11 Holistic Ways to Treat Cold Symptoms

It’s that time of the year when many people are getting sick. Unfortunately there is no cure for the common cold, but a few home remedies may be all you need to help manage your symptoms as your body fights off the infection. Here are some great ways to get yourself through the next week of the cough and congestion.

1. The Secret

Support your immune system in every way possible. Eat a light diet filled with warm, fresh, cooked foods. Avoid sugar, alcohol, smoking, stressful situations and even strenuous exercise. Read on to number 2 below.

2. Rest

When you are sick your immune system is in overdrive, so the more rest you get, the better your body will be able to effectively use its resources to fight off the infection.

3. Hydrate

All that mucous, coughing and immune system activation can lead to dehydration, making you feel even weaker. Adequate hydration with water, fresh juice and light broth based soups can help prevent dehydration and make the mucous secretions less sticky and uncomfortable.

4. Saline Rinses

Saline is probably one of the most underutilized cold fighting modalities. Since cold and flu virus enter the nose or throat, rinsing with saline can help keep these areas clean, not to mention clear all the mucous secretions. The neti pot and warm salt water gargles can also provide relief of stuffy nose and sore throat symptoms respectively.

5. Stay Warm

There is truth to this old wive’s tail. Cold temperatures can affect the immunity of your nasal passages where the cold virus enters, so make sure to bundle up when going outside. From an Ayurvedic perspective, the cold and the flu result from an imbalance of the Vata and Kapha dosha. Balancing Vata and Kapha requires heat whether it be from drinking hot tea or eating warm, easily digestible foods. This is one of the reasons why salads, raw foods, cold beverages and ice cream are advised against when you are sick. Find more about how to boost your immunity from an Ayurvedic perspective here.


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6. Eat Ginger and Turmeric 

Ginger and Turmeric are both scientifically proven to strengthen the immune system and fight the cold and flu virus. Steep fresh ginger and turmeric in hot water for a fresh ginger-turmeric tea.

7. Honey

Honey can not only boost the immune system but sooth a sore throat and suppress coughing. Take a spoonful as you would with cough medicine.

8. Vitamins and Supplements

Vitamins C, D and E have been found to be helpful in boosting immunity and helping with the cold and flu. Probiotics have also been shown to reduce the duration of cold symptoms. 

9. Essential oils

One study showed that a blend of eucalyptus, sweet orange, myrtle, and lemon essential oils helped with respiratory symptoms experienced in colds.

10. Halotherapy

Halotherapy or salt inhalation therapy has been shown to help with respiratory symptoms of colds and asthma. You can perform halotherapy with a himalayan salt inhaler at home or at a halotherapy center in your area.

11. Patience

It’s important to be patient during this time. Stressing about getting better will only make things worse. Chances are you may have gotten sick due to recent stress or lack of sleep, so this is a chance to recuperate on many levels.

You DON’T need antibiotics!

I wanted to note one last thing about antibiotics. Many people come to me because they want antibiotics for their cold, not realizing antibiotics are incorrectly prescribed by many clinicians. Antibiotics are NOT indicated for colds as cold are caused by a virus. Cold symptoms usually resolve on their own in about a week. There are other over the counter options available to manage cold symptoms and sometimes a doctor’s visit may be in order to assess severe symptoms or those that do not resolve after several days. As always, prevention is your best bet when it comes to staying healthy and make sure to consult with your healthcare provider when treating your symptoms.

Read about how to prevent yourself from getting sick 10 Natural Ways to Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season.

What natural ways do you use to treat cold symptoms?

Los Angeles Santa Monica Ayurveda

10 Natural Ways to Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season

Fall is finally here and with it comes the cooler weather, pumpkin spice lattes and the dreaded cold and flu season. Here are some tips for staying healthy over the next several months:
  1. Optimize your immune system

The most effective way to prevent colds, the flu, and many other diseases, is with a healthy immune system. Our immune system has special cells and molecules that recognize and fight the viruses that cause the common cold and flu. The flu vaccine is not 100% effective for the flu, and does not prevent colds, which are caused by a completely different virus. In fact, last year the flu vaccine was only about 20% effective in preventing the flu. A healthy lifestyle can potentially cover the other 80%. A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress management are simple, yet incredibly effective ways that have been scientifically proven boost the immune system.

  1. Use nasal saline rinses

The entry point for cold and flu viruses occurs primarily through the nasal passages. Use a Neti pot daily to rinse your nasal passages with saline solution to flush out viruses, preventing them from spreading throughout the respiratory tract.

  1. Gargle with warm salt water

Gargling with warm salt water has been scientifically proven to prevent colds. Like saline nasal rinses, gargling with warm salt water daily can help prevent cold and flu viruses from replicating and progressing in the body.

  1. Stay Warm

The old wives tale of staying bundled up has some merit. While cold temperatures are not the direct cause of colds and the flu, scientists have found that exposure to cold air may decrease the local immune response in our nasal passages. One of the main reasons we catch colds during colder seasons is because many people spend time indoors, thus making it easier to be exposed to cold and flu viruses. If you do decide to get some fresh air, make sure to bundle up and keep your face and neck covered.

  1. Take vitamin D

study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation in children decreased the risk of contracting the flu. Homeopathic remedies such as probiotics, vitamin C and oscillococcinum may help, but studies have not yet shown definitive evidence for their use in preventing colds and the flu.

  1. Drink Ginger Turmeric tea

In Ayurveda, colds and the flu are thoughts to be due to an imbalance of Vata and Kapha dosha. Turmeric and ginger can balance these doshas. In fact, both ginger and turmeric have been scientifically proven to strengthen the immune system and work against cold and flu viruses.

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  1. Cover your mouth

Cold and flu viruses are transmitted through air droplets, so there is some merit to covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, especially if you have symptoms.

  1. Wash your hands

While air droplets transmit cold and flu viruses, you can still spread the virus with your hands. Since cold and flu symptoms may not appear for up to one day after being infected, it’s that much more important to wash your hands frequently. Also, avoid touching your face to prevent the cold and flu viruses from entering your nose.

  1. Disinfect your home

This goes along with tip #8. Disinfect commonly touched places in your home, such as doorknobs and light switches.

  1. Avoid contact with sick people

The influenza virus is contagious so make sure to limit your exposure to those who are infected. If you happen to be sick as well, stay home and get some rest!

Stay ahead of the cold and flu season!

These prevention strategies are worth a cold and flu- free fall and winter season for you and your family. Make sure to practice a healthy lifestyle all year round.

Feel free to share ways in which you have been able to prevent yourself from getting sick in the comments below!