Kick the Common Cold, the Natural Way

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The H1N1 virus has become the norm these days, cold season is officially in full effect, and increasing numbers of consumers are trying to figure out the best method of defense against germs. NyQuil and Tylenol were not always people’s go-to remedy at the first signs of the common cold; before the invention of over-the-counter drugs, natural remedies were at the forefront of cures. And as our world becomes more and more health conscious, they’re regaining popularity. 

Try the following healthy, safe, and cost-effective alternatives to using over-the-counter remedies filled with harsh chemicals. 

Cough Syrup
Homemade Honey-Lemon Cough Syrup
The powerful vitamin C in lemon juice boosts the immune system; honey is a soothing antibacterial agent for the throat. 

Directions: Roast a lemon in the oven. When it cools, squeeze the juice out and mix with honey. Use as a cough syrup when needed. 

Homemade Garlic-Honey Cough Syrup
Both honey and garlic are known for their antibacterial qualities; honey soothes the throat. 

Directions: Peel and mince six to eight cloves of garlic and add them to a jar of honey. Let sit for at least two hours and then use as a cough syrup.  

Ingredients in Natural Cough Syrups: garlic, lemon, honey 

Active Ingredients in Typical Over-the-Counter Cough Syrups, Such as Robitussin: dextromethorphan HBr USP 10 mg (cough suppressant); guaifenesin; USP 100 mg (expectorant); pseudoephedrine HCl; USP 30 mg (nasal decongestant) 

Natural Sleep Remedies
Instead of taking NyQuil or other over-the-counter sleep aids, which can leave you drowsy and feeling hungover the next day, try these natural, effective sleep solutions. 

In tea form, chamomile helps promote sleep and is a natural remedy for stomachaches. 

This medicinal herb has long been used as a sleep aid. It can be taken to treat occasional sleeplessness, but users should consult a healthcare professional about the appropriate dosage. 

Melatonin, a hormone our bodies produce at night, is extremely important to a healthy night’s sleep. Melatonin supplements are available at many drugstores and health-food stores. 

Ingredients in Natural Sleep Aids: chamomile, valerian, melatonin 

Ingredients in Over-the-Counter Sleep Aids, Such as NyQuil: acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, doxylamine succinate, pseudoephedrine HCl  

Natural Headache Remedies
Aspirin isn’t the only treatment for that persistent head cold. There are actually many natural remedies that can alleviate a headache, without giving you the side effects that can occur with store-bought varieties. 

Spearmint Oil
When rubbed on temples, this oil can aid in combating head pain. 

This herb decreases inflammation and blood-vessel constriction; it also treats and prevents headaches and migraines. Take it at the first sign of a headache to reduce the headache’s duration and intensity. Can be taken in pill form. 

Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba boosts circulation and eases inflammation, reducing headaches in the process. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is widely used in treating and preventing colds. Pineapple and orange juice have a lot of vitamin C and are an easy way to up your intake. Vitamin C supplements and drink mixes, such as Emergen-C, are also excellent remedies for decreasing the duration of colds. 

Zinc can speed up your recovery time after a cold, especially when you take it at the first sign of a cold. You can find zinc supplements at any vitamin shop and most drugstores. 

Chinese Herbs
Licensed acupuncturist Jenna Beem recommends Chinese herbs for treating cold symptoms. She says, “A good tea is ginger, cinnamon, dates, Chinese yam, and licorice. It’s called gui zhi tang.”

Beem suggests yin qiao san, made of honeysuckle and forsythia powder, for serious sore throats, and tea steeped with green onions and soybeans when the first symptoms of a cold appear. (You can get these ingredients from health-food stores and Chinese dispensaries.) She also recommends that you speak with a practitioner who specializes in Chinese herbs before you try these remedies. 

As cold season takes over, natural remedies are a great way to not only stay healthy but save money as well. But don’t underestimate the power of chicken soup, a good night’s sleep, and plenty of liquids, which can sometimes be as effective as any strong medicine.

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