If you have caught a cold, the chances are good that you also have an infection of the upper respiratory tract. Chrystle Fiedler writes in the "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Natural Remedies," when the immune system fights a cold, the symptoms are often congestion, sore throat, watery eyes and cough. The average American adult suffers from a cold several times a year, and herbal or nutritional remedies may help to boost the immune system when fighting congestion. Please note the FDA has not proven herbs to be effective in treating disease.
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Numerous herbs have been noted throughout history to help treat colds and congestion. Dorie Byers suggests in her book "Growing Herbs for Cold and Flu Relief," trying thyme, peppermint, echinacea, rosemary, ginger and yarrow. You can grow these in a garden yourself, or find them in bulk where medicinal herbs are stocked in a health food store. If buying the herbs loose, throw in 1 to 2 tsp. of herb per cup of water. Place the herbs at the bottom of a cooking pot and pour the correct amount of water. Bring the water to a boil and immediately turn off. Allow the herbs to steep covered for 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey if desired. You can also add sliced lemon or ginger to the hot water for a traditional cold remedy. Herbal remedies are not meant to replace medical treatment.
Nutritional Supplements and Diet
Laurie and Alex Steelsmith write in their book "Natural Choices for Women's Health," that zinc, vitamin A and C and thymus extracts, along with consumption of warm fluids such as chicken or miso soup, may help to soothe and moisten the mucous membranes. Eat a diet that includes immune boosting and mineral-rich foods, such as kale, broccoli, yams, carrots, shitake mushrooms and seaweeds. Make sure meals are balanced with lean protein and whole grains, as well as a variety of deeply-colored vegetables.
Byers also suggests making a natural decongestant with the herbs catnip and rosemary, along with eucalyptus essential oil. Take a muslin tea bag, and add equal part of both the herbs and 5 drops of the essential oil. Squeeze the bag to inhale and relieve congestion. You can also add 1/2 cup of this mixture to 1 qt. of simmering water and inhale with a towel over your head. Byers also suggests to letting the dry herb blend sit in your car. The aroma will spread and create a fresh fragrance to enjoy while driving.