7 Natural Cold-Busters

Integrative Medicine Doctor By Aviva Romm, M.D.
Integrative Medicine Doctor
Aviva Romm, M.D. is both a midwife and an Internal Medicine and Board Certified Family Physician with specialties in Integrative Gynecology, Obstetric and Pediatrics, with a focus on women’s endocrinology.

Uh oh. You know the symptoms. You’ve got a cold. Or worse, the flu. Actually, most of the time when people think they have the flu, it’s just a really bad cold.

For the most part, knowing which you have doesn’t make that much difference, especially since we now know that Tamiflu, the most commonly prescribed flu drug, not work very well.

What's worse is that it has multiple side effects that the company that producers the drug hid from consumers, doctors, and even the World Health Organization!

So what do you do?

Well, the old standbys such as ibuprofen and Tylenol can certainly help alleviate some of your aches and pains, and even your chills and sore throat. Taken just for a few days at the proper dose, these are really quite safe.

But we know that Tylenol taken excessively is one of the leading causes of liver damage in the developed world, and ibuprofen, taken even for only five days in a row, has been known to cause stomach bleeding.

And cough medicines really aren’t that good for you, either!

The following natural medicines can help you kick those winter cold symptoms right back to the North Pole! And they boost your immune system, so they actually benefit you. (And you don’t have to worry about liver damage and stomach problems!)

Here are my 7 favorites. You can pick one or two, but I recommend a combination of at least two of the herbal preparations, along with the vitamin supplements.

1. Garlic Lemonade

Ok, here’s a recipe you might think sounds kinda weird, but it tastes so good that when my kids were little they’d even ask for it when they weren’t sick!

To prepare chop 3 cloves of garlic, place into a quart sized mason jar, and cover with boiling water. Let this sit for 15 minutes, then add lemon and honey to taste.

Drink hot, up to 4 cups/day. This is safe for kids over 2 years old and for pregnant women, too. It can be used to treat cold symptoms and prevent colds and flu, too.

2. Thyme-honey tea 

Honey is one of the best medicines we have for treating coughs, and the common garden thyme we use as a seasoning is a terrific antimicrobial herb for upper respiratory infections. Taken together in hot water they can ease your symptoms and speed you on your way to recover.

Per 1 cup of boiling water add 2 teaspoons of good quality honey and ½ teaspoon of thyme tincture (alcohol extract). You can also simply put the honey and thyme tincture into a tablespoon, knock them back, and chase with water.

3. Elderberry Syrup

This is seriously delicious! You’ll just want to lick the spoon. And that’s pretty much all you have to do: take 2 teaspoons every 4 hours.

Elderberry has been shown to prevent and treat upper respiratory infections.

4. Ginger Tea

Ginger fights infections in the upper respiratory system and helps you to break a sweat. It also eases muscle tension.

Make strong ginger tea by steeping 1 tablespoon on fresh grated ginger in 1 cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Cover while steeping then add lemon and honey to Drink hot, up to 4 cups daily.

Miso broth with plenty of fresh grated ginger is also therapeutic.

5. Herbal sweat

Breaking a sweat is an important part of clearing toxins and easing your symptoms. Many folks report that they sleep much better after breaking a sweat. The process of raising your temperature to get the sweat going helps fight off nasty bugs – in fact, that’s exactly why your body mounts a fever. You're helping your body to do its job.

To do an herbal sweat, put 10 drops of any of the following essential oils, or a combination, onto a damp wash rag: Eucalyptus, Lavender, Thyme. Toss the washrag into the shower so that water will hit it when you turn it on. Then turn the faucets on in your bathroom full throttle on hot.

When the room is full of herb ally infused steam, head in and hang out in there until you are breaking a good sweat. To increase this, sip hot ginger tea with lemon. Make sure to keep super well hydrated! After the steam, head to bed and bundle into your blankets for some rest.

6. Use a vapor rub on your chest. 

Vicks is a classic, and is made with camphor and eucalyptus, both herbs with help open up the respiratory passages and east coughing, especially at night. Some folks prefer to use an alternative that is not made with petroleum oil as a base. You can find something similar at the health food store. Use these preparations on your chest, only, not your face or in your humidifier.

7. Zinc

20 to 40 mg/day for teens and adults has been shown to shorten the duration of colds. Start with the lower dose and work your way up over the first day or two. If you’re throat is sore, you can suck on zinc lozenges rather than try to swallow pills.

If you are elderly, pregnant, have asthma, diabetes, or an autoimmune or immunocompromising illness, please see your physician before self-treating with natural medicines.

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