The next time you’re feeling lousy with a cold that is bringing on a scratchy throat, headache and a drippy nose, instead of reaching for one of those over-the-counter meds, try going the natural route. Back-in-the-day, our mothers rarely visited a drugstore; they relied on old tried-and-true folk remedies to heal a run-of-the-mill cold.
We discovered 7 effective but uncommon natural remedies to help you get that common cold out of your system:
Wet socks. According to Leslie Solomonian, ND, an assistant professor of naturopathic medicine at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, putting on a pair of chilled wet socks at night can help get rid of a cold. No joke! Apparently, the cold encourages your body to boost the circulation to your feet and this, in turn, will not only move the congestion from your head but aid in the elimination of toxins. Dr. Solomonian’s suggestion is to soak a pair of socks in cold water, put them on your feet, cover them with a pair of wool or thermal socks, then while in bed, keep your feet in a warm blanket.
Put an onion in your socks. Onions contain allicin which is an infection-fighting compound. The natural antimicrobial also contains sulfur which helps to detoxify the body and purify the blood. While battling a cold, you can add lots of onions to soups or broths. You can even try making an onion tea to help ease your misery. But according to folk remedy, slice a red or white onion into rounds, place them on the soles of your feet and put on a pair of socks to get rid of your cold. Wear the socks overnight and by morning, voilà!
Eat dark chocolate with a little honey. Any excuse to eat chocolate is a welcomed one! If you reach for the sugar-sweetened and milk chocolate, your cold will not budge. Instead, try hot, dark chocolate and sweeten it lightly with honey if you want to help get rid of a cold. Chocolate contains theobromine, a component that suppresses the nerve activity responsible for coughing and has been found to be three times more effective in stopping persistent coughs than codeine.
Listen to some jazz. If you are already a jazz aficionado then you will love this tip! Research has shown that listening to jazz for 30 minutes boosts our levels of Immunoglobulin A (IgA), an immune protein that plays a critical role in defending against infection. The effect of jazz on IgA levels continues for an additional half hour even after the music stops playing. Go figure?
Cayenne pepper tea. If a sinus infection is making you miserable, try this South African tried-and-true sinus-clearer-upper! Add 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper powder, 2 tbsp of honey, one lemon wedge to a cup of boiling water. Sip this tea a few times a day. It is an effective home remedy to treat sinus infections.
Essential oils. Got chest congestion? Essential oils are non-prescription medicines that have been used to treat illness, so it’s no surprise they are effective at loosening and treating chest congestion. Herbs can be drunk as an herbal tea, but also put in a vaporizer, rubbed onto skin through massage, or inhaled from a tissue. Among the best essential oils for chest congestion are eucalyptus, thyme, tea tree, rosemary, cinnamon, basil, and lemongrass. Essential oils help loosen mucus, and many contain antiviral and antibiotic properties that can help prevent a chest infection.
Black pepper and honey. If you have a nagging cough that just won’t quit just look in your kitchen cupboard for some black pepper and honey instead of an OTC cough syrup. The rationale behind the concoction is that black pepper stimulates circulation and mucus flow; honey is a natural cough suppressant and mild antibiotic. To make the tea, place 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of honey in a cup. Fill with boiling water and let steep, cover for 15 minutes.