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January 25, 2010

Homemade Cold Remedies

BLOG-Flu As soon as the kids are back in school, the flu season cranks up to full strength. Coughs, stuffed noses, fevers, sneezing—you name it, they’re all there.

I’m a big believer in home remedies, and there’s nothing like a little extra special care from Mom or Dad to help our little ones when they get sick. But what works to combat colds and what doesn’t? I thought I’d do a little research on the best homemade remedies for cold season. Make sure you share these tips with your babysitters and nannies. They’re on the front line of flu fighters, too!

Drink Fluids
There are plenty of reasons to stay hydrated even when you’re not sick, but drinking fluids like water, ginger ale, or sports drinks is especially important when you’re not feeling well. Decaffeinated herbal tea is my drink of choice when I’m under the weather. The last time I was sick, my co-founder Donna suggested adding honey to the tea to help reduce my sore throat. It was an old trick she’d learned from her grandmother. In fact, Donna’s grandmother used to mix honey with baking soda and make her kids and grandkids take it whenever they weren’t feeling well! (I haven’t tried that yet.)

It’s extremely important to drink fluids when you’re sick because you can easily become dehydrated as your body fights off the virus, so keep those fluids coming (8-10 eight-ounce glasses a day). Fluids also help break up congestion, too. 

Gargle
So what if it sounds and looks funny? Gargling helps moisten sore and scratchy throats. Use warm water and add a teaspoon of salt and a squirt of lemon juice a few times each day. It’s a great pain reliever and helps take sick kids’ minds off the discomfort they’re feeling.

A friend of mine tells me she mixes water with hydrogen peroxide for her gargling solutions. She does admit it tastes pretty bad, but it works for her. Would you try that?

Chicken Soup
Mom always said it was good for you and science proves she was right all along! Chicken soup acts as an anti-inflammatory and relieves congestion—not bad! Plus, it has protein which helps the body build those flu-fighting white blood cells.

Humidity
There’s a reason a hot shower makes you feel better when you’re sick. The humidity from the steam helps make breathing easier. It’s also a great way to stay warm. When your body doesn’t have to spend as much effort warming itself, it has more energy to use fighting off the virus that made you sick. It is also a good idea to keep a humidifier running in the house during the winter months—they’re an inexpensive way to fight off the dry air that comes with this time of year.

Vitamins
Vitamin C, Echinacea, and zinc are all lauded as cold-fighters. But do they actually work? Some people swear by these natural remedies, but studies have mixed results. There’s some indication, though, that taking Vitamin C, Echinacea, or zinc when you start to feel sick helps shorten the length of the cold. And I know they definitely work for me.


If you’re looking for even more info on fighting the flu, you can find helpful homemade remedy tips here from Kidshealth.org. And don’t forget the importance of rest! Get lots of sleep and give your body some time to fight off the flu this winter.

What’s your go-to homemade remedy? Share it with the Care.com community in the comments!

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Comments

Linda Powell

Thanks for the information on the home remedies, you are right about. I have not had a cold in over five years do to the vitamins that I take that have a 85% absorbtion rate. If any one is interested in the vitamins I take, I would be glad to share the information with you. Thannks

Trish

1-2-3 Cough Medicine (OLD-Time Remedy)

one part whiskey
two parts lemon
there parts honey

It sounds gross, but it's not that bad. It's way better then cough medicine you buy. I made a batch in a peanut butter jar and kept it along side of my bed until my cold was gone. Slept a lot better!! Whiskey is for the coughing, lemon helps clear the sinus and honey is for the throat.

Sandy

Gargle with a solution of 1/2 apple cider vinegar and 1/2 water. I start gargling as soon as I feel a cold coming on. I've fought off numerous full blown colds with this method.

Sarah

Washing your hands properly is one of the best prevention methods to keep from getting sick in the first place, and to avoid getting others sick!

I loved/cringed at the quote from your August article “Swine Flu – Real Danger or Just Media Hype” – “A child can touch up to 300 surfaces every 30 minutes, so you never know what they’re getting their hands into.”

Yikes!

A great resource for kids, parents and teachers is “The Art of Washing Hands” web site (http://artofwashinghands.com/). The site offers free posters, coloring pages and songs that help teach kids how to fight germs through proper hand washing techniques. Practicing a little ‘Germ Jitsu’ can help reduce the germs spread from curious hands touching all those surfaces!

Karen

Thanks for all the good info. I'll try that cough syrup alto I think Mom used brandy instead of whiskey. I have noticed that taking vitamin C every hour or so dries up my stuffiness and seems to clear everything up in a few days.

Tricia Hart

Linda Powell -- what vitamins are you taking?

Beth

If you take about a tablespoon of fresh or dried mint, a teaspoon of lemon zest or a slice of lemon, and a pinch of eucalyptus and pour two or so mugs-worth of BOILING water on it, then let it steep for five minutes before sweetening to taste with honey and drinking it hot, it'll clear up congestion and discomfort for as much as two solid hours. It's tasty, too!

adult blog themes

Any fruit that is rich in Vitamin C and other nutrients can also proof beneficial. You can choose to dillute lemon in a glass of water, and drink it. You can also opt to make fruit shakes if you want something tasteful. Put in a mix of apple, mango and peach, and you're good to go.

Kaz`s remedies

You offer some good common sense advice for fighting off colds. Garlic is a natural anti-biotic, is one of the most tested herbs on the planet and is good for fighting cold and flu and giving energy. Also an old remedy now given credibility by a Harvard study is to alternate between hot and cold shower and bath. If you take a 10 minute shower... finish it with 2 minutes of cold water. This will increase white blood counts which fight off illness, not to mention wake you up and leave you surprisingly refreshed. Sound crazy.. try it out and see for yourself.

Blessed Herbs

Thanks for sharing this info. This is very helpful since the weather nowadays is not good so many people get sick.

How about trying some hot lemon juice? it really helps because it's really proven since this is what my mom recommends every time I have flu. And taking enough Vitamin C like 1500mg per day would be good too.

Increasing your fluid intake and eating the right kind of food will help you gain back your resistance.

Pet Remedies

Hi ... do the same principles apply for pets? I have a sick pet and although I am not sure its a "cold" per se I couldnt really find anything about homemade pet care ...

Niel Petir

Thanks for the tips. Fluids are so important for any treatment of any sickness. I like the extra info about vitamin C. This is one of the most overlooked tools in the fight against cold and flu. People normally go for a quick fix with antibiotics which really should not be encouraged for normal flu. Natural remedies are excellent in these cases.

Khristine

Chicken soup always helped me when I was sick. ;) But seriously, it's funny to see how science breaks down the most terrible illnesses; and at the same time, it's incapable of dealing with cold.

Oh well! Thanks.

Anna Breault

I definitely agree to this post! Drinking fluids helps our body and enhance our immune system. This is really an awesome post!

Menamari

I make syrup out of a chopped onion and pressed few garlic cloves and honey( i use always manuka honey 15+[ from aldi]). Lyer that in empty jar: lyre of onion+ garlic, honey on top, and again layer of onion + garlic and honey on top and so on until it reach the very top of the jar. Cover it with lid and put it into warm place (in my case is hot radiator I use) to settle for about min 1 hour. After that time will be created watery like syrup, sieve it and drink 5ml 3 times a day or more often. It is very oldschool eastern European recipe, it is working really well . My 2 yrs old son was cured in this way out of many colds. Usually it takes 3 days to get better, but u have to start the cure as soon as u noticed first symptoms. Thanks for sharing other usefull tips. Best of luck!

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