Natural remedies for cold, cough, flu, bronchitis
Common cold is named “common” because is it … well, common, something that we usually get during the “cold season”. Not only we have to stay home at bed, waiting till our body defeats the virus, and missing work or school (this part is not so bad, after all). What makes our life miserable? It is the runny nose, sore and itchy throat, and cough that are actually side effects from our immune system’s assault on the virus. Major problems at this point are: how to get rid of sore throat? How to stop a cough?
Inhale steam from a pan of boiling water. It helps to clear the airways and lungs, breathe easier. Boil in a large bowl. Bend over the bowl and cover your head. Now, inhale the vapors coming out from hot water. For best results, add a few drops peppermint or eucalyptus oil in the boiling water (in this case, do not forget to close your eyes: eucalyptus and peppermint oil may irritate your eyes). This will help in loosening hardened phlegm.
Add spice to your meals (cayenne pepper, horseradish, turmeric, black pepper), eat citrus fruits (lemon, orange, grapefruit), garlic, and ginger for easy chest congestion relief. Asparagus and pineapple have shown to have chest-clearing benefits as well. Watercress can help with respiratory illnesses as it is an expectorant and a general tonic. Hot chicken soup is a potent mucus stimulant, especially when it's loaded with pepper, garlic, cayenne or black pepper, or other spice that helps to thin mucus in the mouth, throat, and lungs.
Besides eating healthy foods, drinking a lot of fluids, and giving your immune system an additional kick (garlic, onion, ginger, lemons, grapefruits can help with it) what else can you do to shorten the time of cold, to suppress cough, and to treat bronchitis, if things get bad?
Herbal tea, like Echinacea, fenugreek, ginger, thyme, chamomile, hyssop, mullein, tulsi (holy basil), sage, or turmeric tea, helps clear the symptoms of chest congestion. Bay leaf tea is one of the oldest cures for bronchitis. Take it hot with lemon and honey to make it more effective. Linden flower tea promotes sweating. Tea from Chokecherry tree bark relieves fever as well.
Natural cough suppressants are the best cough suppressants. Actually, they are better called expectorant. Expectorants help loosen congestion in the lungs by breaking apart mucus and making it easier to cough up and clear the lungs. If you have a congested cough, also known as a wet cough, seek relief in natural expectorants.
Natural expectorants do not have to be in liquid form. Onions and garlic, for example, have natural expectorant characteristics. You can eat them cooked or raw to provide relief from congestion. Anise, fennel, and radish also act as expectorant. While cooking them, add a little bit of cayenne pepper, turmeric, ginger and lemon. Licorice is not only a natural expectorant; it calms irritated throat and lungs and acts as a cough suppressant as well. Take licorice tea (made with 1/2 tsp. licorice root) three times a day soothe sore throat and relieve congestion. Add honey to licorice. It is traditionally used for sore throat.
One of the mostly used home remedies for sore throat and chest congestion is salt water gargle: boil water; add salt in it (1-2 tbsp. for one glass); gargle for a couple of minutes several times a day. You can also add 1 tbsp. of turmeric or ginger to the mixture. Effective gargles for sore throat could be made also with myrrh, thyme, cloves, and chokecherry.
Sage, thyme, cloves, and horehound are also known for their expectorant effects.
What is bronchitis and why it should be treated seriously? Bronchitis is an infection in the bronchial tubes leading to the lungs. Usually it follows cold or flu, when the immune system is weakened and the lungs are already slightly irritated. Bronchitis can lead to other complications, such as pneumonia. Natural remedies for bronchitis are basically the same as for cold and flu:
- Keep your body well hydrated, drink lots of water, avoid caffeine and alcohol since they dehydrate your system.
- Inhale steam vapors (with few drops of eucalyptus oil).
- Strengthen your immune system with Echinacea or astragalus.
- Drink herbal tea for chest congestion.
- Gargle with salt water and/or other herbs.
- Add cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric to your diet. They can help fight fever and body achiness, cough and irritated throat, runny nose and chest congestion.
When you try any herb remedy, remember that there are some herbs that interact negatively with certain medications and can cause serious side effects. Research the side effects of the herbs you select to use. Be extra careful if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Avoid mixing herbs with alcohol. Never take herbal remedies longer than recommended. Check to make sure you have no allergy to an herb before using it.