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Thursday, July 18, 2024

No pharmacy? No problem

Home remedies to help beat the common cold

 

By MAYA KORNYEYEVA — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu

 

Common colds suck — they just do. One day you’re feeling fine, and the next day you wake up with a headache, a stuffy nose and a sore throat. Nothing feels the same as you struggle through the next few days, getting by on painkillers and double the amount of sleep you’d usually allow yourself. 

But what if I told you there were ways to make your cold go away faster? Ways to help your immune system fight it off through beneficial vitamins and restorative home remedies? Here’s a few of the many steps you can take to beat the common cold without taking a trip to a pharmacy. 

The first thing to understand is what foods and vitamins are naturally advantageous to consume when you’re feeling under the weather. Here are my personal favorites:

  • Honey

Honey is smooth, sweet and has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. My favorite way to use honey is by adding it to hot drinks, like herbal tea or warm milk, to help soothe a sore throat.

 

  • Ginger

Ginger is an ingredient that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Ginger can help with clearing up a headache, nausea or even a runny nose. Many stores sell lemon-ginger tea, or you can grate the root into salads or stir frys.

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also a crucial supplement that every person should take to make sure they stay healthy. Vitamin C gives your immune cells a boost when you’ve got a cold, strengthens cells to help prevent catching a cold in the first place, helps reduce blood pressure and prevents iron deficiency.

  • Garlic

Garlic is another common household ingredient that contains the cold-fighting amino acid allicin, which eases inflammation and blocks harmful molecules. Eating garlic raw is the best way to get those fresh chemical compounds. I usually opt for a garlic spread or add it to soups and salads. 

 

Besides helpful foods, there are also some practical steps to take when you’re sick. This includes sleeping as much as possible; studies show that during sleep, our body goes through many healing processes much faster than when we are awake, seeing as we are conserving energy through minimal movement. Thus, our immune system can function at a quicker rate and kill off the bacteria and viruses attacking our cells. This explains why we often feel fatigue or loss of energy when we are sick: it’s just our body telling us to find the nearest bed and have a long restful nap.  

Drinking lots of hot fluids is another good action to take. When we are sick, our bodies can become dehydrated quickly, and we need to restore water to our system so that our cells have a proper membrane layer to deflect any unwanted bacteria. Hot drinks like tea or hot cocoa and hot liquids like chicken soup can make you feel both comfortable and warm inside while giving your body a way to keep its immune system up and running. 

Finally, using a humidifier or vaporizer can help clear up congestion in your nose and lungs, ease a cough and stop the spread of influenza, which thrives in dry environments. Proper humidification is also hugely beneficial to stop irritation in the eyes and nose, which is why you will find one in just about every house you walk into. Pleasant scents like lavender, eucalyptus and mint can be added to make you feel more relaxed and keep the air fresh and pleasant. 

With these home remedies, the duration of your cold is likely to shorten — or, at the very least, it won’t make you feel like you just took a sledgehammer to the face.

 

Written by: Maya Kornyeyeva — mkornyeyeva@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.