Dearest head cold, how you taunt me so … and just as the weather is becoming so beautiful. With your mucousy mockery, you linger and stay, could you not have waited for a rainier day? Coughing, hacking, sneezes galore, thank goodness I’m married, for this a a look no mere man could possibly adore.
We’ve all been there, just as the weather is becoming its most ideal, our dear friend the head cold makes a surprise visit. And let me tell you, he comes with a whole lot of baggage.
This is the time of year we want to be outside, enjoying spring/summer festivals, exercising, gardening, hiking, and having a generally great time. What we don’t want is to be weighed down with a head cold that moves from a throat full of needles, to a head full of gunk, and nights spent feverish unable to sleep or breathe.
But what do we do to kick the cold faster and find some semblance of relief while our bodies work to evict our unwanted guest? Start with these simple, natural remedies that speed up the body’s healing process and offer relief from your worst symptoms.
Tea- but not just any tea.
When it comes to tea and head colds, you need to think anti-inflammatory, soothers, and antibacterial properties. Adding spices to your normal tea can offer some relief to your cold through the work of natural properties found in cloves, cinnamon, ginger, honey.
- Start with a basic tea or hot water (if you prefer not to use tea). Boil water to a comfortable drinking temperature, ranging anywhere between 120-150 degrees, depending on personal preference.
- Julienne or grate a teaspoon of fresh, raw ginger into your teacup.
TIP: Fresh ginger is preferred for its, well, fresh, medicinal properties and lack of additives. If you do not have fresh ginger on hand, use a pure grated/ground ginger (look for one that is certain to have no fillers, as they are often snuck into dried spices like ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric etc… and can range from flour, to corn, to far more sinister things like sawdust).
3. Cut a teaspoon worth of fresh cinnamon from a whole cinnamon stick.
TIP: Use kitchen shears to cut the cinnamon, as most often the cinnamon will break into pieces as it is cut. You can also use a tea ball to keep your fresh spices neat and easily removable from the hot tea.
4. Add a fresh clove or two.
TIP: Using the tea ball to keep all these small pieces of spice contained, with the exception of the fresh ginger, will prevent you have to chase them around the cup with a spoon when removing them from the tea.
5. Finish with fresh, raw honey. Add anywhere from two teaspoons to a tablespoon depending on your preference.
TIP: Honey is a soother and will coat the throat to offer relief from painful swallowing or a dry, scratchy throat. When combined with the heat of the tea/water and its ability to bring blood to the source, it can act as almost instant relief.
6. Mix all the ingredients into your hot tea/boiling water and let it stand, or brew, for 4 minutes.
TIP: As you drink the tea, at a comfortable temperature for your mouth, hold it against your upper palate for a few seconds and breath through your nose. If done properly, you will feel your sinuses slightly releasing or loosening from the heat of the water and vapors produced by the spices. (Note: Never attempt this with tea that is too hot, always test a small sip of the tea first to be certain the temperature is palatable.)
Antibacterial & Anti-Inflammatory Brews
Using the same tea recipe above, replace the spices with a teaspoon or two of raw, unfiltered, organic Apple Cider Vinegar.
This tea is far more pungent in flavor, and may be harder to drink for those who don’t use ACV on a normal basis. Having said that, the medicinal properties of ACV are endless, and some of those properties just happen to be its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory values. This will help to relieve throat pain by killing bacteria and clear and loosen sinuses passages.
Ginger and Honey Tea
If you are really feeling your head cold and want something simple, quick, and effective try making your own ginger and honey tea. You can actually make this ginger and honey concoction ahead of time and keep it refrigerated for everyday medicinal use and/or cold treatment. Simply multiply the raw measurements below, less the water, by the number of servings you want to create- then store in the refrigerator in a well-sealed mason jar.
- Julienne or grate a few tablespoons of fresh ginger.
- Add to boiled water.
- Add a few teaspoons to a tablespoon of raw organic honey. Mix and sip.
This amazingly light and easy to drink remedy will coat your throat as the anti-inflammatory properties of the ginger go to work. Ginger is also very calming for any stomach issues you may be experiencing with your cold or sinus drainage.
Yoga for Head Colds
Yes, while this may seem counter-intuitive to use what little energy you have for yoga, it will change the way you feel with simple breathing techniques that help relieve and open blocked sinuses, help produce effective coughs to clear the lungs, and relax sore, achy muscles.
Still not convinced? Start with this simple move.
Stand in the middle of your mat or a towel, if you don’t have a mat, with tissues within arms reach, and slowly roll forward, dropping your shoulders and rounding your back. Slide your hands down the front of your legs, as though they are on tracks, and roll down slowly into a standing forward fold (Uttanasana). Exhale slowly as you roll forward and down.
If your nose is stuffy, use your mouth for the first exhale. If you have a lot of head congestion and pain, this may seem uncomfortable at first, but give it a few minutes. Keep knees bent if needed.
From your forward fold, inhale deeply and slowly as you slide your hands up the front of your legs (still on those tracks) and lift into flat-back or Ardha Uttanasana. Keep your spine straight and back straight, with your gaze down at the floor.
Continue to mindfully slide up and down from flat-back position to forward fold, following the rhythm of your breath. Exhale as you fold down and inhale as you return to flat-back position. Force yourself to breathe through your nose and mouth until you can eventually breathe in an out through your nose alone.
As you get comfortable and loose, slightly speed up the pace. This will help to not only open your sinuses but to break up congestion that may be in the lungs, like an expectorant. You will likely have to stop for a moment or two and empty your sinuses or mucus from your lungs – so do this in some level of privacy, as it is effective when done properly.
If you’re suffering from clogged ears and a lack of equilibrium, this can be modified to cat-cow. Just remember, the motion you are aiming for is one that moves breath in and out of the lungs while opening (expanding) and closing (contracting) the chest. This will help loosen mucus and phlegm that has settled in the lungs.
If you feel impressed and rejuvenated from the last small sequence and want to try a full routine, we suggest focusing on routines specific to breathing techniques and poses that open the chest, promote stretching of achy muscles, and soothe rather than physically strengthen.
Two such routines are:
Yoga for When You’re Sick – Yoga with Adriene
Alternative Nostril Breathing – Yoga with Adriene
The Power of Essential Oils
Aromatherapy can be used at home and work to aid with congestion. Oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, lemon/lemongrass, lavender, and rosemary can offer much needed relief, in addition to their everyday medicinal benefits.
Using these tips and techniques on their own or in conjunction with one another can help speed along the time needed to recover from your head cold and bring some soothing relief to the most common symptoms.
Here’s hoping that your Ode to the Head Cold is as brief as possible!
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