I don’t know what it is, but while we seem to weather the cold winters with little more than a sniffle, spring rolls around and we have back-to-back colds. The coughing, the fevers, the sneezes and clogged noses–UGH!! Such a misery to endure!
So, you came here for a cure, but unfortunately, there is no magic that can make the common cold disappear. Colds are caused by a variety of viruses that invade your body, breed and move on to bother someone else. Luckily, most colds are short-lived and while miserable, are unlikely to do any long-term damage. I will tell you the secret of the cure: time. That’s it: time is the only thing that can rid you of the beesom pest. It is what your immune system needs to do it’s job–which is to seek and destroy the virus.
Interestingly, most of the unpleasant symptoms you experience when you have a cold are the fault of your own body!! Yes, that runny nose, sore throat, even the fever you may have is a result of your body’s overzealous defence system going into overkill to defend your body against the viral invaders.
So, what’s a witch to do? Is it hopeless? Not quite. The two things that can help you through your common cold are: rest and fluids. When you have a cold, it’s time to slow down. Lie down or sit as much as possible, keep a bottle of water at hand and rest!!
Sleep can be so difficult when you feel unwell, especially for the kids. That’s why it is extra important to have periods of rest throughout the day, to help the body recoup. I will say, we do not shy away from mainstream pharmaceuticals, and when we have a cold, the tylenol or advil get liberal use! I have not found a home remedy that actually works better than tylenol or advil to bring down a fever (if necessary) or manage pain. These drugs have been proven safe and effective and I have no qualms using them. I don’t like to use cough syrups, especially with the kids (for various reasons: not recommended under six, my son has asthma, it exacerbates anxiety, etc.) but I have in the past under a physician’s advice, and would again if necessary.
However, as everyone knows, pain-killers only go so far to alleviating the symptoms of a cold. There are some things we do in my house to better facilitate the process of healing, and to ease the symptoms of the bothersome cold.
Hot Tea with Lemon and Honey
Yes, it’s pretty simple, but it’s soooooo soothing. Although there may not be scientific evidence to back it up, I’m convinced there is something restorative about plain old black tea. We also use herbal teas, especially for the kids, who seem to love camomile varieties, which I think goes to settling their unsettled tummies (kids often experience mild stomach upset along with a cold). I also like: Cinnamon, Elderflower, Peppermint and hibiscus tea for a cold. Honestly, you can just make it with hot water as well, if you’re getting sick of tea.
The best honey is locally sourced, because it has been shown that locally-sourced honey can help alleviate seasonal allergies as well. If your cold is doubly miserable thanks to seasonal allergies, this little boost can’t hurt. But, if all you have is good old Billy Bee, that’ll do the trick! Honey helps sooth a sore throat and has even been shown to help quiet a cough. Lemon helps cut through that phlegm and delivers some extra vitamins to your depleted system. The warm water relaxes, and soothes that tired throat and dry mouth. It seems to help loosen up your throat and chest.
So there’s the usual way to make tea with lemon and honey (make tea, add lemon and honey), and then there’s the Korean Way. It’s basically the same thing, but delivered in a way cooler package, and for whatever reason, I’ve found it is even more effective at soothing a raw throat. Here is the super simple recipe:
Korean Way Honey & Lemon Tea
- A clean jar
Slice up some lemons and put them in your clean jar. Cover them with honey. Pop them in your fridge.
Yep, that’s it. I have heard some people throw in a little ginger. I haven’t tried that yet. You can add more lemons if you have some lemon slices left over from something else, same with honey. Overtime the lemons are going to dissolve into the honey and it’s going to be this kind of marmalade goop. When you want to consume it, take it out by the tablespoon and add it to hot water or hot tea. Stir and enjoy!
Sometimes I use the tea bags for watery, itchy, puffy eyes. Just pull them out of your tea (prior to the lemon and honey being put in!), give them a little squeeze, lie down and put them over your closed eyelids. It seems to help!
Warm Salt Water Gargle
Make the water as warm as you can tolerate it without the risk of burning anything. Add it to a mug of salt (I’d say about a teaspoon per 1/4 cup or so, doesn’t need to be exact). Swish it around your mouth and spit. Take another mouthful and gargle it. We tend to do the musical scales while gargling, it makes me feel like we’re getting more gunk off the larynx. You can do this as often as needed, it really helps to soothe and take the edge of the pain of a sore throat.
I know tired and sore muscles are usually associated more with the flu than the common cold, but I always have them with a cold. I suspect it’s due to poor sleep than anything else, but having a relaxing soak in epsoms salts is amazing when you have a cold. I run it pretty hot for myself, to let the steam help open up my sinuses and loosen up the phlegm, but for the kids I keep it to their usual temperatures.
You can pick up Epsoms salts at your local grocery or department store. I buy it in large amounts at CostCo. You can add things to it, if you’re into aromatherapy.
Bone Broth–What’s Really in a Witch’s Cauldron
This nutritional soup is packed with nutrients, yet very easy on the tummy. I hear it’s trendy now–but please don’t go out and spend six dollars on a cup of bone broth! It’s super easy & inexpensive to make at home, and it’s good to eat any time. In fact, you can use it just like store-bought broth in your recipes and whatnot. For a soothing soup for the sick, add whatever ingredients you have on hand that the sick person in question feels up to eating. Spices, noodles, veggies, whatever. You can also make it in batches, or whenever you like and freeze it for when you are ready. The best time to make it is right after you’ve made something like roasted chicken (you can even use the rotisserie chickens from the grocery store!).
My husband makes the best bone broth of all time, which is saying a lot because my Oma made a very comforting kind too! He takes the bones of a cooked chicken carcass (you can use any kind of bones) and brings it to a boil in salted water. Then with whatever mysterious spices he uses (you can use what you like in soups) (my Oma uses only salt and pepper) and vegetable scraps (you can save them up throughout the week in a tupperware in your fridge), he simmers it for a long time (like, 24 hours) (yes, you can use a crockpot). Within about two hours the broth is usable, but very light. It won’t have the nutrient-dense power punch that bone broth truly has. For the bones to release all their minerals, they need to simmer for a full day, no less.
That’s it, just lots of fresh pineapple. We’ve been doing this in our family for years. Something about pineapple seems to help cut through the phlegm and mucous to help you feel better faster. Also, pineapple is healthy food, so eat up!
This one is controversial, but it works for my family. Many parents and some healthcare experts recommend cutting dairy from your kids’ diet when they have a cold. This seems to be based primarily on the complaint that dairy can increase phlegm production, and prolong or worsen the symptoms of the common cold. If you have found that cutting our dairy works for you or your family, keep doing what works!
My kids find milk to be a way to soothe their sore throats, and it doesn’t seem to contribute to an increased phlegm production. I like to give them milk because of all the essential vitamins and minerals it delivers at a time when my kids may not be eating as much variety as they usually do. So, if you’d like to try it, here is my simple recipe for cinnamon milk:
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp honey
Warm the milk on the stove, until it’s almost boiling (don’t burn the milk!). Poor it into a cup and add your cinnamon stick. Let it steep for about 10 minutes. Add your honey and make sure it’s not too hot for the kids.
We like it without honey too, but when you have a cold, I’m a firm believer in lots of honey!
Cinnamon Honey Soother
Notice a theme here? It’s like a bee lives here! I guess using honey was passed down to me by my Oma, who used it to “cure” just about everything. I didn’t even know about polysporin until I was a teenager, because she seriously just slapped honey on everything! Really though, don’t do that!
So, this is like a cough syrup, in that it can help quiet a bothersome cough and soothe a sore throat.
Cinnamon Honey Soother
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Mix it together until well-mixed. Done!
You can take this as is, it will be most potent like this. It really gives you a lovely warming-sensation. You can also take it and mix it into hot water or tea. You can even use it to dip fruit in or spread it onto toast. Kids love it (of course).
Clean your Nose!
Whether you use a netti-pot or just simple saline spray, it really helps to keep your nasal passages moisturised and as clear as possible. You can make your own saline solution, but honestly, it’s so much easier and more convenient to just buy a commercial one. This little tip may be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. If you cough up phlegm, that’s a good thing, spit it out into a Kleenex or something–you want that stuff out of your body.
This is the go-to treatment for croup (followed by cold-air exposure and a trip to a doctor if the symptoms aren’t relieved), but it also works to help loosen up stubborn phlegm in both kids and adults. Get into the bathroom, run the shower as hot as you possibly can (do not get in!), and if it is cold outside, crack the window just a little. Make sure your bathroom door is closed, and just wait for the steam to fill up the bathroom. It works amazingly well. When my son was a baby and thanks to his asthma would get the worst congestion, we would take up to 6 or 7 steam baths a day while I nursed him. It was often the only way he could clear out those nasal passageways enough to even nurse! Blow your nose a lot while you’re in the steam bath, it can really help to clear you out!
So there you have it. Maybe it’s not a cure, exactly, but since there is no cure for the common cold, its the next best thing: some relief while you wait for your immune system to do it’s thing!
This post should not replace medical advice and common sense. Do not hesitate to seek and follow medical advice from a doctor should you have any questions or concerns about your health.