Wintertime sure is the season of sickness, whether you are in the snowy midwest or sunny California. The change in season sure accompanied by bugs and viruses, but the cold temperatures aren’t entirely to blame. The common cold rhinovirus is not caused by the cold. Rather, what we do when it gets cold is the cause.
Chilly weather draws people indoors, building air is recycled, and viruses or bugs are circulated between people in close proximity–whether it is in the workplace, classroom, or gym. Essentially, we are all sneezing, sniffling, and coughing on each other through shared air or items.
Not to fear! While it may seem impossible to avoid, there are so many ways to naturally boost your immunity– or if you’ve already come down with something, to ease the symptoms while you recover. Although no one cure kills off all strains of cold viruses, your best bet is to incorporate immunity boosting preventative methods to decrease your susceptibility to the cold.
Let your body’s immune system serves as a front line defense against the nagging cold virus, or flu bug, try using these natural remedies to ease your symptoms. A pocket-full of Ricola sure isn’t the only way to suppress the sniffles, sneezes, and sore throats.
Home Remedies & Natural Relief:
Turmeric Tea: For sore throats, cough, mucous, and inflammation.
A natural expectorant and anti-inflammatory, turmeric has been used for hundreds of years as an Ayurvedic and home-remedy for a variety of illnesses and symptoms. It is common in ancient Chinese herbal medicine as well as in the Indian tradition, where it is used in curries, lentil soups, and this magical tea.
For first-timers, mind you that turmeric is very potent. It might make you gag at first but I advise you to take it in small portions like a shot. Alternatively, you can use a straw to avoid tasting it and just get it to line your throat mucosa! Remember you can rinse out your mouth after, but try not to drink anything for at least 30-45 minutes after to ensure the turmeric is coating your throat lining and doing its work. Drink the tea 2-3 times a day, or as needed for at least 3 days while symptoms are present. You can even drink this once a day just to boost your immunity!
Turmeric contains many anti-oxidants that help fight free radicals in your body–this is especially important after heavy exercise when lots of free radicals that have been released during metabolism are floating around in the body. It may also help with those who suffer from arthritic pain due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. Unlike anti-inflammatory drugs which can be toxic to your system when used continuously, turmeric is a natural and safe method of healing.
- A mug full of hot water, milk, or milk substitute
- 1-2 teaspoons of dried turmeric powder (more the better, as long as you can handle it!)
- A pinch of salt (optional)
- 2 cloves
- 1 teaspoon dried ginger
Brew all ingredients together and dissolve. Drink it down while trying not to taste it!
Cold Buster Tea: Cold, cough, sneezes, and sniffles be gone!
This tea is a soothing and warming remedy for congested airways and related common cold symptoms. The key kicker here is the cayenne. The capsaicin in cayenne helps stimulate the circulatory system, regulates blood sugar, and aids with indigestion. By increasing your body temperature, cayenne also helps increase metabolism. It is better too drink cayenne tea rather than taking menthol cough drops. Cough drops actually dry out your throat and paralyze the cilia hairs in your throat and airways (which normally help kick mucous up and out of your throat).
- Echinacea tea
- 1 tsp dried ginger powder
- 1/2 tsp dried cayenne powder (if you have a really sensitive stomach, you may want to hold the cayenne, or only add a little bit; however, this is a key cold-busting ingredient capsaicin)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp agave nectar or stevia (to sweeten–skip if you have a lot of mucous, glucose rich ingredients can increase it)
Simply brew the tea and add in remaining ingredients. Stir and sip!
Essential steam: Chest, sinus, and nasal congestion relief
Aroma therapy is a great relaxation technique used in spas all the time. This treatment combines the relaxation with added natural ingredients to help relieve congestion so that you can finally breathe from your nose! Additionally, it helps hydrate dry skin and open up your pores for a smooth and beautiful complexion.
- a large pot of water
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp ginger
- a few drops of tea tree oil (optional) or you can add a small clump of Vicks balm
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- a few pods of cardamom or lavender sprigs
- a clean towel
Place all ingredients (except the towel!) into the large pot of water and bring to boil while covered with a lid. Transfer pot to a dining table of comfortable height and remove lid. Drape towel over your head and over the pot as you lean in. Take slow deep breaths in and out through both your nose and mouth. Relax and enjoy the aromatherapy while these natural herbs and spices open up your passages.
Warm Chest Compression: Chest congestion and aches
This is a comforting remedy my mother used to do when we were children and were having trouble falling asleep. It is best done with help from a family member or loved one.
Crumple up a clean kitchen towel.Warm a skillet or pan on high heat. Hold the kitchen towel clump on the pan, to warm the towel–be careful not to make it too hot or it may burn/irritate the skin! Press onto the chest firmly for 10-15 seconds around and below the “V” of the collar bones and along the sternum. Repeat as needed.
Water: Drink lots of water and stay hydrated during the dry season! Water is necessary for your cells to function and for energy. Depending on your size, drink an average of 8-10 glasses a day. Personally, I have found a miracle water bottle that has gotten me addicted to drinking water: the CamelBak Chute. Because the water pours out fast from the ergonomic spout, I drink a lot more water each time I take a sip. The 1-L size is perfect and the larger second opening makes it easy to refill.
Chocolate: Yes, chocolate–you read that right! Not only is chocolate a great mood booster, but raw cacao is high in antioxidants. So take a bite of heaven with ALOHA’s vegan chocolate bar that blends in some superfood greens!
Probiotics: Keep your gut bacteria healthy and strong by eating or drinking foods high in probiotics, like yogurt, kefir, or kombucha. This will keep your intestinal tract free of bad germs and help digestion.
High Fiber Foods: Oatmeal is a great way to start your day in the morning. Not only is it super filling, but it is high in beta-glucan fiber. This type of fiber has antioxidant properties that help boost immunity. Opt for natural rolled oats or steel cut oats rather than “instant Quaker packets” which add sugar and processed ingredients. Instead, top your oatmeal with bananas, berries, almond butter, chia seeds, nuts, dried fruit, cooked quinoa, and flax meal for optimal nutrition!
Antioxidants: Along with vitamins containing antioxidant properties described below, snack up on superfoods like acai, blueberries, and blackberries that are very high in antioxidants. My favorite thing to do is make acai bowls using Sambazon unsweetened acai puree. Alternatively, you can use acai powder. Blend puree or powder with more berries, banana, and a splash of nut/coconut milk. Pour into a bowl and top with more superfood ingredients (goji berries!) and fruit. You can also add some greens into your smoothie bowl with ALOHA Daily Greens–a vegan whole food powder!
Vitamin C: Kiwis, oranges, mango, papaya, pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, yellow/red bell peppers, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, peas, and tomatoes are all very high in Vitamin C! Make sure you are meeting your daily dose of vitamin C through incorporating these ingredients into your meals.
Vitamin B6: This vitamin helps make antibody soldiers for your body to fight diseases. So make some hummus!!!! Garbanzo and chick peas are really high in Vitamin B6, so why not make a bowl of healthy hummus with some tahini? Skip the garlic in traditional recipes and opt for roasted red peppers, oregano, and zaatar for more flavor and nutrients.
Vitamin B12: B12 is necessary for cellular energy and a healthy nervous system. Often, vegetarians and vegans may find themselves deficient in this vitamin. For those seeking a vegetarian/vegan friendly B12 supplement, try this. Use as directed. Those who consume dairy can obtain B12 from milk, yogurt, and vegetarian cheeses (animal rennet-free).
Vitamin D: Simply spending time outdoors will help you absorb Vitamin D from our glorious sunshine! However, during the winter, some areas don’t see as much sunshine. Vitamin D helps with cell and bone growth, immunity, and anti-inflammation. So along with that turmeric tea, get some Vitamin D from fortified whole grain cereals, milks (almond, soy, or cow’s milk), yogurts, or vegetarian cheeses.
Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is very important for immunity. Sunflower seeds are extremely high in vitamin E and can add a nice crunch to your salad. Other sources include almonds, spinach, avocado, peanuts, swiss chard, and mustard greens.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: These super healthy fatty acids are inflammation fighters and brain boosters. Add a spoon of chia seeds or flax meal to your smoothies, truffles, oatmeal, pancakes, or baking to get a dose of omega-3’s. Green veggies and nuts also contain omega-3’s.
Riboflavin (B2): Another great disease fighting anti-oxidant, riboflavin is found in vegetarian cheeses, almonds, sesame seeds, and spinach.
Zinc: Zinc plays a role in the immune system, especially with the cold virus. Legumes, grains, spinach, broccoli, kale, nuts, and seeds all contain zinc.
Exercise: Keeping your body active is essential for long term health. Diet alone will not be enough to keep your body healthy, especially when it comes to cardiovascular health and weight management. Choose the right exercise program for you, and stay active. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum 30 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity, 3 times/week for healthy adults. Examples of aerobic activity include running, Zumba, dance, jogging, cycling, swimming, hiking, and skiing. Cardiovascular adaptations take at least 3 months of this type of exercise routine to be noticed; so don’t be discouraged when starting an exercise program, your body takes time!
Lucky for us, California winters aren’t that bad–
sorry “Snowmageddon” friends 🙂