Clearing the Common Cold:
January and February tend to be the worst cold and flu season months of the year. This year the Influenza strand has seemed to mutated according to the CDC and it’s affecting more people than usual despite getting vaccinated. I can’t stress enough that most “colds” are viral and DO NOT need antibiotics. If a cold has been going on for more than 10 days or you are experiencing fevers, chills, body aches,excessive coughing, shortness of breath or other symptoms, you need to make you way to your doctor. Please be sure to be extra cautious with your elderly family members and your little ones. However, the majority of the time what you’re experiencing is just “the common cold.” Here are some things you are try at home if you don’t have the above symptoms. Please be sure you discuss these with your primary care doctor.
Wash your hands
No health care professional will ever get tired of letting you know to wash your hands. I’m personally not a fan of anti-bacterial gels, lotions, etc because of the triclosan in there disrupting our thyroid hormones and liver metabolism. However, when I can’t make it to a sink, I will use it. The best thing way to avoid germs is to always wash hands. This is a good habbit to get your little one into at a very early age
Your body was probably begging for some R&R. Most people tend to get “sick” during stressful times, when they’re traveling, during stressful events because they’re not getting enough sleep. The more your body gets rest, the better your immune system will work for you. When you do have a cold, take some time off to just get some shut eye.
Drain the Sinuses
There’s a massage I enjoy doing on myself as well as enjoy having someone do on me called sinus effleurage. It’s a massage that osteopathic physicians do and it’s great for clearing the sinuses out and helping them drain. This also works great for kids and they’ll appreciate it. You start by gently massaging your maxillary sinuses (besides your nose) and move upward. This also helps defy gravity, who doesn’t love that! You then make your way to the frontal sinus (forehead) and massage all the way around there and around your eyes for about 5 min. You will watch your nose drain.
Rinse your Nose
I love using the netti pot when I have a cold and so do many of my patients. Doing this 2-3 times a day when you’re congested helps you drain everything out. I also recommend nasal saline washes; it’s the same concept. You can buy otc nasal saline sprays or you can make it yourself by boiling 1 cup distilled water to ½ tsp of Himalayan salt and ½ tsp baking soda; letting it cool then using it with a dropper to moisten your nose.
Inhale the vapor
This is Mama Chauhan’s favorite “get well now secret”. There’s nothing a little Vicks won’t fix right?! Well it’s true the aromatic and soothing eucalyptus makes this ideal to place on your forehead, chest and inside your nares when you’re not feeling your best. Now Mama Gandhi ‘s “secret” is the “Nas.” You do this by boiling 2 cups hot water and adding a tablespoon of Vicks Vapor Rub in it. You then steam your face with a with a towel over your head for 10 min. This is also a great facial, helping open up our pores and giving you a natural glow! This has the same soothing effects helping to clear your nasal passages faster. I definitely get my money’s worth of Vick’s During cold season!
Follow your Nose
Allow your nose to help you get better with Aromatherapy faster. You boil water like you are making Mama’s G’s Nas, but instead of adding Vicks Vapor Rub you can add one of these essential oils.
Peppermint oil is a great choice for aromatherapy It’s menthol properties make it a good decongestant as well as a good expectorant. Peppermint if often found in many lozenges as well for it’s cooling properties.
Eucalyptus is the main ingredient in Vicks Products. This has been used over many years. It helps loosens mucus and heal an aching sore throat.
Tea Tree oil has to be one of my favorite anti-viral, anti-microbial agents out there. I recommend it for everything from acne, toe nail fungus, simple cuts to inhaling it during colds.
Spit it out
Now this is Papa Chauhan’s favorite all time remedy! Gargling with salt water 2-3 times a day when you’re sick helps you eliminate germs. Now to one up that, I gargle and swish with coconut oil which does the same all while whitening my teeth and ensuring good oral hygiene.
Nothing’s better than Mom’s soup
Nothing better than mom’s Chicken Noodle soup right? The high sodium content is actually beneficial and helps during colds as you are often weaker and fatigued during this time. The warm soup is also comforting to your throat. One of my favorites during this time is miso soup with some siracha sauce or wasabi as well as some Pho. It’s helps clear up my sinuses instantly! Another one of my favorite is my mom’s home-made Indian style tomato soup with turmeric, and chili peppers which also help clear the sinuses.
Drink more Tea
You want to ensure you’re staying hydrated especially when you’re sick because you’re sweating more than you realize and your metabolism is at it’s highest fighting off an infection. One of the things I like to add is drinking tea since I’m a tea-fanatic! Make a cup of homemade warm, lemon, ginger , buckwheat honey tea to sooth your symptoms especially at night. Honey actually beat out dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, and diphenhydramine, an anti-histamine, in easing nighttime cough in children along with improving their overall quality of sleep (1).
You can always make almond milk, turmeric, carom seeds and honey concoction. The turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties and honey’s decongestant and antibacterial properties help sooth your throat and help you get a better nice rest. Avoid using dairy during this time as it is a mucolytic and can actually make your congestion worse. I have enclosed supplements you can try in my second part of the blog. Some of the herbs come in teas, so be sure to check them out if you want a boost during the day as well.
1. Miceli Sopo S, Greco M, Monaco S, Varrasi G, Di Lorenzo G, Simeone G; for the Milk Honey Study (M&HS) Group.Effect of multiple honey doses on non-specific acute cough in children. An open randomised study and literature review. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2014 Sep 5. pii: S0301-0546(14)00129-3. doi: 10.1016/j.aller.2014.06.002.
2: Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev(2):CD001364 2011
3: Science M, Johnstone J, Roth DE, Guyatt G, Loeb M. Zinc for the treatment of the common cold: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. CMAJ 184(10):E551-6110 Jul, 2012
4.Lizogub VG1, Riley DS, Heger M.Efficacy of a pelargonium sidoides preparation in patients with the common cold: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.Explore (NY). 2007 Nov-Dec;3(6):573-84.
5. Krawitz C, Mraheil MA, Stein M, Imirzalioglu C, Domann E, Pleschka S, Hain T.Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Feb 25;11:16. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-11-16.