The Ultimate Cold Season Survival Guide
Updated: Dec 21, 2019
(featuring natural and homeopathic remedies)
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It’s that time of year when throats get sore, noses start running, and body aches settle in. Cold and flu season can be a dreadful (and scary) time of year, but I have some prevention tips and remedies that may help you stay healthy, without the use of harsh drugs or medications that can leave you in a fog.
Please note that I am not a medical professional. These are some products that have worked for my family in preventing illness and/or alleviating symptoms. As always, I would recommend consulting your family physician before starting any new regimen.
I had heard from a co-worker about a homemade elderberry syrup that was great for keeping the family healthy during the cold/flu season. I started doing my own research and found that elderberry is widely used as a natural cold prevention by many. I haven’t yet tried a homemade version of the elderberry syrup but hope to in the future. (If you have a recipe you’d like to share, please list it in the comments below!)
I have tried a few different brands and variations of this natural remedy and below are my favorites
This syrup tastes great with a tart, berry flavor. You can dilute it in juice or tea if you’d like, but I just take a couple teaspoons straight. The liquid form is also a convenient way to give elderberry to your little ones. (Ask your pediatrician for dosing suggestions and to determine if elderberry is right for your child.) My two year old son drinks it right up and so far so good on the colds this winter!
I love the convenience of these capsules. I’ve been taking them regularly for several months now and have had no adverse side effects. Also, when I’m feeling a scratchy throat or sniffles coming on, I take an extra capsule a day and so far, it has proven to prevent my symptoms from getting worse. There are a million different brands out there, but this one seems to work well for me so I’m sticking with it. It is also very affordable and you can get an extra discount if you choose the “Subscribe and Save” option on Amazon. This means they will send you a bottle every 1 or 2 months (you choose) so that you never run out and, most importantly, stay healthy!
We all know that essential oils are “trendy” right now with all your friends and relatives trying to sell you on Young Living or DoTerra oils. While I think both of these brands offer great, high quality oils (some of which I use regularly), I have found some oils of similar quality that can be purchased at a much lower cost.
As a rule of thumb, when using essential oils around children, be sure to take extra precautions. My child has been exposed to oils since he was a baby, so we know how he reacts to them. Essential oils can be very potent so they must be diluted when used for children.
This delightful and spicy blend is comparable to “Thieves” or “On Guard” sold by Young Living and DoTerra. The comforting scents of sweet orange, lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, and other oils are combined in this blend to provide protection during the cold winter months. Here are some of the benefits of the oils used in this powerful blend:
Lavender - naturally calming, antiseptic qualities, may help with stress and anxiety
Orange – uplifting and energizing scent; anti-microbial
Tea Tree - anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and other properties
Eucalyptus – helps support respiratory system; anti-inflammatory and natural decongestant properties
You can use this blend in a variety of ways. My favorite is in an oil diffuser. You can diffuse this in any room of the house to benefit from the antimicrobial effects and the warm, inviting fragrance. If you have little ones at home like I do, try diffusing just a few drops in their room at night. I also like using a small diffuser on my nightstand at bedtime.
You can make a natural household cleaner by adding a few drops of Medieval Mix to a spray bottle with water and white vinegar.
Another option to consider is to add a drop to the sole of each foot once or twice a day. (Of course, if you have sensitive skin or are afraid of a reaction, you can dilute the blend by adding a drop to a rollerball filled with coconut or grapeseed oil.) This is a great way to receive the therapeutic benefits of this oil blend.
This lovely woodsy scent just makes me feel so warm and cozy when I put a few drops in my diffuser. While it has astringent and antioxidant properties, it also has a very grounding and calming effect on the body. I love mixing a few drops of Aura Cacia Texas Cedarwood with a couple drops of orange or lavender for an amazing blend that makes me feel like I am basking in a warm, sunny, cedar forest.
Another great option for this oil is to put a drop on the bottom of each foot before bed. I suffer from insomnia and struggle to relax my brain at night. (More tips on that below.) When I am feeling extra anxious or unable to sleep, a drop on each foot will really relax me enough to drift to sleep.
I am a lover of all teas, but I especially enjoy herbal teas during the chilly winter months. There are so many great herbal tea varieties out there, which taste great while also offering natural health benefits. Here are a few of my faves.
I only recently discovered this tea but it is now a staple to keep stocked in my tea cupboard at home. It has a mild, slightly spicy flavor with hints of cinnamon and peppermint. This tea also features elder-flower which is known to boost immunity, and hyssop herb which is a natural cough reliever and expectorant. When I drink this tea, I feel like I am doing something great for my body. Whether you are trying to prevent a cold or relieve some of the symptoms, this is a great tea to provide comfort and promote relaxation.
Celestial Seasonings has been one of my go to brands for teas as they are sold in nearly every grocery store in my area. (I recently had a chance to visit their factory in Boulder, CO and take a free tour. Something I highly recommend to any tea-lover!)
Sleepytime Tea is this company’s number one seller. While the classic Sleepytime blend is great, I also enjoy the Throat Tamer, Sinus Soother, and Echinacea Complete Care. I keep at least one of these blends in my pantry at all times during the fall and winter months to help soothe those scratchy throats and sniffles that seem to pop up unexpectedly.
I’m adding this one to my list just because I love the yummy flavor and relaxing benefits of the herbs in this tea. It includes chamomile, Gotu kola, and lavender, to name a few. It has a light floral, citrus aroma and a somewhat fruity flavor. This tea pairs well with a soft blanket and a good book.
Light Exercise or Yoga
Even when I am feeling not great, it always helps if I take a quick walk or do yoga. If you don’t have the full-blown flu or are not bed-ridden with a debilitating cold, some light exercise and sunshine can do wonders. I have had a scratchy throat and some sinus pressure these past few days, but have gathered up enough self-motivation to do some yoga stretching and breathing exercises. This (along with the aforementioned remedies) seems to be keeping my symptoms from progressing into something worse. For me, getting my body moving makes me feel more alive, improves circulation, and definitely boosts my mood.
Plenty of Good Sleep
As we all know, a good night’s rest can do the mind and body wonders. Especially during the cold season, it’s important to nurture your body by getting good sleep. What has worked for me is a nighttime routine of a hot shower, herbal tea, melatonin, and reading in bed with my Kindle. This combination typically helps me relax, clear my mind, and fall asleep fairly quickly.
I have struggled off and on over the years with my sleep patterns and have been using Melatonin for quite some time now. The body produces melatonin naturally, but a melatonin supplement helps boost your melatonin levels to help you fall asleep quickly. I only use this “as needed” and try not to use it every night as I think it is important to rely more on your nightly routine than a supplement. (As always, consult your physician before beginning this supplement.) However, melatonin has proved useful for me on those nights I need help falling asleep
Cold Season Survival
I hope you have enjoyed reading some of my recommended tips and remedies. These things have worked for me and it is my hope that they help you during the cold, winter nights ahead. Let me know if you have tried any of these remedies in the comments below. Feel free to share some of your favorite natural remedies as well!