According to the Mayo Clinic, once contracted the cold stays with you for up to 2 weeks. That means 2 weeks of unpleasant down time for you. The sneezing, stuffiness, congestion and overall body aches can make this one of the most uncomfortable experience of the season. Though they are categorized as ‘minor’ infections of the upper respiratory tract, colds can most certainly put a dent in your daily lifestyle. Over 200 various viruses can lay claim to infecting you with the cold. The most common villain being the rhinovirus, attacking up to 40 percent of cold sufferers.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, as an adult you can expect to experience from 1 to 4 colds per year, with children getting 6 or more. Cold season is typically known as occurring between September and May, so it’s a good idea to get a jump on them by starting to eat healthier, take your supplements and get plenty of rest.
The common cold also impacts our national economy. According to a study by Bramley, Lerner, and Sames, the common cold is estimated to cost our economy up to $25 billion dollars per year. This includes 16.6 billion in productivity loss, $8 billion for sick days, and $230 million to stay home and take care of sick family members.
So, knowing the common cold is not only a painful, but time consuming experience, what can we do to either halt it in its tracks, or ease the symptoms? Well, since there is currently no cure for the common cold, we’ve decided to assemble a few natural remedies to help you weather this unpleasantness. We’ll cover the relaxing effects of natural detox baths, along with some simple food and beverage suggestions to get you through the tough times, with little or no effort on your part.
The Detox Bath
There is no better way to relax when you have a cold or flu, than a nice, simple detox bath. While there might not be much hard research evidence to support it, users who take these baths report that their cold symptoms are vastly reduced, and that they have a much better time sleeping. So grab your robe, light a few scented candles, and prepare to take a nice, soothing and relaxing detox bath.
Here’s a few of our favorite detox bath recipes to get you started!
Mustard Detox Bath Recipe
For decades, mustard has been the go to ingredient when it came to relieving congestion, sinus stuffiness, aches and pains associated with colds and flu. It was used with great success to relieve the symptoms of bronchitis, croup, asthma, sore throat and even muscle aches. In fact, mustard baths have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for many years. Natalie Coughlin is an Olympic, world class swimmer, gold medalist who believes that a mustard bath was an essential part of her post-workout routine, and used them regularly.
This once regularly prescribed, natural trans-dermal drug, has drifted from the public eye with the advent of over the counter cold remedies. However, it is now seeing a comeback as people are rediscovering its powerful effects. The sensation of heat is produced when water comes in contact with the powdered mustard, and allyl isothiocyanate is created. This substance is then penetrates the skin, leaving you feeling warm all over, relaxing your body.
- 1/4 Cup mustard seed powder
- 1/4 Cup epsom salt
- 1/4 Cup Dead Sea salt
- 1/4 Cup baking soda
- 10 to 12 drops of any one of these essential oils:
- Sweet thyme
Once you blend all of the above ingredients, simply pour into a warm bath. Sit back, relax and feel the rejuvanating effects of the mixture on your tired and aching muscles.
Ginger Detox Bath Recipe
Ginger has a long and noble history when it comes to battling the cold and flu. As a natural antiviral, ginger can help you get to the bottom of your cold/flu problems. In other words, as a natural antiviral, it won’t simply mask your symptoms, and it won’t be concerned with symptomatic relief. Instead, it attacks the cold infection at its source. Add to that, it comes with anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, and antiseptic properties, plus encourages perspiration. For an added bonus, ginger contains sesquiterpenes, and these little fighters specifically work to attack rhinoviruses. As you can see, with ginger, you’ve got yourself quite a handy, inexpensive little warrior to help you battle your cold/flu.
Ginger functions as a vasodialator, which means it creates heat, slightly elevating the temperature of your body. Please be aware, that because this root is powerful in so many ways, don’t overdo it. As humans we have a tendency to think that if one of a thing is good, then three of a thing must be better. Not so. Overdoing it with ginger detox baths, especially in your weakened state, can result in slight dizziness, skin redness, a feeling of being restless as well as suffering from insomnia. For overall health and wellness, moderation is the key.
When it comes to making your own ginger bath, know that you can use powdered or fresh ginger. Most people simply add a teaspoon of powdered ginger to their bath, or up to 1/2 cup of fresh, grated ginger. Personally, placing ginger root in a blender with some water and whizzing it up seems a bit better than grating it.
- 1 Cup Epsom salts
- 3 Tablespoons powdered ginger
- 1/4 Cup baking soda (optional)
Epsom Detox Bath Recipe
Approximately 400 years ago, a farmer in England was going about his daily chores and accidentally stumbled upon Epsom salts, and we know the rest. While Epsom salts look somewhat like regular table salt they are different in composition. Epsom salts are composed of magnesium and sulfate instead of sodium. Hence, ever since this discover, people have used Epsom salts to help relieve skin irritations and soothe minor injuries. This is all well and good, but does it really work?
According to a 2004 study by Dr. R.H. Waring of the School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, it was found that “prolonged soaking in Epsom salts therefore increases the blood magnesium concentrations”. Sulfate levels also increased. As such, the study concluded that soaking in Epsom salts can be used to increase an individuals magnesium and sulfate levels.
- 1 Cup Epsom salt
- 1/2 Cup Sea salt
- 1/2 Cup baking soda
- 16 drops of essential oil, organic if possible:
- 6 drops of Lavender oil
- 4 drops of Eucalyptus oil
- 6 drops of Tea Tree oil
Tea tree oil has been known for centuries for it’s anti bacterial and anti viral properties, so is an essential ingredient for this detox bath. The eucalyptus oil is added to help alleviate chest congestion, and the lavender oil works to relax your aching muscles.
Tips for Creating the Best Detox Bathing Experience
It’s time to take your detox bath. If this is your first attempt, we’ve included a few tips to help you get off to a good start. As always, please consult with your physician if you are on any medications, pregnant or nursing. Do not do a detox bath for a child until you speak with your pediatrician first.
To begin with, simply fill the tub with enough warm water that your entire body will be submerged, up to the neck. Since you’re already weak from the cold/flu, please keep the water warm and not hot. After all, you are already suffering from a fever, and in such a weakened state, an extremely hot bath might cause you to pass out.
As the purpose of these baths are to help remove toxins from your system, while easing overall body soreness, it’s important to set aside some “me time”. Choose a time of the day where you won’t be interrupted, and tell others in the household not to disturb you. While soaking time varies, we recommend that you allow yourself to soak for 40 minutes to 1 hour. This will give your body sufficient time to relax, as well as absorb important minerals, such as magnesium sulfate, through the skin.
The Importance of Using a Shower Filter
Tap water is filled with impurities, so it only makes sense that you use a high quality shower filter to remove impurities and chlorine from your bath water. Remember, you’re performing this detox bath in order to alleviate cold and flu symptoms, detox and relax your body, so adding these ingredients into a tub filled with impure water does not make much sense.
Dry Brushing Your Skin
Consider gently exfoliating your skin with a soft, skin exfoliating brush before you hop in the tub. When you remove the top layer of dead, epidermal cells from your skin, you automatically increase the absorption rate of the minerals in a detox bath. Dry brushing also helps circulate your lymph, which cannot circulate on its own, instead requiring stimulation such as exercise or massage.
However, when you’re not well, movement is out of the question, so here is where dry brushing helps. Right beneath your skin exists a network of lymph vessels. When you dry brush before a detox bath, you are not only removing dead cells to promote absorption of minerals, you’re giving your lymph fluid a little push to get the fluid moving.
Maintaining Proper Hydration
Make certain that you are well hydrated before, during and after your bath. It is strongly recommended that you intake one full glass of room-temperature water, juice or coconut water before your bath. Coconut water is an excellent choice, plus it is loaded with potassium and minerals. Remember you are in a weakened condition, so sip some liquid as you soak as well. Finally, when you emerge from your tub, drink just a little bit more, then go lie down and take a nice, well-deserved rest.
Massaging Your Lymph Nodes
We all know about the circulatory system and its importance for our survival, but surprisingly very few know about the lymphatic system. It’s the lymphatic system that rids your body of toxins, and it does so by using lymph. Lymph is the fluid which contains your white blood cells. There is one catch however: The heart does not pump lymph. In fact, the only way lymph will move through your body is via physical movement or massage.
Since you’ve a cold, movement is out of the question. However, you can still perform a lymph massage to get the fluid moving. To begin with, search online to find an easy to read chart which lists your body’s lymphatic points. Next, lightly massage each point using a circular motion for around 5 to 10 seconds, avoiding any areas that are injured or bruised.
Contraindications for a Detox Bath
We strongly recommend that you consult with your physician before you engage in any detox bath if you are on medications or have an ongoing illness. Also, consult a physician if your are:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- Currently have open wounds, cuts or deep scrapes
- Faint easily
- Suffer from diabetes
- Have hypertension
Also, please consult with your pediatrician before you give your child a detox bath. Remember the detox recipes given on this page are for healthy adults, so please do not put your child in a tub infused with a full adult-strength detox bath.
How much Epsom Salts Should You Use?
As always, consult with your physician if you are on medications, pregnant or breastfeeding, and please consult with your child’s pediatrician before putting them in any detox bath. First, follow the directions on the package of Epsom salts. But in general, here are the following guidelines:
- Adults 100 pounds and more – 2 cups of Epsom salts
- Children 60 to 100 poiunds – 1 cup
- Children 60 pounds and under – 1/2 cup of Epsom salts
Once you place the Epsom salts in water, the magnesium and sulfate will became active.
Indeed, after just a 1 hour soak in Epsom salts, people notice that muscle aches and inflammation decreases, as their skin becomes softer.
Foods That Help You Get Out of That Cold Slump
Almost any non processed, fresh fruit or vegetable has benefits when it comes to fighting the symptoms of the common cold of flu. The best known are citrus, berries, green leafy vegetables. So we’ve included a few that you might not be that familiar with, such as cranberries or horseradish, as well as the old standby’s like garlic and cayenne pepper.
Cayenne Pepper is loaded with capsaicin. When you add cayenne pepper to foods, drinks or smoothies you’re in effect helping to loosen up your congestion so you can breathe better. Cayenne pepper also has a healthy amount of vitamin A, and actually has been shown to cool the body down when being ingested, so it may be good for fevers.
Here is another one that will work wonders when it comes to congestion, horseradish. When mucus is allowed to accumulate in your sinus’s, it becomes the perfect environment for the birth and growth of bacteria, that can lead to infection. According to research, horseradish has antimicrobial properties to help you when it comes to relieving upper respiratory tract congestion by thinning out the mucous. Once your mucus thins and begins to exit easily, you know that your body is in the process of eliminating toxins. You can either use the root, or simply purchase some horseradish in a jar, smear it on toast with some raw onion, and enjoy the flavorful, healthful benefits.
Garlic, the old standby. It just doesn’t keep vampires away, it can actually help you deal with some of the unpleasantness brought on by cold symptoms. The punch packed by garlic is found in allicin. If you want the full strength of garlic, consider chewing it raw. However, if that’s a bit much, then purchasing some garlic powder and sprinkling it on food, or including it in a green smoothie may help as well.
When most think of cranberry juice, they think of prevention and cure for urinary tract infections. But did you know that cranberry juice is also an excellent addition in the war against the common cold? A National Institutes of Health study concluded that by consuming cranberry products, the bodies yo-T cell count increases, which means the reduction of cold and flu symptoms.
Of course, freshly blended or juiced cranberries are best, but if they’re out of season, simply purchase some cranberry juice. Also, remember that as a last resort, you can empty a can of whole cranberry sauce into a blender with some ginger and a banana and have yourself a nice, potent, energizing cold fighting smoothie.
Your Guide to Essential Oils in Fighting Colds
When it comes to essential oils and fighting colds, most people swear by them. They method of choice is via an essential oil inhaler. Simply follow the directions, and place a few drops in the inhaler to experience some relief for your congestion. Please refrain from using essential oils if you are pregnant, nursing, on medication or for children. As always we strongly recommend seeing a physician if you have questions and concerns.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
This essential oil is said to be the perfect solution when it comes to unclogging your nose naturally. Users also state that it is an excellent expectorant, this may be due to its antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
Cold sufferers will often go to lemongrass essential oil to relieve their aches and pains, as well as reduce their fever. In fact, it’s been used in Ayurvedic medicine for years as a way to help silence fevers.
Ginger Essential Oil
Known for its energizing effects, ginger essential oil is a mainstay in most cold sufferers medicine cabinets. People claim that the benefits of inhaling the essential oil far outweigh simply using a few lozenges.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
This is one of the most powerful essential oils. Tea tree essential oil has antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and has been known to make short work of cold sores as well as stimulate the immune system.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil is the ticket when it comes to relieving congestion. This energizing essential oil has antibacterial properties, and helps to keep your mind clear and free from the brain fog associated with colds and flu.
Delicious and Beneficial: Cold Fighting Beverages
When you have a cold or flu, you must stay hydrated. If you are not hydrated, you risk mucus becoming stagnant, and if mucus becomes stagnant, there harmful bacteria will fester. Not only that, but you risk becoming even more weak and could become dizzy as a result.
If you find your mouth getting a little dry, and your body becomes a little weaker, it may be time to add more fluid to your cold fighting regime. One of the best ways to do that is with coconut water. Coconut water is loaded with electrolytes like potassium, much higher that sports drinks, in fact. Electrolytes are an absolute must, especially if you’ve had diarrhea or have vomited. Add coconut water to your smoothies, drink before, during and after your detox bath.
Whether you are a fan of black or geen teas, know that each cup is full of polyphenols which provide both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions. Tannin is an excellent example of one of the polyphenols. According to a National Institutes of Health study, Tannin’s are packed with anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. Studies have also shown that the polyphenols in tea inhibited the growth of bacteria in your throat. Other teas to try include: Ginger tea, hibiscus tea and Echinacea tea.
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda Drink
We already know you’ll not be drinking this for the taste, but the benefits claimed by those who do, far outweigh the momentary unpleasantness. Simply take 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and mix it with 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar, such as Braggs. Next, add this mixture to a large glass or liter of water. It’s potent, so make certain you dilute it, please.
There’s nothing like a delicious, frosty and fruity smoothie. They are the perfect complement to an enriching breakfast, an after-workout boost, and can even offer you some relief during your cold.
What’s nice about a smoothie, is that they are super easy to prepare. All you need to do for a simple cold fighting smoothie is to take a banana or two, some ginger, and add your favorite liquid. You’ll find that adding orange juice or coconut water increases hydration as well as raises your potassium level. See? It’s that simple. But just in case you’re looking for a cold fighting smoothie with a little more pizzazz, read on.
Banana Ginger Smoothie
- 1 or 2 bananas
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
- Coconut water or juice
The hot toddy hails from Scotland, where the winters can get particularly chilly. The hot toddy is a delicious, warm and relaxing drink. However, please remember this is just a treat to warm you up. Alcohol dehydrates you, and that’s not what you want when you have a cold.
Ginger Hot Toddy
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 2 Tablespoons whisky
- 1 slice of lemon
- 3 slices of fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon powdered
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- Place the above ingredients in your favorite mug, add boiling water and stir.
Beneficial Supplements To Consider
For those of you who usually add supplements to your everyday diet, we’ve included a few that are supposed to help cold sufferers. While none of the supplements effects are supported by solid research, people purchase them as they believe they make them feel better. So, whether real or a placebo effect, if it works, can’t hurt to try it.
While the jury is still out on Echinacea, or Echinacea purpurea, many cold suffers swear by its healing properties, stating that it eases their symptoms, while shortening the length of the cold.
North American Ginseng works best if taken during the cold and flu season. Those who partake in it, state that they feel much better, and heal quicker.
No real evidence here, but it is thought that this supplement works by preventing flu viruses from multiplying.
Zinc is an old standby that has been used for many years. If taken during the cold season, or at the direct onset of the cold, sufferers state that they feel better. However, there is no real evidence it can cure a cold. So it can’t hurt to take a zinc lozenge or two, but never overdo it.
Some Unusual Methods to Help You Fight the Cold
We’re almost at the end of our journey into some of the best natural cold and flu fighting remedies. Our last stop will include some of the more non-conventional remedies around. These are little known to most people, but some, such as watching a funny movie or video, actually are backed by solid research.
Be Gentle on the Blow
Remember to blow your nose in a nice, gentle fashion. According researchers from the University of Virginia, when you blow your nose hard, you risk shoving all of that poisoned mucus deeper into your sinuses. Basically, the harder you blow, the higher the pressure, and deeper goes the mucus. Dr. Bill Schaffner states that simply blowing out the front of your nose is the best option, especially if you are using a humidifier, or in the shower.
Did you know that the simple act of listening to soothing environmental music has been shown to boost your immune system? Research has shown that after listening to just 30 minutes of soothing music, the bodies IgA levels increase. IgA is known as immunoglobulin A and functions to fight illnesses such as the cold. Environmental music is any easy listening music that blends sounds found in nature with soft, relaxing instrumental music.
Watch Your Favorite Comedy
So whether it’s the Marx brothers or the latest cat videos on youtube, whatever makes you laugh, will make you stronger. Laughing ramps up your immune system, while lowering your cortisol levels. So prop up those pillows, snuggle under those covers and watch something that will tickle your funny bone.
Snuggle up with your furry friends
Being healthy is more than just the food you eat or the products you use – More than anything, it’s often a state of mind. Spending time snuggling and bonding with your fur babies can drastically improve your mood, outlook and general state of mind. Pet owners enjoy lower cholesterol, less depression, stress, anxiety and a whole list of other health benefits! Placebo effect or not, the effects are still very real. It all really comes down to this: Anything you can do to boost your mood, make you smile or reduce stress will have a measurable impact on your road to recovery 🙂
So, there you have it, some of the best, natural cold and flu remedies available. While there is no cure for the common cold, it is within our power to ease up on the symptoms just a bit. For instance, you can wake up to a delicious, energizing smoothie, lay back and watch some of your favorite videos, or nap to some relaxing, environmental music. Before bed, take a nice, soothing dip into a detox bath, finishing it all off with a delicious, hot toddy. Never overdo on any natural remedy, and if your symptoms do not improve or worsen, please see your doctor. Also, under no circumstances should you give your child natural remedies unless under the advisement of their pediatrician.