1. Neti pot/sinus rinse
Hailing from India, the neti pot (pronounced ney-thi) is a great way to clear your sinuses. This system uses warm water and sodium bicarbonate to irrigate your congested sinus cavities. DO NOT use the NeilMed products without the sodium bicarbonate packets, it will burn and do more harm than good. I prefer the squirt bottle to blast all the ewey gooeys out of my nose, but I tend to be extreme in certain health regimes.
I cannot believe I ever endured cold seasons without this. Based on a traditional South African cure, the umcka flower provides a nice way to shorten the duration of cold symptoms up to 3-4 days. I prefer the lemon drink and sip on it every 4-6 hours. It actually tastes good and doesn't have the medicine-y taste like many other over the counter flu/cold drinks. Can be found just about anywhere these days, but mostly health food stores.
3. Buckwheat Honey cough syrup
As a sickly child, I cried and fought more spoonfuls of Robitussin that I care to recall. The very word is enough to make me shudder. Now, as an adult, I don't have to endure the disgusting red syrup and I opt for Maty's buckwheat honey cough syrup. This syrup tastes DELICIOUS and keeps the cough at bay. The best part is, it won't make you drowsy and weak like other over-the-counter cough syrups that contain many drugs like codeine.
4. Mama's secret ginger tea
Well, the secret is about to be let out. I make tea like an Indian. That means I make it on the stove with milk, sugar, and sometimes some exciting spices. For sick days, I boil water, add two spoons of loose leaf or two tea bags (one for you, one for the pot), 2 crushed cardamoms, one nub of ginger (smashed), and some honey or sugar. After it boils, add milk (whole or almond work best) and let it boil once again. For the choice of tea, I use Tetley or pu-erh, but any black tea will work. You can even do the whole thing without tea and just boil milk with ginger, honey and cardamom instead to avoid caffeine.
5. Eucalyptus water
The worst part about being sick is the damage that's done from coughing and sneezing so much. When your throat needs relief, it's good to sip on water that will soothe your aches. Add 1-5 drops of food-grade eucalyptus essential oil to a water bottle with room temperature water and shake. Keep the water close by and sip as needed (don't chug).
6. Chest compress
After applying vick's vaporub or a natural vaporub (recipe in slideshow), apply a thin wet cloth to the vaporub zone and cover entire torso with a dry towel. Replace wet cloth when dry. This is a great way to break up all the mucus that's accumulated in your chest and cough it out and help your body fight a cold naturally.
Perhaps the least charming quality of winter weather is the dry air. When your mucus membranes dry out, the cough gets worse to get rid of the infection that is in the upper respiratory system. Investing in a good quality humidifier will keep the moisture in the air and make sure you aren't susceptible to bacterial illness such as pneumonia.
8. Epsom Salt
I'll take an epsom salt bath any ol day of the week. Feeling cranky? Salt soak. Can't get out of bed? Lay in a salt bath. Ran 7 miles? Bath time. Depending on if you're feverish or not, you should actually soak in tepid water, rather than warm. If you don't have a fever, let your hot springs flow. Learn about Farris's adventures in learning to love the bath.
When you're feeling less contagious, come on by for a nice acu-nap and natural healing to get your body's immune defenses up. It's a great way to start working the infection out of your system and moving good energy back in.
As with any major health concern, contact your doctor before beginning a new treatment. There is no way to differentiate between a cold and the flu without a laboratory test (although the flu certainly feels worse), so consult with your doc if you have any questions. If your symptoms don't improve, it's time to see a doctor, as it could indicate a more serious illness. Remember, these tips are typically beneficial to children and adults with uncompromised immune systems. Get well soon!