Feeling congestion, aches, and an itchy throat isn’t fun especially during this time of the year. Here’s are 10 natural cold and flu remedies to nix those symptoms and more so that you can feel your best!
Does your nose start running as soon as you step outside? That’s actually a good thing! University of North Carolina researchers say a brisk 10-minute outdoor walk opens and drains your sinuses more quickly and effectively than Sudafed — and daily jaunts will cut the length of time you’re ill by 57 percent! The combination of cold air and exercise prompts the release of adrenaline, a hormone that reduces sinus inflammation and swelling, plus revs the production of immune cells.
2. Can’t shake a cold?
Spend some time puttering around your yard around noon — it does you a world of good. That’s because spending 30 minutes outside daily can cut your symptom severity in half, plus trim four days off your recovery time, British studies suggest. Explains Michele Antonelli, MD, daily exposure to sunlight and fresh air significantly reduces your production of the immunity-weakening stress hormone, cortisol.
“A steamy shower can open sinuses, reduce airway inflammation and relieve congestion,” says Jordan Josephson, MD, author of Sinus Relief Now. To boost the benefits and cut recovery time by up to 75 percent, put 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil on a washcloth in the shower. Stanford University researchers say its aromatic compounds act as natural decongestants.
4. Sinus pressure?
To ease sinus congestion in just one minute, try this acupressure trick: First, push your tongue against the roof of your mouth for two seconds, then relax your tongue and use your index finger to press firmly between your eyebrows for two seconds; repeat 15 times. UCLA researchers say this motion gently moves the small, thin bone that sits in the middle of your nasal passage, and that rocking motion opens and drains sinuses.
5. Itchy throat?
If a cold has left your throat feeling dry and scratchy get quick relief with this natural home remedy: Mix 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup of water and gargle for 15 seconds. Repeat each hour as needed. The vinegar’s acetic acid will easily kill off the unwanted bacteria that’s causing the discomfort in your throat.
6. Keep getting sick?
Even better than warding off vampires: This flavorful bulb has been fighting off viruses for centuries! According to a study in the Journal of Immunology Research, adding just one large clove of garlic to your daily diet can cut your risk of colds by 63 percent — plus help you bounce back in half the time if you are under the weather. Study co-author Dan Ortuno, PhD, says garlic is rich in sulfur compounds, the raw materials your body needs to make virus-fighting immune cells.
A coughing fit is no fun when you’re trying to chat. Sweet news: Dark chocolate quiets the hacking 33 percent better than prescription cough suppressant — just one ounce provides relief within two minutes and for up to six hours. Explains neurologist Joseph C. Maroon, MD, cocoa’s healing compounds reduce throat inflammation and calm the irritated throat nerves that trigger coughing.
8. Trouble breathing?
Just using a saline nasal rinse once daily will help you breathe more easily when you’re fighting a cold, and University of Pennsylvania researchers say adding a pinch of baby shampoo could cut recovery time by 60 percent. Credit goes to gentle cleansing compounds, which loosen and flush out mucus, plus quickly dissolve the barrier that germs use to hide from immune cells.
Spoon up Grandma’s chicken soup! Chicken is rich in immunity — boosting zinc, and the veggies deliver hundreds of anti-inflammatory nutrients. No wonder Canadian research shows this comfort food cuts symptoms by 55 percent! Even better: Have it before bed — women who do so drift off 30 minutes sooner and sleep 25 percent more deeply!
10. Feel a cold coming on?
Few things feel better than a pampering foot rub. And it turns out that mini moment of calm bolsters your defenses against colds and viruses too. University of Miami researchers say firmly massaging the soles of your feet for just two minutes stimulates acupressure points that curb stress-hormone production by 25 percent. The result: Your immune system becomes less sluggish so it’s better able to fend off viral invaders
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Save on Healthcare (Buy on Amazon, $12.99).