Have a cold? Don't worry—you are definitely not alone. There are millions of cases of the common cold in the United States each year and according to the CDC, the common cold is the No. 1 reason children miss a day of school. And while kids are more likely to catch a cold than adults, us grown-ups aren't immune to the occasional seasonal sniffles either.
As we walk down the cold and flu aisle in the pharmacy, we can be easily seduced by the many different over-the-counter (OTC) options—each promising to relieve even our worst symptoms. However, beware of some scary ingredients that can be lurking in traditional OTC meds like corn syrup, food coloring and dyes, and drugs that have recently come under some scrutiny in terms of their safety and efficacy.
Thankfully, there are plenty of safe, natural remedies—in your kitchen!—that can be super effective against the common cold. Plus, many pharmacy and grocery store aisles now have natural OTC options, like Maty's, that you can buy when there's no time to DIY. Check out our favorite sickness-busting ingredients below:
1. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper is not the first thing that comes to mind to help fight off a cold. However, capsacin, a key ingredient in cayenne pepper, increases the temperature of your body and increases circulation (that's why you often sweat while eating something spicy). An increased body temperature will help you fight off lingering bacteria, while increased circulation can help to loosen and get rid of mucus.
Cloves are a powerful antimicrobial (perfect for squashing that sickness) that have been used for thousands of years in ancient remedies. The spice also has potent antioxidant properties to stabilize and eliminate free radicals in your body, which can build up from everyday things like exposure to pollution, stress, and secondhand smoke.
Eucalyptus is a common ingredient in many common OTC cold and cough treatments. Maty's uses it in their All Natural Vapor Rub to help loosen phlegm and decrease congestion. For a unique way of using their vapor rub, try placing a dime-size amount of rub on your feet and covering them with socks. It's an incredibly soothing way to fall asleep when you're under the weather.
Alternatively, try diffusing some eucalyptus essential oil in the room while you sleep or put a few drops in the tub during a hot shower.
4. Buckwheat honey
Although it sounds like a grain, buckwheat is actually a seed—and it's gluten-free! Buckwheat honey has been shown to help with cough symptoms and improve quality of sleep. Honey also has natural antimicrobial properties to fight whatever bug is making you feel less than great.
We're big fans of Maty's cough syrup (an all-natural option) that relies on buckwheat honey as one of its main cold-fighting ingredients. Bonus: It has 10 whole-food immune-boosting ingredients to get you over your cold and feeling better in no time.
Did you know that most of your immune system is in your gut? It's true! Taking care of our digestion and GI health is an integral part of keeping our overall health in check. We can accomplish this by eating gut-friendly foods like kimchi and yogurt and taking a daily probiotic supplement.
Finally, it's important to remember that the typical cold lasts seven to ten days, which can seem like a lifetime when you are dealing with a sore throat and cough on top of work, family, social obligations, and other responsibilities. Remember to be patient with yourself, get lots of rest, drink a ton of fluids, and rely on food as medicine (using products like Maty's, which incorporate all-natural, immune-boosting ingredients), and you'll be back to 100 percent in no time.