Welcome to State College, where the weather is drastic and always unpredictable. Changing climates, along with living in close quarters and poor sleeping habits, surely doesn’t have much benefit on our immune systems.
As tempted as we may be to scurry downtown to CVS and scarf down cold medicine, usually the best cures are the natural ones. So when you’re curled up in bed with a stuffy nose and sore throat, simply visit your kitchen for each ingredient to these homemade cold remedies.
Gargling with salt water is good for relieving both sore throats and cold symptoms. Salt water has the ability to break up phlegm and mucus build up in the throat. It also kills bacteria and decreases inflammation. Three times a day, gargle with half a teaspoon of salt in a full glass of warm water.
Drinking ginger tea is recommended for relieving severe coughs and difficulties in breathing. The ginger herb is known for boosting one’s immune system, while acting as a decongestant. In four cups of water, add thinly sliced pieces of a peeled two-inch ginger root. Bring water to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes. After straining the tea, add a hint off lemon and honey. The lemon is a good source of Vitamin C, while the honey acts as a cough suppressant.
A study at Penn State was conducted to research the effectiveness of Vicks VapoRub, a longtime cold remedy. Vicks proved to be a great treatment for relieving cough and congestion. Containing cold-fighting ingredients such as eucalyptus oil, camphor and menthol, this vapor rub proves most effective when massaged onto the neck and chest before bed.
Inhaling hot steam can ease sinus and chest congestion by moisturizing air passageways and loosening build up. Over a pot of boiling water, slowly breathe in the warm air through your nose. Repeat this deep breathing for several minutes. Hot, steamy showers and humidifiers have the same effect.
When breathing out of the nose becomes impossible, so does sleep. To reduce head and nasal congestion, sleep with an extra pillow under your head. This will open up any blockages and prevent sore throats. The best way to get better from any illness is rest, so give your body the amount it needs.
Keeping hydrated is by far the best thing you can do for your body when it is suffering from a cold. Aside from drinking the recommended 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of water a day, drink plenty of juice, herbal teas and ginger ale. Consider adding honey and lemon to each drink. Chicken noodle soup also works wonders, acting as an inflammation and congestion reducer. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol, as it only has the reverse effects.
Above all, if symptoms persist or worsen, the best thing to do is visit the University Health Services or see your doctor.
Photo by Ashley Milillo