tips for clearing up the common cold

Getting a cold is no fun. You’re miserable, achy, tired, and congested. While you can’t cure the common cold, there are several natural remedies that can help to reduce symptoms and speed the recovery process. Below are the ones that I’ve found to be most effective.

REST: Don’t underestimate the power of rest. Get as much as possible! Rest is essential for recovery from ANY illness.

WASH YOUR HANDS: Do this often as it will help you to avoid contracting another virus. It will also help to ensure you don’t contaminate others in your home or immediate environment.

CONSUME FRESH GINGER ROOT: Ginger is excellent for expelling pathogens when you are sick. Ginger’s pungent nature helps to relieve congestion. Here are two versions of fresh ginger tea. They are both delicious, therapeutic and soothing.

1. Ginger Root and Scallion Tea: Take 1″ piece of fresh ginger root and 5 scallions and simmer for 10 minutes in 1 and ½ cups of water. This may sound like a weird and unpleasant decoction, but it is surprisingly delicious and soothing. You can add ½ to 1 tsp. honey to taste, if you like. This tea is especially beneficial when you are first coming down with a cold. Sip this tea throughout the initial stages (1-2 days) of a cold.

2. Ginger Root, Cinnamon and Lemongrass Tea: Take 1″ piece of fresh ginger root, ¼ tsp cinnamon and one stalk lemon grass cut into 2″ pieces; simmer in 1 and ½ cups water for 10 – 15 min. You can add a touch of honey to taste. Drink a cup of this soothing tea 3 times/day when you have a cold.

AVOID ORANGE JUICE: Contrary to popular belief, orange juice should be avoided when you have a cold. It’s true that orange juice contains vitamin C which is good for you. However, orange juice is more than just a collection of micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, etc.). It is composed of a variety of other characteristics including thermal and energetic properties (both cold and damp) which tend to exacerbate the production of phlegm. Therefore, it should be avoided when you have a cold.

EAT LIGHT, SIMPLE, WARM FOODS: Light, clear foods like homemade chicken or vegetable broth are ideal when you are sick. I recommend making or buying some in advance and freezing it so you have it on hand if you get sick. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months and in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

To boost the therapeutic effects of your broth, you can add cooked scallions, leeks and greens. Scallions and leeks have a pungent quality that will help clear pathogens from your body. Greens, such as kale and chard, have a bitter quality which will dry phlegm and help relieve congestion.

AVOID DAIRY, SUGAR, CAFFEINE and ALCOHOL: Dairy is phlegm producing. Sugar, caffeine and alcohol are taxing on the body and will interfere with your healing process.

DRINK PLENTY OF HOT LIQUIDS: In general, when you are sick, it’s best to drink plenty of hot liquids, even if you have a sore throat and cold seems soothing. Hot water, in particular, is easy on the digestion and will help to loosen congestion, prevent dehydration and flush impurities from your body.

ACUPUNCTURE AND CUPPING: Besides proactive wellness treatments, the best time to get an acupuncture and cupping treatment is when you first get sick. These treatments are excellent for relieving discomfort such as headaches, body-aches, stiffness, painful throat and congestion. There’s no point in suffering if you don’t have to!

GARGLE WITH SALT WATER AND TURMERIC: Gargling with salt water loosens excess mucus and removes bacteria from the throat. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and will help soothe your sore throat. Dissolve ¼ tsp each of salt and turmeric powder in ½ cup of hot water. When it has cooled enough to tolerate, gargle and spit. The salt/turmeric water should be as warm as you can comfortably tolerate without burning your throat. Gargle three times daily until your throat feels better.

EUCALYPTUS STEAM: Inhaling steam that has been infused with eucalyptus oil will help to reduce sinus and lung congestion. Put 4-5 drops of eucalyptus oil in a large bowl. Add boiling water and lean over the bowl. Cover your head with a towel to trap the steam and inhale deeply for 5-10 minutes. Repeat twice a day. The steam will open up your nasal passages so you can breathe better.

HERBAL MEDICINE: The right herbs can be tremendously helpful in reducing symptoms and enhancing recovery time. The wrong ones will make your condition worse. It is best to consult with a qualified practitioner when selecting herbal formulas.

To Your Health,

Sandra Ludlow LAc, MSOM
Acupuncture and Holistic Medicine Inc.
1283 Gilman Street,
Berkeley CA 94706