Whatever the season, we all suffer from congestion from time to time. Feeling bunged up and congested is rotten, and breathing, physical activity and concentrating are just some of the areas that get affected when we are blocked up like this. It’s true that even simple everyday tasks feel like a chore because we feel stiff, sore and like our heads are stuffed with cotton wool.
Off the shelf medications like chemical-laden cough syrups decongestants and antihistamines have their own unpleasant side effects, so when we are looking for relief what are the alternatives? Luckily, there are a number of treatments that can help you feel better fast; treatments that are both natural and effective. Let’s take a look at my family’s favourite natural remedies for relieving coughs, colds & congestion that work every time.
Steam Inhalation Therapy
Inhale steam to ease your congestion and stuffy nose. Steam helps to relieve congested sinuses and coughs by adding extra moisture to the air and thins the mucus in your tubes to loosen congestion in the lungs, making it easier to breath.
This is how you do it.
- Hold your head about 10 inches above a pot of boiled water.
- Place a towel over your head to create a ‘mini tent’. This helps to create a steamy atmosphere for you.
- Inhale the steam by breathing slowly and gently through your nose. Take care not to let the steam scald your nose.
If you prefer not to use a bowl you can try a vaporiser of humidifier to get the same effect. Moisture from a hot shower with the door closed or saline nasal spray is just as helpful to ease congestion.
Add essential oils for extra relief
You can add a few drops of essential oils that are known to help ease the distress and symptoms of respiratory infections and illness into the water. To get optimal results use steam inhalation therapy two to four times a day.
Peppermint is a natural anti-inflammatory, so it gets straight to work at soothing mucus membranes. It also provides instant, but short-lived, relief from sinus stiffness and pain.
I have found this to be helpful remedy for improving healthy lung function because it helps to alleviate that feeling of tightness.
New research has discovered oil of oregano’s benefits as an antibacterial, antioxidant, antifungal, and antiviral. Used in a steam inhalation, oil of oregano can help relieve coughs and other upper respiratory cold and flu symptoms.
One of the natural chemical components in thyme is carvacrol, a compound that appears to fight infection as effectively as antibiotics. Carvacrol is found in other essential oils such as oregano.
Other essential oils that may relieve upper respiratory symptoms include eucalyptus, cinnamon and rosemary. These herbs can help to soothe coughs and help you to breath more easily by relieving nasal congestion.
- Eat plenty of garlic
This may not be the most appealing of natural treatments, but garlic is known to be one of the most effective ways to deal with congestion. It has antiviral and antifungal properties that help ward off an attack infections that bring on congestion.
There are lots of different ways to use Garlic as a remedy. It’s most effective in this respect when eaten raw. We find it delicious added to salad dressings and mayonnaise. If however, if you can’t stomach it, try adding a couple of chopped cloves to a cup of hot water and drinking or breathing in the fumes. Alternatively, lightly sauté it and add it to your favourite recipes.
- Take a shower
Just like steam inhalation the steamy atmosphere in your shower relieves stuffy noses. Take a few minutes in a shower, you will notice that you’re congestion symptoms feel a little better, for a short time at least. Like humidifiers and vaporizers, the steam from the shower thins the mucus in your nasal passages and reduces inflammation of your sinuses. Also, it just helps to clear your headache and make you feel better which can help when you’ve got important things to get on with.
- Use cold and warm compress
Compresses can be used as often as necessary and are especially helpful at night to help you drift off to sleep. They are especially effective when your head and sinuses are throbbing. Depending on the type of congestion may want to use a cool or warm compress to relieve this pressure. Apply them to your forehead, over your eyes and nose to help with the discomfort. It may also be comforting to add a little peppermint or eucalyptus oil to the compress before placing it over your nose. This will open your tubes and will help you breathe easier. Do keep essential oils away from your eyes as the oil can cause irritation.
- Drink plenty of fluids
Drinking plenty of water and warm herbal teas will help to keep you hydrated while you are feeling under the weather from congestion. Fluids will help keep your strength up and will deal with other symptoms associated with congestion like a sore throat. We love Sage Tea for instant relief from a sore throat (HINT: add a big teaspoon of Manuka Honey).
- Add Coconut oil to your diet.
Coconut oil extracted from the coconut palm is one of the most powerful, natural antiviral compounds known to man. Research shows that it has the amazing ability to target just about any virus, and that includes the common cold.
It works because it is rich in medium-chain fatty acids. These are absorbed directly into viral cells where they dissolve the protective coating of the virus, rendering it harmless to your body.
The recommended dose to help prevent infection is one flat tablespoon of cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil every day (HINT: I add it to my raw green shakes). If you feel cold symptoms starting, increase that to two tablespoon as this can stop the virus from taking hold and speed your recovery if you succumb.
What do you think?
Have you tried natural remedies for winter chills or Spring time hayfever? What has been effective for you? Can you offer any additional tips advice on using nature’s cures for the common cold? We would love to hear from you.
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