It’s that time of the year again when the ‘change in weather’ hits us all! Immunity levels suddenly drop, paving the way for cold, cough, flu, and body aches, which hamper our daily activities, work and physical well-being. What exactly is cold? Is there a way to treat this horrible sickness naturally? Let’s find out!
What is Common Cold?
You get a cold when a tiny living thing called a virus gets into your body. There are a hundred different types of viruses that can get you sick. Once a cold virus gets inside you, your immune system – the body’s defense against germs, launches a counter-attack. Your body’s response to the virus sis what brings on the classic symptoms such as cough or a stuffed nose. The common cold is a viral, infectious disease that infects the upper respiratory system. It is also known as Acute Viral Rhinopharyngitis and Acute Coryza.
The viruses that cause common cold are contagious. You can contract them when someone who is infected sneezes, coughs, or shakes your hand. It can be spread by air droplets from coughs and sneezes and by touching infected surfaces. There are over 200 sub-types of viruses that can cause a cold with the Rhinovirus being the most common. Although colds occur more commonly in the winter, they can develop any time of the year. After a couple of weeks, at the most, your immune system fights off the illness and you should stop having symptoms.
Because there are more than 200 viruses that cause common cold, the human body can never build resistance to all of them. This is why colds are so common and often return. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), adults get 2–3 colds per year, and children may have up to 12 per year.
The symptoms of common cold are the body’s reaction to the cold virus. It triggers the release of chemicals, making the blood vessels leak, causing the mucous glands to work harder.
So what’s the solution? With no long-term solution to this issue, the only way is to either avoid it or treat it! Here are natural ways to heal from a cold and flu.
1. Steam Therapy:
Steam therapy is absolutely natural. Our bodies are made up of 50-60% water and steam is just droplets of water. Quite simply put, you are renewing one of your body’s natural biochemical elements.
Steam therapy or steam inhalation, is the method of introducing warm, moist air into the lungs via the nose and throat. The prime benefit of breathing in moist, warm steam is that it may help ease the feeling of irritation and swollen blood vessels in the nasal passages. The moisture may also help thin the mucus in your sinuses, which allows them to empty more easily. This can return your breathing to normal.
Ways to Use Steam Therapy
a. Traditional: Boil a few cups of water, then pour the steaming water into a large bowl. Place gently on a firm flat surface such as a kitchen table. Put a towel over your head to form a ‘tent’. Lean over with your face 15-20cm from the steam and inhale. Eucalyptus Oil, Lavender Oil and Holy Basil Leaves can be added for extra benefit.
b. Shower: Run a hot shower and inhale the steam – you can even use few drops of essential oils to help refresh and revitalize.
c. Personal Inhalers: An easy and portable way to enjoy steam therapy on the go. A great idea for the office or holidays, inhalers are also popular with public speakers, actors and singers to help open up the airways before a performance.
Gargling several times a day with warm salt water can reduce swelling in the throat and loosen mucus. This helps in flushing out irritants or bacteria. Salt water creates a high-salt barrier and pulls out a lot of fluids from the tissues in the throat area. This helps in washing the virus out. The salt functions as a magnet for water. It’s good for symptomatic relief.
It’s best to use pure water because tap water often includes chlorine. One can also add Turmeric juice or powder to have an antiseptic effect. One can gargle every 4 hours if the cough/cold is troublesome.
3. Maintain Hydration Levels
Drinking plenty of fluids is one of the most important things you can do when you have a cold or flu. Because cold and flu symptoms like runny noses and sweating, which often accompanies fever, increase the amount of water your body loses. Dehydration might occur if your fluid intake is not increased to compensate. Keeping your body hydrated also helps loosen mucus in your nose and relieve congestion. Staying hydrated ensures that the body can function properly and can defend itself more effectively against the cold or flu.
When you have a cold or flu, drink a minimum of 2 litres of fluid each day. Drink water or another healthy fluid whenever you are thirsty. Use your thirst as a guide to when and how much you should drink. If you are caring for a child who is over one year, ensure they drink a minimum of 90–120ml of fluid per hour. Babies under one year require at least 30–60ml fluid per hour. Pregnant women should increase their fluid intake to up to 2.50 litres per day.
Try these herbal concoctions:
- Herbal Tea: In a glass of boiling water, add apinch of cinnamon, a few holy basil leaves, crushed ginger and a few crushed black peppercorns. Add honey and drink while hot.
- Carom Seeds Infused Water: Boil Carom Seeds in water. Strain and add Jaggery powder. This helps in relieving cough and congestion.
- Garlic Concoction: Combine 2-4 cloves,chopped garlic and 3-4 slices of fresh ginger with 1 cup of Cover and let it steep for at least 20 minutes. Add honey and lemon to taste. Drink it while it is luke warm.
- Licorice Tea: Boil a 1/2inch piece of licorice + 1/2 tsp grated ginger and 1/2 spoon of cinnamon in 1 cup water for 10 mins. Strain and drink.
- Raw Turmeric Drink: Boil a 1inch piece of raw Turmeric or a 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder for 5 minutes. Add ginger juice/honey and consume.
- Green Tea and Chamomile Tea
- Soups: Vegetable soup/chicken soup/clear soup/chicken broth, lemon coriander soup, garlic spinach soup, tomato fennel soup, veg broth. Ahot bowl of soup helps break up the congestion associated with both colds and the flu. The salt in the soup and its warmth can soothe a sore throat.
Rest is the best treatment! When you have a cold or flu, doctors recommend get plenty of bed rest. When you limit mobility/take rest, your body has more resources to fight off your illness. Your body temperature goes up if you remain very active. Flu and cold organisms replicate at a faster rate when the body gets hotter.Also, if you head to the office when you are sick, the stress of work can make it hard for your body to attack the illness.
Do not over-exert yourself. You can do light intensity workout if you have the energy, your symptoms are mild such as just a runny nose, or if you have been fever free for more than 48 hours.
- Avoid Exercise: When you have fever, body aches, cough, vomiting, diarrhea or chronic health concerns such as asthma /heart diseases.
- Best Exercises: Walking, yoga or a light jog. All these stimulate you to take deep breaths and can help open up clogged passages.
- Worst Exercises: Endurance runs, machines at gym and weight lifting.
Hope this information helps you stay healthy and away from illness this season!
Have a personal remedy of your own? Share it with us in the comments below!