Natural Healing

Getting sick? 5 ways to combat the sniffles

Sebastian Smit/

You’ve done it now. You’ve shaken a few too many hands, or shared a drink you shouldn’t have. Now you regret it. Your head feels a little heavy; your nose is feeling a little stuffed and runny. Is that a fever? Is all this sinus pressure just allergies?

It can be hard to tell whether we’re coming down with a cold, virus or flu in the early stages. If the germs have already found their way inside, there’s not a whole lot we can do, right? Wrong. If you’re worried the rest of the your PTO this year is going to go towards sick time, here’s five things you can do from the first sign of the sniffles to fight back against colds and flu and lessen the blow or even avoid the illness altogether.

1. Stay hydrated

Drinking fluids is not new advice to the ill. Water serves to flush toxins and waste from our system on a healthy day, and when we’re not feeling at our best it becomes doubly critical. If you’ve come down with a virus or bug that creates vomiting or diarrhea, staying hydrated (and getting the proper electrolytes) is one trick in the magic act of getting better before you get worse. A good hydration guideline is consuming in ounces what half your body weight is measured in pounds, but a sick body which is loosing fluids may need more.

2. Eat garlic (and onions)

Yaroslav B/

Garlic as an agent in the war against bacteria, fungi and viruses is a tale told by (Italian) grandmothers for generations; onions also serve and antibacterial function. For some reason, clinical research has not seen full splendor of the positive effects but WebMD is keeping me from feeling like I imagined it all. Still, I personally stand behind the curative powers of garlic and onions — but do keep them out of your sock and avoid using them as decor. Full disclosure, I put garlic on everything and I really enjoy the taste, but if you’re not a fan, this strongly recommended advice might be a garlicky pill to swallow. I rarely fall ill (crosses fingers) which I think is at least in part due to my heavy garlic intake, but when I do feel a head cold or a case of the sneezes coming on, I will get that extra dose.

  • Fry a few cloves up with onions in butter (or olive oil), roast a whole head and spread it on toast, or sprinkle dried garlic powder on everything.
  • Fairway, in the section with all their store brand snacks, has dried garlic pods you could eat by the fistful like chips. You will reek of garlic if you eat too many though.
  • One last thing about garlic. Raw is the best way to consume it, with all its nutrients intact, but it can cause stomach upset and can be spicy on the tongue. Take the bite out of it by poking a few holes in a peeled clove and soaking it in (raw) apple cider vinegar for 10-15 minutes. It’ll be a lot easier to chew and swallow, but don’t waste the vinegar! Dilute in water if needed and take it like a shot so you don’t waste any of the healing goodness.

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3. Ready the honey

Honey is literally the only foodstuff that does not mold and expire. It works as an antibacterial, prevents infection, soothes allergies and works wonders on burns. It tastes great, too. Are you sold yet? Raw and/or Manuka honey (which kills MRSA!) is your best friend since the food isn’t heated (aka: processed), which compromises its healing properties. Take tablespoon on its own to soothe a sore throat, stir it into tea, or make yourself a peanut butter, honey and cinnamon sandwich.

4. Get better with Vitamin C

Mike Thorn/

Effervescent vitamin C is something I take on the regular to compliment other supplements and a mainstay when I feel a little under the weather. The nutrient helps boost immune function and prevent serious complications due to cold and flu, which is critical when we feel we’re coming down with something. About 500 mg is recommended for a get well soon dose, which can be achieved with a half dose of Vitamin C drink powder, chugging four to eight glasses of orange juice or popping a capsule, which may or may not allow your body to absorb the full amount of nutrition. Most effervescent Vitamin C comes in 1,000 mg doses, which is my daily minimum dose. I prefer Ener-C brand, which is non-GMO and also contains other nutrients, but Airborne, Emergen-C and store brand varieties are also available.

Because Vitamin C is not made by the body and any extra is excreted from the body, it’s hard to overdose on this good stuff. I take 1,000 mg on a normal day and 2,000 mg at the first sign on a sneeze.

5. Get that good sleep

After giving any one (or more!) of these remedies a try, be sure to hunker down for a good session of sleep. Sleep is not only critical to our overall health and well being, but is especially important when we’re sick.

Did we miss any of your sick day main stays? Tell us in the comments!

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