As cold and flu season ramps up, many are searching for ways to relieve stubborn coughs and congestion without relying solely on over-the-counter medications. Luckily, nature provides a bounty of herbs, foods, and DIY home treatments that can help boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and ease respiratory symptoms.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes Offer Preventative Care
While there is no cure for the common cold, small diet and lifestyle adjustments can go a long way towards bolstering your body’s defenses this winter.
Eat More Immunity-Boosting Foods
- Citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, ginger, yogurt, and green tea contain essential vitamins and antioxidants.
- Bone broths made with anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric provide electrolytes.
- High fiber whole grains like oats and barley feed healthy gut bacteria.
Stay Active Outdoors
Moderate outdoor exercise such as walking and gentle yoga helps circulation and oxygen flow for improved lung health. Just be sure to layer up!
Manage Stress Levels
Chronic stress impairs immune function. Carve out time each day for relaxing self-care rituals like breathwork, meditation, or soothing music.
Get Enough Sleep
Aim for 7-9 hours per night so your body can fully repair itself.
Herbal Remedies Soothe Coughs and Congestion
For many centuries, traditional herbal medicines have been used around the world to treat cold and flu symptoms. Modern research continues to uncover the science behind their effectiveness.
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory compounds gingerol and shogaol inhibit cough reflexes. Sipping ginger tea, adding fresh ginger to cooking, or taking capsules can bring relief.
Curcumin, turmeric’s main active ingredient, exhibits antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Turmeric lattes are a tasty preventative measure.
Eucalyptus oil contains the compound cineole which helps thin mucus secretions in the airways. It can be inhaled directly or added to salves.
Menthol gives peppermint the ability to relax smooth muscles in the airways and act as an expectorant to loosen phlegm. Enjoy as a tea or essential oil chest rub.
The flavonoids in fennel seeds reduce inflammation and spasms to suppress coughing fits. Chew the seeds whole or boiled in tea.
Honey coats and soothes the throat while its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties speed healing. Adults can take a spoonful straight or mix it with other herbs in teas or tinctures. Not recommended for infants due to botulism risk.
Soothing DIY Home Remedies
In addition to herbs and nutritional foods, many inexpensive household ingredients can be combined to create effective cough and cold symptom relievers. Always consult your doctor before using new supplements.
Warm Saline Gargle
Gargling with warm salty water pulls mucus membranes from irritated tissues and washes away viruses and bacteria clinging to the throat. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle for 15-30 seconds as needed.
Steam loosens secretions and moisturizes nasal passages without drying out membranes like antihistamines. Boil a pot of water, drape a towel over your head, close your eyes, and breathe in the vapors for 5-10 minutes. Add a few drops of menthol, eucalyptus, peppermint, or tea tree oil to amplify the effects.
Soothing Chest Rubs
Apply homemade vapor rubs containing camphor, menthol, eucalyptus, and peppermint to your chest before bedtime. The cooling sensation can provide cough relief for better sleep. Mix ingredients with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil before massaging onto skin.
The Outlook this Season
This year’s cold and flu season is off to an early and aggressive start, likely fueled by relaxed COVID-19 restrictions allowing viruses to spread freely. Flu hospitalization rates are the highest observed this early in over a decade. Simultaneous surges of RSV and COVID also tax healthcare systems. The CDC urges all who are eligible get an annual flu shot and COVID booster for optimal protection.
Experts project the flu will peak in late January into February before dropping off in March. Until then, cases may continue rising due to holiday gatherings and cold weather driving people indoors. Colds can strike year-round but tend to worsen in winter as people congregate inside more often with less ventilation.
With some preparation and diligent self-care using evidence-based natural remedies, this too shall pass. Relief from coughs, congestion and seasonal illness woes is within reach.
|Method of Use
|Steep chopped ginger in hot water, strain and drink
|Coughing fits, congestion
|Turmeric, black pepper, nut milk
|Heat together with sweetener of choice
|Inflammation, pain, congestion
|Eucalyptus Chest Rub
|Eucalyptus oil, carrier oil
|Massage diluted oil onto chest
|Steep leaves in hot water
|Coughing fits, congestion
|Chew seeds directly or steep to make tea
|Consume directly off spoon
|Sore throat, cough
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.