs can be alleviated by eating steamed or baked pears.
If you find yourself catching colds frequently, try immune stimulating herbs such as astragalus or reishi mushroom. Make sure you are bundling up when outdoors- traditional Chinese wisdom believes that colds enter the body through the back of the neck, so always wear a scarf and don’t leave the house with wet hair in the winter!
Acupuncture and herbs are wonderful for prevention and treatment of colds. People report catching fewer colds when receiving regular acupuncture, as well as a decrease in severity of symptoms when a cold does take hold. I always encourage people to come and see me when they are feeling sick, since I have a strong immune system (don’t worry about getting me sick!) and I can help you recover faster. If you’d like to know how acupuncture and herbs can support your immune system, please call at 503-939-1051 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.