One ailment that none of us can dodge is being down with a cold or flu. Colds can make you feel rotten, while flu is more likely to pack you off to bed with fever! Though both these ailments share some common symptoms, they are indeed different beasts being caused by different viruses. While there are over 200 viruses that can bring you down with a cold, just three of them can cause flu!
If you are generally in good health, it is usually easy to manage these symptoms of both cold and flu effectively without the need to see a doctor. With hordes of potential treatments available to treat these, treating a cold or flu isn’t difficult. But not all of them will help – and which remedy you should turn to will depend on whether you have a cold or the flu.
To get started, let us first decipher the symptoms before we delve into some tricks and tips that have been proven to help and are effective.
Symptoms of Cold or Flu
The symptoms of a cold develop over a day or two and last for up to two weeks before gradually getting better. A cold is most contagious during the early stages and is marked by runny nose with intermittent periods of blockages, sore throat, cough, muscle and headaches
On the other hand, flu exhibits symptoms like sudden fever (100-104F), exhaustion and sweating besides the above.
What to do?
Several common kitchen ingredients and natural herbs go a long way in helping alleviate the symptoms of both cold and flu. Here are some quick and effective things you can do to help with yourself when dogged with a cold or flu!
- Onion & Garlic: A powerful, natural antibiotic and antimicrobial, garlic is a potent remedy for almost all kinds of illnesses, including cold. Drink 1-2 cloves of finely minced garlic with a glass of water for relief from cold symptoms. In fact, for extreme cases of illness, placing garlic mixed with onion and olive oil over the bottom of the infected person’s foot and covering it with a sock overnight is shown to pull toxins and help the heal the body.
- Ginger: Ginger can help alleviate headache, nausea and vomiting associated with the flu and bring down high fever. Fresh ginger root steeped in tea is very effective against congestion.
- Hot beverages: Hot herbal teas or hot lemon water helps in boosting the immune system. The heat also helps relieve cold and sore throat. Just load up on these at the first sign of cold for best results.
- Cinnamon: An effective antiviral and antibiotic, it helps relieve cough, congestion and lower fever. Mix 1 tablespoon cinnamon with a teaspoonful of honey and add to your tea to see its quick effect.
- Apple Cider Vinegar Gargle: Though awful to taste, gargles with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water at the first sign of illness and until symptoms disappear can help alkalize the body and kill the cold-causing viruses.
- Coconut Oil: Coconut oil with its rich lauric acid content is found to dissolve the lipid coating around viruses, making them easy prey to the body’s immune system. 5-6 tablespoons of coconut oil per day in food or stirred into hot tea can help boost the immune system in a great way.
- Face Steam: Steam is very good to loosen congestion and kill the viruses in the lungs, sinuses and bronchi. Prepare an inhalation mix by adding 2 tsp. each of thyme, oregano and rosemary to 1-2 cups of boiling water and breathe in the steam.
- Remove White Foods: At the first sign of illness, eliminate all white foods such as milk, cheese and diary product, sugar and sweeteners, soda and grains from your diet. These foods suppress the body’s immune function, slowing down the recovery process.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: Putting a dropper-full of hydrogen peroxide into each ear at the first sign of cold, flu, sinus infection is very effective for relieving the body of the infection. This is specially found to be effective in kids.
- Hydrate and Rest: Keep yourself hydrated and rest enough!
Natural herbs that help
Natural herbs also find great use in treating symptoms of cold and flu. Some of the herbs that are evidently effective include:
- Nettle Leaf: This herb contains large amounts of vitamins and minerals that help remove toxins from the body and keep it hydrated as well. It is also a powerful immunity-supporter and helps build up the defense against cold and flu.
- Catnip: A traditional cold and flu herbal remedy, it is especially useful in kids for inducing sleep and combat flu and cold.
- Peppermint: Rubbing peppermint on the skin can instantly bring down even a high-grade fever. Naturally antimicrobial and antiviral, it helps relieve symptoms of cold and flu when consumed as a hot or even cold tea.
- Elderberry: Known to support the body especially during flu, this herb is readily available as a syrup in local stores.
- Chamomile: A great tasting absolute staple, chamomile is a wonder herb especially for kids. It helps calm nerves, reduces fever and inflammation and regulates hormones, relieving of cold and flu symptoms very effectively.
- Yarrow: A great remedy for flu and fever, this herb is abundantly used in teas and as tincture and helps to shorten the illness. Though naturally bitter, it is great for children and for the endocrine system in general.
Vitamins for Cold and Flu Treatment
While the above treatments help, it is important to supplement your diet with Vitamins D3 and C, and minerals like zinc that are found to be effective in warding off the symptoms associated with cold/flu and boost a speedy recovery. Zinc also helps in reducing the severity of the illness and can help shorten its duration.
Natural Antivirals for Cold and Flu Treatment
Nature provides some naturally-occurring antivirals that bear potent evidence in treating cold and flu. Oregano and thyme oils have potent antiviral abilities and are very effective against both cold and flu when used in small, diluted quantities. However, avoid using thyme on pregnant women and small children.
Myths busted: What doesn’t work?
A lot many treatments touted to be effective are but just advice, without any evidence of their efficacy. In fact, many don’t do a thing in alleviating the symptoms of either cold or flu‼
- Feed a cold, starve a fever?
Though a much-touted adage, there is little evidence behind it! Eating more doesn’t have any bearing on the symptoms of either cold or flu. Of course, one must eat healthy to keep up their strength, but you don’t need to force food down if you’re not hungry.
- Honey and lemon help!
Neither is proven to help. Doctors do recommend upping your fluid intake as the constant sneezing, coughing and sweating leads to loss of fluids from the body. So, water or an odd cup of tea or coffee helps to keep the body topped up with fluids.
- Using Eucalyptus or menthol oil
Again, there’s no good evidence that either work, though they do offer some temporary relief by unblocking your nose.
- Start on antibiotics!
Antibiotics are of no use in treating either colds or flu. Both these conditions are viral in nature and antibiotics do not treat viruses!
Remember, being contagious, maintaining hygiene and preventing the spread of the virus is as important as any other treatment. So, take care!
Medical Disclaimer: The information and reference materials contained here are intended solely for the general information of the reader. Patients and consumers should review the information carefully with their professional health care provider. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. You should consult your physician before beginning a new nutritional or fitness program.