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Repost – My Favorite Cold Remedies for Fighting Coughs and Colds

Originally posted on December 5, 2016.

I wish I weren’t compelled to share this again, but it looks like we are in for a nasty cough and cold season. I know several folks diagnosed with flu and news reports indicate the latest vaccine was not effective in fighting the current strains.  So back to my bag of tricks with the hope of avoiding the worst of it. Do you have other suggestions to avoid getting sick this season?Cold remedies - Peppermint tea, menthol rub and shower tablets, Epsom salts and orange juice

Well, as fast as the holiday season has hit, so has cough and cold season.  We just recently had a touch of it in my house, but I know several families who’ve been hit hard.

When it comes to coughs, colds, sore throats, stuffy noses and heads, my remedy regime is ridiculously basic.  It’s not that I’m a naturalist or homeopath, I just don’t like the way most medicines make me feel.  If it’s not Advil or Tylenol, I’m hard pressed to take it.

Tony’s slightest sniffle go-to is always Nyquil. He’s Nyquil’s biggest fan and always suggests I give it a go when I’m not feeling my best.  My response is always the same, “No Thanks – that stuff makes me feel foggy.”

He doesn’t understand my reluctance and insists I’ll get a better night’s sleep. That may be true, but my issue isn’t with sleeping. It’s when I wake up and for the next 24-48 hours I feel like I’m walking in mud. Maybe I’m sensitive, but any variation of decongestant, antihistamine or cough suppressant just doesn’t sit well with me.

So what’s a girl to do when the sniffling, sneezing and stuffy head kicks in?  Here are a few of my favorite cold remedies whenever anyone in my house starts to get sick.

Draw a Warm, Salty Bath

At the very first sign of the common cold, which for me is usually a scratchy sore throat, I draw a soothing warm bath and throw in one to two cups of Epsom salts.  Friends that know me will laugh when they read this because some think I’m actually a little nutty about this remedy, but in my experience it really works.

When Ally was little, she would often suffer from nasty colds and ear infections.  Her body’s response was always a high fever. If, after a visit to the pediatrician, we were instructed to let the virus run its course, my first line of defense was to pop her into an Epsom salt bath. Within hours, her fever would break and she would soon be on the road to recovery.  It makes sense that the therapeutic salts help draw out bacteria and germs that contribute to feeling lousy.

If nothing else, the warm, salty bath is relaxing and promotes sleep just as well as Nyquil. And I don’t wake up the next day feeling hungover. Epsom salts are good for other purposes too: achy muscles – Epsom salts, skin irritation – Epsom salts, exfoliant – Epsom salts. You get the idea. Check out more ways to use Epsom salts, including crafts and gardening, from the Epsom Salt Council. Who knew Epsom salts had its own council?

Menthol Cold Remedies

If my salty solution doesn’t cure all and I’m still stuffed up, my next old school option is Vick’s VapoRub. Yes, this powerful mentholated cream, that’s been around forever, is still one of my favorite cold remedies and, weirdly, the smell I’m sure many people hate, brings up sweet memories of childhood. I’d slather this stuff all over with the hope of relieving whatever symptom was ailing me. And today, I believe it still serves its purpose having offered relief for all of those in my family who’ve used it. I’ve put it on noses, chests, feet and even just waved the jar under my little ladies’ noses to help clear out those stuffed up passages.  This is another classic that has more than just a few functions.  Check out these surprising uses.

In a similar vein, a new remedy I’ve yet to try but will as soon as the need arises, is something my kick-boxing instructor mentioned in class last week (Thanks Rory!). I ran right out to stock up.  They are menthol shower tablets. I could only find a generic brand, but these tablets work similarly to Vick’s VapoRub using the heat of the shower to release menthol infused steam into the air. Sounds perfect for opening airways and reviving a sluggish state of mind.

Drink Liquids

Finally, peppermint tea and good old orange juice are staples on my list of cold remedies. They hydrate and fortify and we all know that loading up on fluids when sick is a great way to flush out impurities. I load up on vitamin C fortified orange juice and peppermint tea because it’s bright and has its own health benefits including fever reducer, pain reliever and cough suppressant.

Of course I’m no doctor, but these simple cold remedies have helped me and my family get through countless coughs and colds without popping too many pills.

What are your best ways to get through a cough and cold?  Do you have home cold remedies that you love?
  • Kristen Ringler

    December 5, 2016 - 7:17 am

    Perfect timing for this post! I’m in bed with a cold! I’ll definitely try some of your remedies. Thanks Beth!

    • Beth

      December 5, 2016 - 12:09 pm

      Hope you feel better Kristen!

  • sandra monroe

    December 5, 2016 - 11:56 am

    Of course, best cure for the cold is not to get one to begin with. Avoid touching anything. ATM’s work great if you use a knuckle, never hold on to a banister or railing without a tissue or glove. Open doors with hips and forearms. I see a ton of people and it’s been a long time since I have seen a cold. Watch me get one now…I will blame Beth 🙂

    • Beth

      December 5, 2016 - 12:12 pm

      Yes Sam! These are fantastic suggestions – I always avoid holding on to banisters and whenever possible, I open public bathroom doors using a paper towel and discard the towel on my way out. Thank you!

  • Heather

    December 5, 2016 - 9:42 pm

    I have to admit that now that we’re living in Florida, colds are a few and far between. However, my hairdresser in Florida recommended a daily dose of Emergen-C and I have to say that it really works! Knock on wood, I haven’t had a cold since we have lived here.

    That being said, I — like you — am a die hard proponent of warm, salty baths. I especially love warm baths with Aromatherapy Associates Essential Oils, recommended to me by my massage therapist. (Check out these products online; they’re fantastic!.) However, I am going through withdrawals because we are in the process of renovating our master bathroom and have been without a bathtub for several months. Can’t wait for that first bath in our new BainUltra air jet tub. Ahhhh…

    Best advice….eat healthy, sleep well, exercise, avoid other sick people and wash your hands. Take care of yourself to avoid colds!

    • Beth

      December 7, 2016 - 2:29 pm

      Ah Yes! Sunny Florida- the best cold remedy around in my estimation. Be well!

  • Jen

    December 6, 2016 - 5:46 pm

    Your blog has perfect timing. My son has a cold and is going to try all your tips!!

    • Beth

      December 7, 2016 - 2:28 pm

      Hope he feels better soon!

  • Betsy

    December 8, 2016 - 8:47 am

    Love your remedies, use most of them. Will definitely try the Epsom salts and look for the shower tablets. Thanks

  • Emily

    January 16, 2018 - 9:07 am

    I have never tried the epsom salt bath for a cold! I will definitely try next time. I hate the over the counter medicine too, it’s just a bandaid. My go to is green tea, I drink 4-5 cups of it on the first day of a cold. Also, I make a soup or something with a heavy amount of garlic in it, I mean like can’t talk to anyone garlic. Lastly, I give up dairy because all it does is contribute to the sinus issues. I always forget about Vicks but I am a fan!

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