is the best way to deal with these dreaded viruses. But if you are unlucky enough to fall victim to a cold or flu, then here are some home remedies which might help lessen the length and severity of the virus and hopefully make you feel better. There are millions of remedies around, but I will touch on the most common and effective ones.
Drink Fluids - This is one we all know we should do but tend not to! It is so important when you are sick to keep your fluid intake up, even if you don’t really feel like it. Water is the best, but you can alternate it with fruit and/or vegetable juices and herbal teas (green or white tea, peppermint or lemon and honey tea are the best) during the day to keep hydrated. If you have a sick child, encourage them to drink too – even small sips often is better than nothing at all. You can encourage them to eat jelly or iceblocks too! You can also eat broth-like soups (not the creamy ones) – try chicken noodle soup. And no, alcohol will not get rid of viruses – nice try though!
Rest - Well this is a fairly obvious one, but many still try and push through a cold or flu and don’t rest as much as they should. If you don’t rest, your body has no energy to fight off the virus, and that’s when you can become worse and are more susceptible to developing bacterial infections (which can be nasty and sometimes put you in hospital!) If you are sick, try and get someone to look after the kids for a while and grab some of your fave books and DVDs and put your feet up!
Wash Your Hands! - Handwashing is one of the best ways to stop the spread of viruses – this isn’t really a remedy as such, but it might help to stop spreading your germs to everyone else around you. Wash your hands after touching your nose or mouth (hand sanitiser is just as good) and after using the bathroom and before eating. Just washing with warm soapy water for 20 seconds is enough to kill viruses and bacteria.
Essential Oils - Being a student aromatherapist, it would be remiss of me not to mention essential oils! There are some terrific oils out there which can help you when you have a cold or flu – the best ones being eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon, peppermint, rosemary and ravensara. Any of these are great in a steam inhalation to clear the airways and unblock sinuses. Do not use essential oils during pregnancy or with babies or children unless you have the ok from a qualified aromatherapist/naturopath and your GP – see our post on essential oil safety for more information.
Vitamin C - There is conjecture as to whether this actually works, but it has been said that that taking around 1000mg of Vitamin C a day at the beginning of a cold can help to reduce the severity and length of the cold. There are studies around though, that show that Vitamin C does nothing – it is best to discuss this with your GP or pharmacist. I think it can’t hurt to take Vitamin C anyway so grab yourself some Vitamin C supplements and take as directed. You can also get some great natural Vitamin C by eating vitamin rich foods such as oranges, strawberries, kiwi fruit and green leafy vegetables.
Hot Steam for Sinuses - One of the best ways to help unblock the sinuses is to inhale steam – you can do this a couple of ways. The easiest way is to stand in a hot shower and breathe the steam in deeply for about 5 minutes. You probably don’t want to have multiple showers in one day though, so you can also just fill a plastic (not metal or glass!) bowl with hot water (and you can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil) then lean over it and breathe the steam in (be careful not to spill it and burn yourself – not a good remedy to use to treat young children for that reason). For the kids it’s probably best to go to the chemist and invest in a good vapouriser/humidifier – discuss with your chemist the best option and usage instructions.
Throat Gargles - For sore throats, the best remedy is to gargle salt water. Just add one teaspoon of fine table salt to a cup of warm (not hot) water and gargle this about four times a day – this will help relieve the sore throat somewhat and salt has antibacterial properties.
Herbal Remedies - Some studies have shown that taking herbal preparations such as echinachea, olive leaf extract, garlic and horseradish, and over the counter herbal medications such as “Ease a Cold” can be of some benefit. As with normal pharmaceutical remedies, herbal remedies can also cause side effects, so it’s best to talk to your pharmacist or naturopath before taking any herbal medication, especially if you have health conditions or are taking any other regular prescribed medication.
Over the Counter Medications - Most people will choose to head to the chemist when they have a cold or flu and grab the stuff with the antihistamines and paracetamol etc to give them relief. That is all fine, but just make sure you check with your pharmacist what is ok for you to use. Different medications work different ways, and also have different side effects. Also if you are taking any regular medication or have a health condition, you may not be able to take the over the counter stuff!
If your symptoms worsen despite any of these suggested remedies please seek medical attention – we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice – http://www.stayathomemum.net.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information.