Being sick, even when you’re at home in bed, is not fun. The combination of body aches, fever, chills, and nasal congestion can be enough to make anyone feel terrible.
There are plenty of home remedies that can alleviate the symptoms and get you back to normal.
However, if you have trouble breathing, experience a fast heartbeat, feel weak or have other severe symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
Cold and flu remedies
Chicken soup may not be a cure, but it’s an excellent choice when you’re sick. Research suggests that enjoying a bowl of chicken soup with vegetables can slow the movement of neutrophils in the body.
Neutrophils are a common type of white blood cell. They help protect your body from infection. When they move slowly, they remain concentrated especially in the areas of the body that need healing the most.
Studies have shown that chicken soup has been effective in reducing symptoms of upper respiratory infections in particular. Soup with low salt content also has excellent nutritional value and helps keep you hydrated. It’s a good choice no matter how you feel.
The health benefits of ginger have been known for centuries, but now we have scientific evidence of its healing properties. A few slices of fresh ginger root infused in boiling water can help soothe a cough or sore throat.
Research suggests it can also relieve the nausea that often accompanies the flu. For example, one study found that just 1 gram of ginger can “alleviate clinical nausea of various causes”.
Infuse some ginger tea and start feeling its calming benefits.
Honey has a variety of antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Honey added to lemon tea can ease sore throats. In a study, researchers found that giving children 10 grams of honey before bedtime reduced the severity of cough symptoms.
Children sleep better, which also helps reduce cold symptoms.
You should never give honey to a child younger than 1 year, as honey often contains botulinum spores. Although they are usually harmless to older children and adults, infants’ immune systems are not able to eliminate them.
Garlic contains the compound allicin, which may have antimicrobial properties. Adding a garlic supplement to your diet could reduce the severity of cold symptoms. According to some research, it may even help you avoid getting sick in the first place.
More research is needed on the potential cold-fighting benefits of garlic. However, supplementing garlic into your diet will probably have beneficial effects.
Native Americans have used the green parts and roots of echinacea to treat infections for more than 400 years. The active ingredients of this plant include flavonoids, chemicals that have many therapeutic effects on the body, such as boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation.
Research results on the plant’s effectiveness in fighting the common cold and flu are mixed. But one suggests that taking echinacea can reduce the risk of common cold by more than 50%.
It can also reduce the duration of a cold. If you are a healthy adult, consider taking 1 to 2 grams of echinacea root or green parts in an infusion for up to a week.
Vitamin C plays an important role in your body, with many health benefits. Together with green lemons, oranges, grapefruit, greens and other fruits and vegetables, lemons are a good source of vitamin C. Adding fresh lemon juice to hot tea with honey can reduce the production of phlegm when you are sick. Drinking hot or cold lemonade can also help.
Although these drinks may not eliminate the symptoms of your cold completely, they can help you get the vitamin C your immune system needs. Enough vitamin C can improve upper respiratory tract infections and other illnesses.
Probiotics are ‘friendly’ bacteria and yeasts found in our bodies, in some foods and supplements. They can help maintain the gut health and the immune system, and research shows that probiotics can reduce your chances of getting an upper respiratory infection.
For a delicious and nutritious source of helpful bacteria, include probiotic yoghurt in your diet. As well as having potential benefits for the immune system, yoghurt is a healthy snack that provides a high amount of protein and calcium. Look for products that have live bacteria listed on their label.
Gargling with salt water can help prevent upper respiratory infections and decrease the severity of cold symptoms. For example, it can relieve sore throats and nasal congestion.
Gargling with salt water reduces and destroys mucus, which contains bacteria and allergens. To try this home remedy, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water. Swish the mixture around your mouth and throat, then spit it out.
You may not like the smell, but some old-fashioned topical ointments can reduce cold symptoms in children older than 2.
Just one or two applications before bedtime can help open the airways to fight congestion, reduce coughing and improve sleep.
Decongestant ointments are favored by some doctors who encourage parents to avoid giving over-the-counter cold medicines to young children because of unwanted side effects.
Flu thrives and spreads more easily in dry environments. Increasing humidity in the home can reduce exposure to this flu-causing virus.
Increased humidity can also reduce nasal inflammation, making it easier to breathe when you are sick. Temporarily placing a cool mist humidifier to your bedroom can help you feel more comfortable.
This is especially true in winter when the dry heat inside your home can exacerbate symptoms. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil might also help to stimulate your breathing.
Remember that the water used in humidifiers should be changed daily to prevent the growth of mold and other fungi. To get the same effect without a humidifier, take a long shower or sit in a steam bath.
Sometimes you can reduce fever with a hot bath. Hot baths can also reduce cold and flu symptoms in adults.
Adding salt and baking soda to the water can reduce body aches. Adding a few drops of essential oil, such as tea tree, juniper, rosemary, thyme, orange, lavender, or eucalyptus, can also have a soothing effect.