Natural Remedies for Colds and Sore Throats

While I’m sitting here on my couch with a sore throat, runny nose, and my tea, feeling sorry for myself, let’s chat about the common cold…

Despite what many think, colds are not caused by bacteria.  Colds are brought on by viruses, which do not respond to antibiotics, and are often caused by an immune system impairment, such as stress, lack of rest, or a poor diet.  Unfortunately, there’s not much your doctor can do to get rid of a cold other than tell you to get plenty of rest and let it run its course.

As a general rule of thumb, I call my doctor if a high fever doesn’t break, if I can’t keep anything down (including water), or if I think I might have strep/it hurts to swallow beyond the normal discomfort associated with a cold/sore throat.  If I’m not experiencing any of these symptoms, I get as much rest as I can and stick to some tried and true natural remedies that ease symptoms and begin to restore my health and immunity.

These are some of my favorites…

cold remedies

Ginger Tea:  For thousands of years, ginger root has been used as herbal medicine to treat nausea, headaches, and cold symptoms.  Boil about a cup of water with peeled or minced ginger for a few minutes.  Strain and serve for a soothing tea.
Check out this article by Food Matters: 10 Healling Benefits of Ginger

Eucalyptus Oil:  Eucalyptus oil is well known for it’s natural antibacterial, antiviral, and decongestant properties.  To help with nasal congestion, boil a pot of water and add 10 drops of eucalyptus oil.  Remove the pot from the heat and inhale the steam with a towel over your head (to lock in the moisture).  To aid with chest congestion, add 10 drops of eucalyptus oil to a small palmful of coconut oil (solid) and rub on your chest for a homemade vapor rub.

Honey:  Asides from being incredibly soothing, honey contains phytonutrients that have antibacterial and antiviral properties that can boost immunity and fight sickness.  In addition, studies have shown that honey is more effective at soothing a cough than over the counter cough suppressants.  Tea with honey (even ginger tea) is the simplest way to add honey into the mix when your sick.  Dr. Mercola also has a great recipe for a home-made cough syrup using just honey and lemon.

Check out this post on why you should only buy raw, local honey.

Hydrogen Peroxide in the Ear:  My mom swears by this, and even my doctor recommends it over medication.  Take a cap-full of peroxide and pour it into the ear.  You will feel bubbling and tingling sensations; when this sensation subsides (after about 10 minutes) drain onto a tissue and switch ears.  Dr. Mercola goes into a bit more detail about this, but research and findings have been ignored or thwarted by the medical community for years, so research is not necessarily available on this.  Still, I swear it works, and so does everyone else that uses this remedy!

Some other tips:
– Vitamin D plays a crucial role in immunity, so it’s important to get outside when we can, or at least eat foods high in vitamin D.
– Eat healthy.  I truly believe that a healthy, balanced diet is the key to health, especially when we’re feeling ill.  Avoid processed foods, sugar, caffeine and alcohol while under the weather and make sure to stay hydrated.
– Wash your hands frequently.  We are so preoccupied with breathing, kissing, sharing utensils, etc, that we forget how much our hands touch throughout the day.  Washing our hands is statistically more important in staving off germs and viruses than avoiding mouth to mouth contact.

Here’s to your health!

Xo, Tori

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