I have yet to go an entire winter without falling victim to the common cold. There’s just something about the chilly weather and short, dreary days that seems to invite sickness. And while colds are generally innocuous, going to work with a runny nose, watering eyes, and itching sinuses is never fun. Generally, as soon as I start feeling a cold creeping on, I’m first in line at the drug store trying to stock up on under the counter remedies. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop a cold in its tracks altogether. Symptoms can be treated, but buying bottle after bottle of cough syrup is expensive (not to mention that gross artificial cherry flavor—yuck!). So this winter, I’ve been digging up some low-cost tried and true home remedies that can ease the symptoms of a common cold naturally. That means no more waiting in line at drug stores or gargling fake dies and artificial fruit flavoring. Cold season just got a lot more bearable!
Tip: These remedies work well for allergies too!
Ginger is a home cold remedy you can grow right in your garden, but store bought will also do! Ginger boosts the immune system, brings down inflammation, and relieves congestion in the nose, head, and throat. For best effect, grate a couple teaspoons of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water and let soak (I like adding lemon and honey as well). Drink the mixture as a tea and feel instant relief!
Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is great for clearing sinuses and boosting the immune system. The vinegar is strong on its own, but it can be made into a tea with lemon, honey, and hot water to make it palatable. Use about two tablespoons ACV, equal parts honey, and then lemon and water to taste. Sipping or gargling the mixture will help you feel refreshed.
Vitamins are best when you initially feel the cold start to come on. Eating oranges, kiwis, strawberries, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and dark leafy greens will boost your vitamin C levels and strengthen your immune system. Eating plenty of these fruits and veggies in the winter will help your body fight off colds before they materialize.
Rest and Water
A good night’s sleep is always helpful, especially during an illness. If you feel a cold coming on, considering taking a day off work to relax, rest, and drink plenty of fluids. Keep a canteen of water by your bedside and try to drink eight ounces of water every two hours or so. Staying hydrated will keep your immune response strong.
Many common colds are accompanied by a sore or itchy throat. To reduce swelling and irritation in your throat, you can gargle with a homemade saltwater mixture. Just mix ¼ teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water and gargle thoroughly.
Though notorious for causing running noses, the spice in peppers can actually help clear out a stuffed up nasal cavity. Don’t go overboard—a small dab of Sriracha or a bit of jalapeno is plenty to open up your sinuses and provide some much needed relief.