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Beating the Cold this New Year

It is officially the new year and cold and flu season is among us. Obviously, the best treatment is to avoid the cold but some years you will get a cold no matter how careful you are. If you do succumb to sickness, I have compiled some of my favourite and effective home remedies to combat flu and cold season this year.


1) Hot Epsom Salt Bath

One of my favourite remedies for fast relief from a cold/flu is a steamy bath.

Lauren’s Bath Recipe:

  • 1 cup Epsom Salt
  • 8 drops Eucalyptus essential oil

Add Epsom salts under warm running water. Next, add 8 Eucalyptus drops. Soak for desired time.

The epsom salts and warm water are great for easing muscle stiffness. Eucalyptus will open your airways and relieve congestion. Both Epsom salts and Eucalyptus oils can be purchased from your local drugstore.


2) Neti Pot

If you are suffering from a lot of congestion, try a Neti Pot. This is not the most attractive way to get rid of congestion but it does work if used properly. A Neti pot is a container designed to rinse debris or mucus from your nasal cavity. You can use a Neti pot to treat symptoms of nasal allergies, sinus problems, as well as colds.

If you choose to make your own saltwater solution, it’s important to use bottled water that has been distilled or sterilized. Tap water is acceptable if it’s been passed through a filter with a pore size of 1 micron or smaller or if it’s been boiled for several minutes and then left to cool until lukewarm.

To use the Neti pot, tilt your head sideways over the sink and place the spout of the neti pot in the upper nostril. Breathing through your open mouth, gently pour the saltwater solution into your upper nostril so that the liquid drains through the lower nostril. Repeat on the other side.

Be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and leave open to air dry.

To ensure the congestion does not return, it is important to get all of the solution out of your nasal pathway.


3) Breathing Exercises

The exercises below may seem a little ridiculous but they do aid in clearing your nasal cavity and preventing return of congestion.

  1. Exhalations:
    Exhale vigorously through both nostrils while holding your head over the sink. Quickly drawing the abdomen toward the spine with each exhalation will make your exhalations more forceful. If you exhale into a tissue, be careful not to pinch the nostrils closed while exhaling.
  2. Forward Bending:
    Bend forward from the waist far enough so that the top of the head is pointing toward the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds, then return to standing. Follow this movement with a few vigorous exhalations.
  3. Alternate Toe Touching:
    Place your feet two to three feet apart. Raise the arms out to the side at shoulder height. Slowly bend from the waist and bring the left hand to the right knee, shin, or foot (whichever you can reach without straining). Reach up toward the ceiling with the right hand; turn the head gently and look toward the raised hand. Hold this position for a few seconds. Come back to standing and repeat the movement to the left. Exhale vigorously through the nose.


4) Hot Water with Lemon and Honey

For sore throat relief, my mother would always make me drink hot water with lemon and honey. This always gave me instant relief. The relief however, could have also been from the fact that my mom was making the drink for me. I have added that someone else make the tea for you in my instructions if you are feeling under the weather!

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • Have a family member or friend add ingredients to a mug of hot water and stir until is honey dissolved. Then bring to your bedside for optimal relief.


5) VICKS VapoRub



For relief from a cough when sleeping, I like to use VapoRub. I find that it helps me fall asleep easier. You can also reapply if awoken from coughing. Other tips for a good sleep are to raise your head on an extra pillow and use a humidifier.

My best advice is to just try and avoid the cold by keeping your immunity up and washing hands frequently.


Author: Lauren Smith, B.Sc.

Toronto Yonge Eglinton Physiotherapy Assistant 



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