By Shira Lenchewski, MS, RD
Along with cozy socks, automated away messages, and pumpkin-spiced everything, this time of year brings its fair share of sniffling, coughing, and sneezing. The good news is there are ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen that double as cold remedies — so relief is on the way!
Here are 4 of my favorite natural DIYs for taming the cold symptoms:
1. Sip (spicy)
Staying hydrated is crucial for combatting congestion. Fluids help thin out the mucus in the sinuses and lungs. This is important, because the longer it lingers, the sicker you get. So do yourself a favor and drink at least 8 oz of fluid every two hours. And the spicier the fluid the better…
Fresh Ginger-Tumeric Root Tea
1 small piece organic ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 small piece organic turmeric, peeled and finely grated
1 organic lemon, juiced
Instructions: Place the grated ginger and turmeric in a tea filter or infuser and let steep for 5-8 minutes. Pour in lemon juice and enjoy.
Inhaling hot, steamy air is another great way to break up mucus and relieve congestion. And while I love a full-body shvitz, this at-home facial steam works wonders.
At-Home Facial Steam
Boil 1-2 cups water in a large pot. Remove from heat and add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice, or 1/2 cup vinegar. Cover for 5 minutes, and place your face at a comfortable distance from the steam, taking care not to burn your skin. Place a towel over your head to hold in the steam and breathe deeply (through the nose if you’re stuffy, or through the mouth for chest congestion). Inhale the steam for as long as you feel comfortable (aim for 10-15 minutes).
Gargling with briny salt water helps combat a sore throat two ways: neutralizing acid and thereby killing germs, and soothing irritated throat tissue.
Salt Water Gargle
Mix 1/4 teaspoon sea salt in warm water (the hottest water you can tolerate comfortably). Gargle. Spit. Repeat.
Soaking in relaxing Epsom salts not only promotes restful, restorative sleep, but also helps decrease inflammation throughout the body. Often used as a “detox bath,” the magnesium and sulfate from Epsom salts are absorbed through the skin, causing toxins to be drawn out via osmosis. And the baking soda helps make the water more alkaline, for added mineral absorption.
Epsom Salt Soak
1-2 cups Epsom salt
1 cup aluminum free baking soda
Instructions: Draw your bath with comfortably hot water. Add Epsom salt (aka Magnesium Sulfate) and baking soda. Soak for 40 minutes.
And remember, be good to yourself! Give yourself time to heal, go easy on the scheduled events, and get plenty of rest. Your body will thank you.
Shira Lenchewski, MS, RD (Registred Dietitian) has a strong science foundation, and a meaningful understanding of the interplay between food and the body. Pulling from her Nutritional Science Master’s education at NYU, and her deep love of good food, Shira is skilled at designing sustainable and realistic eating plans that work for even the most demanding lifestyles. Shira is the resident nutrition expert at LaurenConrad.com, and has been featured on Glamour.com, POPSUGAR Fitness, Refinery29, The Real Girl’s Kitchen, and Fitness Magazine, amongst others. Shira’s approach is built on a clean-eating lifestyle, emphasizing whole, organic foods with big flavors. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband.