It can be hard to avoid a run-in with the common cold or its nastier cousin, the flu, before winter’s out…especially if you work in a school, office or other closed-in environments that can be an incubator for germs. Even bolstering your immune system by taking your vitamins and supplements, eating right, getting enough sleep and generally staying in good shape, it can still sneak up on you before the winter’s out. So … once a cold comes to roost, here are a few ideas for getting it to pack its bags and get on down the road so you can get on with your life:
- Get plenty of fluids – Yes, you’ve heard that before, but there’s a good reason for it. Your immune system triggers the production of more mucus, in an effort to flush the bad stuff out of your system. The more you can flood your system with warm liquids like herbal teas or soup broth, the more you can thin the mucus and get it out of there. Steam is especially helpful, in the form of a hot shower; even better, bring a pot of water to a boil, cover your head with a towel, and inhale as much steam as you can without burning yourself. A handful of antimicrobial, decongesting herbs in the boiling water can be an even bigger help (eucalyptus, thyme, peppermint, rosemary).
- Vitamins and Minerals – The jury is still out on megadoses of Vitamin C, once the cold has already got a grip on you. Some studies seem to indicate that people who dose up on Vitamin C tend to shake the cold sooner…however, remember that the vitamin is more easily assimilated from C-rich foods like chile peppers, citrus fruit, strawberries or greens than from pills. Zinc is another supplement with mixed results…some patients have reported good results, despite the weird taste and occasional nausea from zinc lozenges.
- Herbal Comfort – Echinacea has been shown to help lessen the severity of symptoms, especially if you begin taking it at the onset of the cold. A wise dosage is two droppers full of Echinacea tincture in a glass of water, every two hours. Others suggest a teaspoon of Echinacea tincture, three times a day. Andrographis, elderberry, licorice root and ginseng have also all been shown to bump up your immune system and help alleviate the worst of cold symptoms, as well as shortening the duration of the misery.