How to Beat That Winter Cold (No Chemicals Needed)

Vintage Drug Store

I’m so sorry you’re feeling icky! I’m here to help with my tried and true natural remedies.

After I got back from a summer of travelling around Europe, (hello, jet lag!) back-to-back long days of work coupled with extreme stress (due to not having a enough time in the day…Millennial syndrome), the glands on my neck were really swollen, almost constantly. I always seemed to have some sort of “crud.” I had been checked for strep and other more serious things, but the truth was this persistent little bug I had felt off and on for months hadn’t 100% worked its way out of my body, and it was well past it’s welcome.

Pretty soon, I had a fever, was coughing every five seconds and was in sinus headache hell. I couldn’t even sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time because everything was just so uncomfortable. Ironically, I had gotten called into a commercial audition for an energy drink that day. I tried… but it was a disaster. (*hacks, keels over.*) This was a cold from the deepest dregs of hell. Yay! No magic Western medicine to fix me this time? Wah!

This is how I sped that bug out of my system. Get your notebook out: this is what you need, Sniffy McCoughington.

Dry brushing
I now dry brush on a daily basis to help get my circulatory system working at utmost efficiency, and making sure I am flushing the optimum amount of toxins from my body. (If you have a bug, get it out faster, man!) Another habit I have developed when a cold is coming on is rubbing the glands around my throat and ears gently in a circular motion with the tips of my fingers. This is soothing when these areas are inflamed, but it also helpful by way of getting the “junk” in there moving, similar to the dry brushing. You can go ahead and massage the lymph nodes in your underarms and the backs of your thighs as well.

It sounds redundant, but DRINK WATER. If you aren’t getting at least half your body weight in H2o a day (literally, divide your weight in pounds in half and drink that many ounces of water!), you’re doing your skin, digestive, and nervous system a disservice. When you’re sick and even when you’re not, think of it as cleansing – drink up, baby! Adding lemon to your water is a great way to get natural vitamin C, which will of course help speed things along! Hot lemon water is even better!

Take out 2-3 cloves of garlic. Cut off the ends and eat that garlic. Yes. Raw. Fresh. Chew if you want, but be warned that if you chew it a lot, it MIGHT upset your stomach. Don’t do this on an empty stomach. If you’re committed to getting better, this is one of the best things you can do. Raw garlic is antiviral, anti-fungal, and antibacterial. It helps reduce cholesterol and blood pressure as well. Don’t eat more than two or three raw garlic cloves a day. If you’re feeling squeamish about this dive into raw garlic territory, you can go ahead and make yourself a…

Soup remedy
… garlicky onion soup. Sauté garlic and onion in oil for a few minutes until it becomes translucent, add chopped carrots for 3-5 minutes on medium after that, coating them, and then add veggie broth. I suggest making a pot’s worth of this soup, then adding red jacket potatoes. The warm broth will soothe your throat, and nothing is better than a nice veggie soup when you are sick.

Whiskey, baby
Something you can do in the evening to relax your sick, achy body is make a hot toddy. You can go ahead and do this with or without whiskey, but hear me out: whiskey has healing powers when you’re congested with a raw throat. The whiskey factor will also lull you into a nice sleep as well, which is the most important thing when you are sick: SLEEP, lots of it. Whiskey or scotch will also heat your body slightly, which can be a nice sensation while also acting as a sedative (think Nyquil without all of the nasty chemicals and additives!). Just remember that only one of these beverages with alcohol is necessary per day…it ain’t a party, it’s medicinal!

Steep green or black tea (I prefer black myself) in your favorite mug, and remove the bag. Add a tablespoon (or more, depending on how sweet you like your tea) of honey – which will coat your throat and bring you much needed relief – half of a squeezed lemon, and a shot of whiskey. If you’re feeling so inclined, add some fresh grated ginger or a cinnamon stick as well! Hot and spicy drinks, especially ones that mix sweet and sour, promote mucus secretions (sorry for the visual) in your nose and mouth, which is a key line of defense against bacteria and viruses. If you already have a bug, this hot elixir will open up your chest and nasal cavities, not only providing relief, but also allowing a smoother cough and chance to blow a stuffed up nose.

Natural/organic cough drops
I recommend Organix Purely Peppermint Sore Throat Drops or Herbon Naturals Mandarin Orange Organic Cough Drops. Enjoy and really put them to good use: let them dissolve slowly for the optimum effect.

Salt gargle
A few times a day, add a teaspoon of iodized salt (we need some iodine to beat colds, for one) to a cup of lukewarm water and gargle deep into the back of your throat. Don’t swallow it, though, because that’s gross. This will not only soothe your throat, but it can help flush out bacteria, reduce swelling, and loosen mucus. I find it very relaxing as well. Let the healing salt taste sit in your throat and mouth for a few minutes afterward before you start drinking water again.

As far as over-the-counter meds go: I have steered clear of the Dayquils and Sudafeds as of late, but we will not judge you at all if this is how you find relief. One must do what is best for oneself! And only you know your body. When I got sick earlier this year, I wanted to experiment with what I could do at home without my usual go-tos of Vicks, Nyquil, etc. I have to say that all of these natural remedies helped me immensely, and I was able to get back to being myself in no time.

My fiancé, knowing my commitment to finding homeopathic and chemical-free remedies, found me Cold Calm tablets by Boiron at Whole Foods. They are a U.S. homeopathic company that make really great products, and on top of everything else I was doing by way of non-toxicity, I took these Cold Calm tablets as well, and I have to say – wow! I think they really helped speed things along for me, and since they’re homeopathic, I felt good about taking them. You can check out the ingredients and information on them on their website.

Sit down. Relax. Stay a while.
One of the things I did differently this time, too, was actually take time off. Not that many of us can afford to take a sick day, it may not be possible – but think about it. You’re infecting others around you if you go out, which sucks, but you’re also running yourself ragged and elongating your sickness by simply not slowing down. I took three days to sleep it off. Literally, all day in bed dozing in and out of sleep, resting my body, letting it heal and repair itself, while simultaneously doing the remedies listed above. I fought every urge to watch daytime TV or even read a book. I shut the door, closed my eyes, and let my body do what it needed to do. It felt weird. We’re often so in need of a distraction. I shut down, and shut off. And I was better in half the amount of time because of it.

I hope you feel better soon, friends. Remember that we’re only as sick as we allow ourselves to be. Act fast when it comes on, and take the necessary measures to make sure you’re allowing yourself enough rest and relaxation during this time. Now, turn off your computer for a few hours and enjoy the gloriousness that is your soft pillow. Buh-bye!

Photo credit: Hannah Karina

  • Call It Vanity

    I love dry brushing but I always find it so difficult to remember to do it – sounds silly I know! Any tiiiips?

    Mayah x

  • Kathryne

    YEAS!!!! I leave my dry brush next to my tooth brush. It’s the only way I remember do it first thing in the morning. I always know I should do it, but if it’s in my closet ain’t NO WAY I will remember. Tooth brush needs a friend anyway!!!!! Lonely out there!

    Kathryne! XO