For the past several days I’ve been sick with a terrible headcold that’s going around. It came hard on the heels of a terrible multi-day allergy attack I had while trying to do some long-overdue decluttering my laundry room. I’m finally over all my congestion and a day where I had no voice, and hopefully soon I’ll be over the nagging tickling cough.
Mostly out of sheer sickness/laziness, I took care of my cold with what I had on hand in my house, applying new greener techniques to my symptoms, being sick as naturally as possible. Here’s a few things I’ve learned.
Honey Can Replace Cough Drops
I have a terrible gag reflex, and a tickly scratchy throat is not a good thing for me. I don’t happen to have any cough drops in my house, and needed relief. So I decided to try some honey. One slight dab of raw honey on my finger, applied toward the back of the tongue (not far enough back to gag!) , works awesome at calming a cough. I just let it melt onto my tongue and give a little swallow, and it coats my throat wonderfully. No big teaspoonful required. Now this isn’t an expectorant (mucus breaker), but it’s great for that annoying little cough. Like most cough drops, it doesn’t last a long time but it’s a good quick solution.
A Little Dab of Oil Can Save Your Nose
If you’re blowing your nose enough to go through a box of tissues in a couple days, that constant mucus and tissue bath can turn your nostrils into a dry, cracked, painful mess. I’ve never been a fan of tissues with moisturizer in them (I wear glasses so I find them annoying because they smudge), and now that I’m more aware of the petrochemicals in the moisturizer I’m even less likely to buy them. Every time I felt my nose getting a bit too dry, I put a little dab of almond oil on my finger and rubbed I around my nostrils. While I’m still sneezing and blowing like mad, and my nose is sore as heck, it’s been 7 days and my nostrils don’t look like a dry cracked river bed.
Use Natural Lip Balm
Let me get up on my soapbox for a minute. For years I have been an advocate for getting people off of chapstick (or some other petroleum based lip balm). I’ve known several people over the years who were chapstick addicts. They’d whip out that stick every 15 minutes, because their lips were uncomfortable. And they’ll almost always say they need that chapstick, because otherwise their lips get so dry and cracked and painful. As though their lips alone were just defectively dry. The truth that I’ve seen is that the petrochemicals in chapstick are addictive. The more you use it, the more you need it. Sure, it stops the pain…for 15 minutes. At the same time it’s drying out your natural moisture level in your lips, so that you constantly need it. My husband was one of these people. I changed him to a natural product years ago, and now he only has to pull it out occasionally, like in the dry winter months. A few days of usage and he can stop and not pick it up again for weeks.
I currently use Burt’s Bees lip balm in a tin. It has vitamin E, coconut oil, almond oil, lanolin, and comfrey. These ingredients heal the lips, rather than just covering the issue temporarily. I personally suggest the tin/pot-based ones rather than the stick-based. It’s a bit less convenient, but contains a better ratio of healing oils to beeswax. I know some people don’t like beeswax-based balm because it dries on the lips and feels “caked”. Basically, once the beeswax is drying it’s a sign that the oils in the balm have been absorbed by the lips. At this point it’s fine to wipe the remaining beeswax off your lips. If you still need more moisture because your lips are still healing, re-apply.
While I still use a combination of conventional/pharmaceutical and natural/homeopathic treatments for my symptoms, I tend to try to let things run their natural course if I can stand to do so. Of course knowing yourself and knowing your own body’s reactions will tell you whether things are getting beyond your control. Be in tune and choose natural solutions, but be smart and go to a doctor if you need help. Remember green is not a good color, and you should NEVER feel rattling at the bottom of your lungs. But if you’re going to handle a small cold on your own, you can go natural like I do.
Rather than suppressing my cough, I just drink plenty of cold liquids (iced tea, mostly) and use honey as above if it gets annoying. Lots of Vitamin C every couple of hours, hot herbal tea, warm soup, hot baths with eucalyptus and peppermint essential oil, taking off of work and resting in a closed room with the steam vaporizer on. All these old tried and true methods may seem archaic in this world of “better living through chemistry”, but they give small comfort and relief to carry us through as our bodies heal themselves naturally.