Waking up with a sore throat and stuffy nose isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. If you’re feeling under the weather but still have things to get done, there are natural remedies you can try for a quick boost.
People have used holistic cures to treat illnesses long before the days of doctors and urgent care clinics. Many of these work comparably to or better than popular OTC remedies. They often go beyond abating symptoms, giving your body what it needs to jump-start your innate immune response.
Here are five natural remedies to try on your next sick day.
You might know about trikatu if you’ve ever visited an Ayurvedic medicine practitioner. This royal trio consists of the following:
- Indian long pepper
- Black pepper
This combination is so powerful that preliminary Western studies have identified it as a potential partner in managing COVID-19. It has potent antioxidant and immune-modulatory powers.
Ginger alone is an effective natural remedy to try the next time you feel sick. It also has a reputation for fixing tummy trouble, making it doubly effective if you also develop gastrointestinal symptoms. A gram or two of the root before travel will combat sickness and serves as a handy guide for mixing your trikatu recipe:
- 1 gram ginger, ground to a powder
- 1 gram Indian long pepper
- 1 gram black pepper
Mix the dried powders, adding a teaspoon of the spice blend to a cup of hot green tea. Add lemon and honey and sip your way to feeling better.
2. Red Pepper
Have you ever shuddered at a Mexican restaurant when you saw cloth napkins — because you knew the hot sauce would make your nose run like a faucet? If you guessed that this food is a potent decongestant, you’re right — and the hotter you go, the better.
Capsaicin, the chemical responsible for giving peppers their Scoville scale ranking, is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and one of the best remedies for sinusitis. Red pepper is so effective you can even find nasal sprays containing it among the OTC cold remedies.
However, it’s just as effective if you consume it, and you want to feed a cold to give your body the nutrients it needs to recover. It’s as simple as topping that baked potato with salsa instead of butter, slashing fat and calories while aiding your recovery.
To get capsaicin, you have to go for the hot stuff. Bell peppers have a 0 Scoville scale rating, meaning there’s none of the spicy stuff. However, don’t overlook that red bell. It has three times the vitamin C of an orange. Taking vitamin C at the first sign of cold symptoms can reduce the duration of your suffering by a day, but it won’t help if you’re already sick.
Why, then, do so many people rely on orange juice when they’re sick? It does have several healing properties. For example, it’s a great source of vitamin D, another nutrient you need more of when you’re ill.
During the pandemic’s heyday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on the topic, recommended vitamins D and C for managing COVID-19. While supplements of D3 line store shelves these days, there’s a better way for your body to get a usable form that’s the ultimate in bioavailability — go out in the sun.
Granted, this tip won’t work as well if you live above the 37° parallel latitude line in January. However, vitamin D isn’t the only reason to go outdoors for a bit on your next sick day. Here are two other reasons:
- Fresh air: Germs can recirculate through ventilation systems. Fresh air gives your lung cells a needed break.
- Mood improvement: Feeling down when you’re sick is natural, but a few minutes in bright sunlight cheers you up. Your mental state affects your recovery.
Even if your nose feels like it’s caked with cement, you should stay away from sprays containing oxymetazoline. This medicine creates a powerful rebound effect that leaves you feeling stuffier than ever when it wears off, and you can become addicted in no time.
However, just like the heat from capsaicin opens your nasal passages, so does breathing hot, steamy air. One simple trick is to boil water, remove the pot from the heat, and drape a towel over your head and shoulders to trap the steam as you inhale.
Neti pots are another natural remedy to ease congestion. Mix a half-teaspoon of salt with 4 ounces of water or use a store-bought saline solution to rinse your nasal passages.
Take a day off work if you can and use it to rest. Your wise decision goes beyond protecting your co-workers and preventing the spread of infectious disease — it speeds up your recovery. You need certain pro-inflammatory cytokines to fight illness, and your body makes them when you sleep.
Everything you do, even the mental energy you spend balancing a budget report, taps your reserves. Resting when you get sick lets your body devote its maximum resources to healing.
Besides, you can think of taking a sick day as a positive action to create a brighter tomorrow. After all, the United States remains the only wealthy nation to deny its citizens paid leave despite the pandemic’s lessons. However, this country should be run for and by all people, not just those with big profits. Staying home when you need to is your way of saying, “Work is important, but so is human health.”
It may not seem like much, but as Gandalf said in “The Lord of the Rings,” “I have found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk, that keep darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love.” Taking the rest you need is your simple act of kindness and love toward your colleagues and yourself, and if enough people do the same, change will come.
Try These Natural Remedies on Your Next Sick Day
Being sick isn’t fun, but it doesn’t always warrant a doctor’s visit. People have used natural remedies to spur their recovery since time immemorial.
Try these five natural remedies on your next sick day. You’ll speed your recovery and return from your rest with renewed vigor.