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?
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.
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.