Inexpensive Home Remedies to See You Through the Cold Season

by Linda Shapero


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There's no getting away from it. Winter is here and inevitably you're going to get sick. You can go to the drugstore and pick up some over-the-counter remedies, but do they really work? And how safe are they with all their side effects?

The good news is you can fight these scourges with home remedies, many of which have been used almost since the beginning of time. Even better, these concoctions are inexpensive to prepare and offer relief that often begins right away.

Let's look at some popular home remedies for the following ailments:

Sore Throat - This is one I've used over the years after an old country doctor told me about it. Use good old salt and water. Take about a teaspoon of salt and stir it into a cup of warm to hot water and gargle. Do this every half-hour, and it really helps relieve the pain of a sore throat. The theory behind it is that salt reduces swelling by drawing out water from the inflamed tissues. It's safe, costs pennies, and couldn't be faster or easier to make.

Colds - Colds are a particular nuisance because they seem to go on forever. For a head cold with blocked sinuses, make an inhalation with between eight and twelve drops of flower essential oil, i.e. seven drops of eucalyptus, two drops of basil, and one drop of peppermint. Simply boil about a pint or two of water and let it cool for a minute or two. Then sprinkle the recommended amount of drops onto the water. Inhale for five to ten minutes. The flower essential oil can be purchased at health food stores and many drugstores. Because you use such a small amount in most "recipes," they are quite cost effective and last a very long time without losing their potency.

Cough - One way to help relieve a nagging cough is to apply a hot compress (washcloth or towel dipped in hot water) to which a few drops of eucalyptus essence is added directly to your throat. You can also add a couple of drops of lavender and marjoram to help silence the cough. Keep the compress on until it cools and repeat as desired. Don't forget tea, honey and lemon, either. Drinking this several times a day will help soothe your throat, as well as your cough.

Flu - Oh, where to start with flu? If you have chills, fever, miscellaneous aches and pains, runny nose, headache or even joint pain, you probably have the flu. The really bad part is it can lead to secondary infections, such as bronchitis or even pneumonia. Luckily, there are many remedies you can use to fight back.

Two interesting spices that can be used to help clear the sinuses are ginger and cayenne pepper. Most people have these on hand in the kitchen spice rack. They both help not only with sinus problems but also by inducing sweating. (However, sweating means you have to remember to drink lots of fluid to replace what you've lost.) Both ginger and cayenne pepper can be mixed in boiling water and sipped throughout the day. They may not be your favorite beverage, but the chance that they may relieve flu symptoms is worth the taste. You can also add honey to them to make them more palatable. Another tea that may be a little easier to swallow is thyme tea. Steep one teaspoonful of thyme in a cup of boiling water and inhale it for about five minutes. When you're through, strain it, add some honey, and sip. This will help with aches, particularly headaches, and also to reduce swelling of mucous membranes.

Hopefully, these remedies will help you find relief. However, note the following things you can do to prevent getting sick.

As you've probably heard, hand washing is the first line of defense, so do it as much as possible during the day. Also, be sure to sanitize your desk at work, as well as your telephone and any other pieces of office equipment you share with office mates. Don't forget, too, to use the wipes for shopping carts that they offer at the market.

And remember, make an appointment to visit your doctor for any illness that you think could be serious.

Take the Next Step:

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