written by contributor Krissa Jeldy of More Than Mundane.
It’s that time of year. The common cold and flu are making their rounds. Of course, prevention is key, but in the case you do get sick, it’s helpful to have some natural home remedies to ease your symptoms.
Why Use Home Remedies?
Effectiveness. Many OTC medications simply mask the symptoms, while home remedies work to heal your body and at the same time provide relief from the uncomfortable symptoms.
Safety. Many OTC medications are not safe for children, and in fact, the FDA recommends that parents not give any cough and cold medicine to children under age 2.
Convenience. Many home remedies are things you are likely to have around your home already, which saves you from having to run to the store when you’re feeling under the weather.
- Eucalyptus Steam. Fill a sink or large bowl with steaming water and drop a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil in the water. Lean over the sink or bowl, covering your head with a towel and breathe in the steam. For young children, you can simply turn on a hot shower in a small bathroom and allow the room to fill with steam, then sit with them in the steamy room.
- Homemade “Vapo” Rub. Add a drop or two of eucalyptus essential oil to 1-2 teaspoons of a carrier oil. Rub this mixture on your chest, bottoms of your feet, and even under your nose.
- Humidifier. Use a humidifier at night to keep the air moist. You can also add some eucalyptus essential oil to some models, but check your manual first.
- Stay Well Hydrated. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day. Clear broths and soups are especially good too, as well as herbal teas. Avoid drinks with caffeine because they can dehydrate you.
- Apply warm compresses to your sinuses if you’re having trouble breathing through your nose.
- Elevate your head with a few extra pillows at night to help you breathe better throughout the night. For young children, roll some towels or place pillows under the head of the mattress to elevate that end of the bed.
- Honey. Take a teaspoon of honey straight, or make some herbal tea and add honey. You can also add a squeeze of lemon to a spoonful of honey for some extra Vitamin C. My kids love getting honey when they have a cough or sore throat. Be sure not to give honey to children under one though.
- Salt Water Gargle. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in warm water and gargle four times a day.
- Garlic. Raw garlic is best if you can stomach it. I sometimes mix raw garlic into a spoonful of honey, which helps it go down easier and I get the benefits of both honey and garlic. If raw garlic is not an option, load up some soup with garlic and eat that.
- Try a Neti Pot or make your own salt water rinse. Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in 8 ounces of warm water and use a bulb syringe to squirt the salt water mixture into one nostril at a time, while plugging the other nostril.
- Use a menthol salve under your nose both to help you breathe easier, and to relieve irritated, raw skin. You can make your own salve by heating a cup of oil such as olive oil or coconut oil (or a mix,) and 1/4 cup beeswax in a double-boiler over low heat until the beeswax is melted. Then pour into containers and add 10-20 drops eucalyptus essential oil while it is still warm. Once the salve cools and thickens, if you want to adjust the thickness of the salve, simply heat it again and add more beeswax. You can also experiment with adding other essential oils, such as lavender.
- Onions Beside the Bed. Cut up an onion and place it by your bed at night to relieve congestion, stuffy nose, and ease a sore throat.
A fever means your body is fighting infection, so as long as it doesn’t get too high, allow the fever to run its course while making sure to monitor your temperature closely.
- Drink lots of fluids. To avoid dehydration, be sure to drink lots of water, clear broths and soups until the fever passes. This helps flush toxins out of your body as well.
- Tepid Sponge Bath. Fill a sink or basin with lukewarm water, and use a washcloth to gently wipe over the body. (I have very unpleasant childhood memories of being awakened in the middle of the night to tepid sponge baths, but I’m thankful now that my parents were taking such good care of me!) When you have a fever, even tepid water will feel cold, so have someone without a fever help you get the temperature of the water right.
- Garlic. Not only is garlic great for boosting your immune system, but it can also help fight a fever. Try a garlic poultice for kids if they aren’t willing to eat garlic straight. It is also helpful for congestion and coughs.
- Allow your body to release heat. Although it can be tempting to bundle up when your body is chilled from a fever, try to just use a light weight blanket or something that will still allow heat to escape.
And of course, always remember to get lots of rest and sleep so your immune system can fight off the sickness.
What is your best tried and true home remedy?