Home Remedies for Winter

With Autumn (and Freshers’ Week) fast approaching it’s inevitable that we’ll soon be unable to escape that annoying sniffling and throat clearing on buses, in the library and pretty much every other public place you can think of. Ah the sound of British Winter.

Treating these sorts of coughs and colds can be a bit of a nuisance, especially as they seem to return every other week, just as you’ve drained the last drop of cough medicine from the bottle and finished the last cough drop from the packets scattered across your bedroom floor. Luckily there are many home remedies that you can whip up yourself in your kitchen or bathroom that (I think) will do a better job at making you feel better anyway. Here are a few easy ways to help relieve some of the most common symptoms of the winter cold.

By Lily Cannon


Honey, lemon and ginger tea

This is a classic, and actually very delicious, way to treat a sore throat or cold. When I was younger, I enjoyed drinking these so much that I actually used to request them even when I wasn’t ill. Make sure you’re stocked up on some honey (the better quality and more natural the better but any cheap supermarket brand will do), a huge piece of fresh ginger and a lot of lemons. While the kettle is boiling squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a mug, then add a spoonful of honey and finally grate in a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger. Then top up with boiled water. Of course, you can adapt this recipe to taste but I find this usually works best for me. The lemon and honey should help soothe your throat, while the ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory.

Inhalation with essential oils

For that heavy headed, blocked nose and bunged up feeling that is characteristic of most common colds, a home inhalation can be a life saver. Some essential oils that work well for easing the symptoms of a cough or cold by soothing the throat, fighting bacteria, and reducing inflammation are: eucalyptus, peppermint, nutmeg, bergamot, and cypress. Fill a bowl with freshly boiled water and put a few drops of your chosen essential oil in. Then lower your face to the bowl and place a towel over your head. Breathe like this for as long as you need to.

Salt-water gargle

This simple remedy is a great way to help alleviate the pain of a sore throat. Simply add half a teaspoon of sea salt to a mug that is about halfway filled with freshly boiled water and the other half cold water, so as not to burn your mouth. Make sure you test a bit of the water on your hand first to check the temperature is ok. When it is the right temperature gargle a mouthful of the water for about 40 seconds, then spit it out. Repeat process until you finish the cup. Just be careful not to swallow any as it is definitely not the most pleasant taste.

Foods to avoid and foods to help

Believe it or not your diet can play a big part in speeding up or slowing down your recovery when you are suffering from a cold. So, including or avoiding certain products or food types is a good way to help yourself. Some foods to avoid are: bananas and dairy products if you have phlegm or mucus, alcohol or caffeine, chocolate and foods high in sugar, refined carbohydrates like cheap bread and fatty or fried foods. On the other hand. Some foods to include in your diet are kale, broccoli, cranberries and green tea (all of which are high in antioxidants which will help you to fight off your cold), garlic, citrus fruits and of course soup made with good quality broth or stock.

Drink a lot of water

Keeping hydrated will help you loosen up congestion, stuffiness and mucus and will also replace fluids lost from any feverish sweats. Squeezing a bit of fresh lemon or orange into your water will give you some extra vitamin C, without being loaded with loads of sugar like shop bought juices are.

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