Fighting a Cold Naturally
Fighting a Cold Naturally
**”Star Blanket River Child” by Brightblack Morning Light really captures that “cold medicine” psychadelic feeling and clocks in at ten minutes long – a song that seems to last forever, much like the common cold.**
It’s cold season again, which means that we’re all stocking up on tissues, hand sanitizer, vitamin C and zinc. When the weather gets cold, we tend to spend less time outside and confine ourselves to warm, indoor spaces. As a result, schools are a hotbed of illness, as are daycares, your workplace, hospitals, grocery stores, etc.
Some people get one or two colds every year, whereas others don’t seem to get sick at all. I had my first cold in probably eight years, just a few weeks ago. This may sound incredibly crazy, but I was excited to have a cold. Yes. You read that correctly. I was excited to be sick. Obviously, I don’t enjoy being sick and when I’m sick, I seem to have temporary amnesia and can’t remember a time when I didn’t sneeze, have a stuffy nose, or cough uncontrollably. Regardless, it was exciting for me because it meant that my immune system was finally healthy.
Western medicine perpetuates a culture of fear around illness and generally sees disease as a problem to be solved or fixed. Sometimes this is 100% accurate, particularly when someone has a serious disease like cancer. Oftentimes, though, you just need to slug through a cold or flu and build immunity. When your body reacts to an illness, it means that your immune system is healthy and robust – it has the resources to actually fight the virus. If you eat nutrient dense food, get rest, drink more fluids and GET OUTSIDE, you will fight your infection faster and feel better mentally. This all sounds completely obvious and easy to do, but most people continue to go to work and ignore the signals that their body is sending them: slow down and heal.
For those of us with children, a cold or the flu seems to last forever. It usually enters the house with one person and slowly takes down the whole house. If your child has Sensory Processing Disorder, a simple cold becomes debilitating. No matter how hard you try to rationalize a stuffy nose or body aches, a hypersensitive child will be convinced that they are dying. You can laugh, but it’s absolutely true. My kids were unable to blow their noses until very recently. The feeling of mucus in their nose was terrible, but not as bad as trying to get it out. Remember, these kids are incredibly aware of everything on and around them – any sort of discomfort will appear magnified, but is completely valid. If, on the other hand, you have a child who is hypo-reactive, they won’t even notice that their nose is running or will seem totally fine, despite a hacking cough and persistent sniffles (which might drive you completely crazy).
Thankfully, there are some natural solutions for colds and the flu that work really well for hypersensitive kids (and anyone else who avoids cold medicine). Here is a short list of what I do or have on hand:
Epsom salts and essential oils for long baths (if you have a hanging curtain, close it for a hyper-humid environment)
Hot showers or a steam bowl bath
A warm rice sock (place the sock on inflamed sinuses or behind the neck)
Cold sock treatment at bedtime (while it sounds crazy, this has significantly shortened cold symptoms in our house)
Soup made with homemade bone broth, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, scallions, and as many hot peppers as you can handle
Hot tea with lemon and honey (licorice-based teas help get rid of mucus)
Kombucha or probiotic drinks
Homemade elderberry syrup (you can take this daily, or as needed)
A Neti Pot for children 6 and up (it took a bit of coaxing, but both of my kids will use one!)
A warm mist humidifier at night with extra pillows to keep the head raised
A weighted blanket, which acts like a big hug and calms the nervous system
Skin-to-skin contact or massage
If you’re breastfeeding, breastmilk is all you need! Nurse frequently and put milk in stuffy noses, clogged eyes/tear ducts and ears.
Popsicles – the best tool in your parenting/care-taking arsenal
Getting a cold or the flu is part of life and happens to coincide with the changing seasons (which can also be when our mental state starts to deteriorate). It generally doesn’t warrant a trip to the doctor or a pharmacist, unless your child is exhibiting severe symptoms such as wheezing, coughing up blood, or an illness that has lasted longer than expected. Washing your hands with regular soap (avoid antibacterial soaps, please), eating vitamin and nutrient dense food, avoiding sugar, resting, and drinking plenty of fluids should help with most symptoms. If you’re truly miserable or if you have a hypersensitive family member, use any and all of the above-mentioned coping tools. Remember, your immune system is functioning just like it should and you’ll be feeling better before you know it.
***Full disclosure about affiliate links: Rocksteady Life receives a small commission if you purchase items through the Amazon links. However, I would never recommend anything that I don’t stand behind and would prefer to recommend locally sourced options.***