How to Kick a Cold

how to kick a cold

Whether you are a real food veteran or a noob, I find it useful to hear how my fellow traditional health peeps are using home remedies to beat back colds, flus, and viruses.  Maybe it’s just the satisfaction that comes from having a lot of “things to do” to fight a sickness when it hits.  I like when I find studies end up revealing what I already knew about home remedies and how they help support good health.

But regardless of what is proven or not, I find that these remedies really help me and my family.  I tend to go with my gut on a lot of these home remedies, knowing that more often than not: 1. they aren’t going to hurt me, 2. they are probably going to help me, and 3. there is a reason that home remedies evolved to be passed down in the first place; they tend to get proven by science sooner or later.

Earlier this week, I got slammed with a head cold.  Truthfully, I kind of knew it was coming.  You know how you can tell your immune system just isn’t going to block something?  I had that feeling.

So what do I do when I get a cold these days?  Especially now that I avoid the typical syrups and pills available at the pharmacy?

In true Kendahl form, let’s make lists!  I love me a good list.  Helps my brain feel organized, you know?

First, let’s talk equipment:

  1. HumidifierGet a humidifier!  This is the one thing I really do want from the pharmacy, though not really since everything is available on Amazon these days.  Running a humidifier can help keep your poor nose from drying completely out.  If you’re like me, you get a raw, red, dry nose after a day or two of tissue use.  If I run the humidifier I can keep my nose happy.  Plus, humidifiers help alleviate the pain of sore throats and coughs by making the air in your house or bedroom more moist.
  2. Neti Pot.  A neti pot is very useful, even if a little strange to use at first.  By using a simple saline solution (warm water with a small scoop of salt stirred in), you can cleanse your nasal passage with this simple little ceramic pot.  Neti pots are claimed to clear the nasal passage of excess mucous, pollen, and allergens so that you can breathe more freely.  Of course, I can’t make any health claims.  But when I use the neti pot, you can see the difference as you cleanse your nasal passage.  It’s pretty amazing!
  3. Garlic Press.  A garlic press is handy in general if you are a foodie.  But have you had a cold and practically hugged your garlic press?  Me neither…Anyways, I love this hefty garlic press, and this past week it has helped me crush several cloves of garlic for making tea and swallowing straight.  Garlic is claimed to have antiviral and antibiotic properties.  There have also been a handful of studies done that show that taking garlic shortens the amount of time that you are sick.

Now, let’s talk home remedies:

  1. Garlic, Lemon, and Honey Tea.  This one is simple: just boil water and pour over a a few cloves of crushed garlic, and one sliced lemon.  Let sit for 10 minutes or so to really let the garlic and lemon steep.  Then add a generous scoop of raw honey.  Garlic, lemon, and honey are all excellent for your throat and well-being when sick. 
  2. Elderberry Syrup.   I love that I found Cara’s recipe for elderberry syrup.  I changed it a little to fit what I had on hand.  I didn’t have any rose hips on hand, but I had gotten some camu powder (a vitamin C source like rose hips) and I mashed it into the honey before I added it to the syrup. 
  3. Coconut OilI used coconut oil a lot during my last cold, mostly as a lotion and lip balm.  I really struggle with staying hydrated when I’m sick.  It’s not just from not drinking enough fluids, it’s that I feel dehydrated in my skin and everywhere.  So putting coconut oil on my whole body really helps!
  4. Mullein TeaI wasn’t aware of mullein tea until I got really sick about a year and half ago and my ears got so plugged up they wouldn’t drain for about 3 months.  In fact, that sickness was what prompted my writing of my antibiotics post and ultimately the reason I started the GAPS diet to heal my gut.
  5. Crushed Garlic.  I took 4 cloves of garlic straight when I was sick last week, like a badass!  I pressed them through a garlic press, and then just swallowed them and chased them with milk and a few bites of buckwheat I was eating for breakfast.  Do not eat garlic on an empty stomach!  I have done that, and it’s not good!  Let’s just say that if you eat them on an empty stomach, your body will let you know, quickly, that they are coming back up!
  6. Apple Cider VinegarI was so happy when a reader on my Facebook page made a comment about apple cider vinegar helping sore throats.  I was complaining of how sore my throat was, and she said that she gargled with apple cider vinegar and it really helped with the pain.  I tried it, and it worked like a charm.  Somehow it numbed the pain and on top of that it helped me sleep all night.  I owe that reader a plate of cookies, because I got a good night’s rest because of that sore throat tip!
  7. Red Bell Pepper.  I just like red bell peppers.  It’s probably from when I was pregnant with my younger son and red bell peppers every morning helped settle my stomach and give me energy.  But I also know that red bell peppers are rich in vitamin C, which as you know, is very helpful when you’re sick.
  8. SauerkrautI love sauerkraut, usually for it’s lovely salty kick with a meal.  But when I’m sick I really love it for it’s healing properties.  Sauerkraut is claimed to have provided seafaring people with vitamin C on long voyages where fresh produce wasn’t available.  Plus, traditionally fermented sauerkraut has alleged probiotic qualities that can help you fight off an infection.
  9. Chicken Stock(Beef StockShellfish StockQuick Fish Stock.)  Enough said!  Stock is healing and anti-inflammatory.  I personally prefer chicken stock when I’m sick, it’s just so warming and savory.

And finally, here are my recommended supplements:

  1. True CalmAny time I take a stress hit I make sure I pay attention to taking enough True Calm.  I know that my body responds really well to it, and that I benefit from the amino acid support of this particular blend made by NOW.  I can’t make any recommendations, but I can say that I have a history of adrenal fatigue and I take True Calm in general and definitely when I’m sick.  Adrenals are the gland that absorbs all your stress.  In this day and age, they need all the help they can get!
  2. Vitamin B ComplexI am chronically low in vitamin B complex vitamins, so I make sure to take a little extra when I am sick.  They can be a little simulating, so I only take them in the morning or early afternoon.  B vitamins are helpful for supporting the immune system in general, but especially when you are sick.  I like this bran because I tend to absorb them really well.  I also like the fact that they are a food source supplement.
  3. Fermented Cod Liver Oil and High Vitamin Butter OilThese are available from Radiant Life, and are made by the best source of traditionally-fermented cod liver oil and butter oil made in in the country.  I always take a little extra FCLO and butter oil when I am sick to give me an extra boost.
  4. Vitamin C.  The small companies on my resource page have the best quality supplements available that I have found anywhere.  Plus, they support the work of the Weston A. Price Foundation and Real Food Media, and they are passionate about what they do.  Vitamin C supplements are excellent from these smaller sources and heads above anything you might find in your local grocery store.
  5. All AdrenalThis is dessicated grass-fed adrenal gland.  When I found this specific brand I was happy to see that it’s made in New Zealand where virtually all of their beef are grass-fed and well taken care of.  I take adrenal gland to stimulate my own adrenal glands when I am particularly sick.  Again, adrenal support is useful whenever the stress gets to you (like when you’re sick).  Also, again, I take this in the morning or early afternoon, since it can be stimulating and interfere with sleep.
  6. Therapeutic-Grade Probiotics.  I have been taking these probiotics for several months to help rebuild my gut flora.  The count is very high, which is what you want to look for in any probiotic that you take when you are sick or on GAPS.

Most of all, make sure that you sleep as much as possible and eat nourishing food.  We take it for granted these days that we can pop pills, and plow through our days in a drugged haze.  If you can, take care of yourself.  Take a nap, take a sick day.  If not, then meditate while you continue with work and family.  Most of all: keep your stress low, and feel better!  I know I am. 🙂

This post is a part of Sunday School, Weekend Gourmet, Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, The Mommy Club, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Full Plate Thursday, Fresh Bites Friday, Fight Back Friday, and Friday Food Flicks.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.


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  1. You and your vitamin C 😉 <3 No, really, great list! I need a neti pot… And bonus that the ACV goes down a lot easier when you can't smell it 🙂

  2. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

  3. Great post! It’s one thing we my husband or children are sick. But when *I* am sick there’s no one to take care of me. A simple check list to remind my fever addled brain is exactly what I need! Thank you!

  4. Garlic is a must, I’m thinking of fermenting some and keeping it in the fridge for the next time I feel a cold coming on. My go-to remedy for a cold is shiatsu massage, if I catch it during the early stages I can often avoid it altogether or at least minimize the duration/intensity.

  5. My gramma’s chicken soup was the best cold remedy. I have tried to reproduce it, but fall short. Still it has the garlic and chicken broth.

  6. 50,000 IUs of Vit D3 as soon as symptoms start – works for me every time.

  7. I swear by Blessed Maine Herb Farm’s Herbal Antibiotic Throat Spray. I only get sick when I don’t use it a couple of times a week (more if I’m around people who are sick). If I do happen to get a cold, a chiropractic adjustment clears my head faster than anything!

  8. Thank you for sharing- what a great list. Not sure I could eat 4 cloves of garlic at a time- you are a badass!

  9. Great ideas. I also swear by Umcka by Nature’s Way. It’s made from some sort of African root and works every time!

  10. Neti pot, check. Chicken broth, check. Garlic press, check (but am currently out of fresh garlic; will remedy that tomorrow–pun intended 😉

    As for the other items…it’s time to stock up. I don’t like being unprepared for colds–they’re just so miserable.

    Awesome post; thanks for sharing!!!

  11. Don’t forget the cayenne pepper! I use a tincture and also the powder to make gargles and infusions. Maybe not for children.

  12. cortney arnold says:

    I was so happy see the humidifier! I’ve been using one for almost three years now; it has helped to make my colds less severe. I tell people to get one and they look at me like I’m crazy.

    My new find! GARLIC LEMON HONEY TEA! Thank you! You saved me, and a co-worker I infected.

  13. All good stuff. Also, in the future if your ears are plugged a good chiropractor can adjust your ears. It’s actually really cool, and uncomfortable for just a minute. It’s a good option!

  14. When I even get the hint of a cold, sinus problem or congestion of any kind, I take 2 drops of Oil of Oregano, twice a day, in a small glass of orange juice. It really helps! I used to get bronchitis every year and when I started taking the oregano oil I have only had it once! I’ve been taking it for years now.

  15. Two drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear–one at a time–at the first sign will often stop a cold or flu before it can take hold. It will bubble if you are coming down with something, and just sit there if not. Sometimes one ear will bubble and the other not, so do both ears every time. We rarely get a full-blown cold or flu in my family anymore.

  16. Great post! I’m am pinning this for cold season. We gargle with warm salt-water for sore throats, I can’t wait to try the ACV! How have the Garden of Life supplements been w/ GAPS? I stopped taking the vitamins b/c I found out they contain yeast, but I love some of the other products in that line.

  17. Thank you for sharing this info!

  18. Hi! The information you posted on Mullein Tea was very helpful, and I was hoping to get just a bit more information. When your ears wouldn’t drain did you lose your hearing? I get ear infections all the time, but this is the first time I’ve had a near month long ear infection that has caused me to lose hearing in the infected ear. I’ve not had any luck with essential oils, my usual garlic, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, and I was wondering if Mullein Tea might help. Thanks for any help in advance!


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