How to Support Yourself Through a Cold

By Judith Reid - Naturopathic Nutritionist -

Colds can range from a mild inconvenience to a full-blown, pesky, stuffed-up, head-throbbing fest.

From a Naturopathic point of view, the body’s toxic load has edged over the acceptable limit and invited in a cold to help clean up. From a more traditional view, the immune system is under par and has left its gates wide open, allowing all and sundry (in this case a cold) to step right in and take hold! Whichever way you look at it, it’s time to give yourself some much needed TLC.

Modern culture dictates that you battle on when ill, especially when it’s “only a cold”, but a cold is just one of many ways the body has of telling you that you need to slow down a little.

Here are a few tips on how to support yourself through a cold.

Clear your diary as much as possible
Not easy, but essential. If you are carrying on regardless, precious energy which ideally should be focussed on you getting better will instead be wasted on rushing around, trying to work or whatever usually makes demands on your time. This means that the healing process is delayed, and hence why most times, colds linger far longer than expected.

Avoid stress
This is a variation of the previous point. If you are stressed, the body won’t be worried about clearing up a cold. As far as it is concerned, there is a life-and-death situation to tackle and all resources will be used up for that. This is one good reason not to soldier into the office. Odds are that you’ll get stressed sometime during the day.

Drink plenty of water
Water helps to cleanse the cells and thin both the lymph (part of our immune system) and any mucus, thus helping to flush out the cold. It’s better to drink it warm, rather than cold.

Lemon, Onion and Honey


First sign of a cold, put a sliced up lemon and chopped up onion into a jug and pour over boiling water. Allow to stand for a while. Throughout the day drink cups of this, topped up with freshly boiled water and a teaspoon of honey. This helps to cut through the congestion and is soothing to a sore throat.

Eat lightly and keep to warming foods
The old saying “if you feed a cold, you’ll have to starve a fever” is often shortened to “feed a cold”. Digestion takes up a lot of energy and during illness, we want to concentrate energy on healing. Eat as lightly as possible and stick to easily digested warm foods and drinks such as soups and herbal teas.

Try to avoid over-the-counter cold medicines
Painkillers and decongestants etc only serve to remove symptoms and suppress the body’s attempts at cleansing you of the cold. A cold is a good opportunity to let it all out!!

Steam Inhalations and nasal lavages
Make up a steam inhalation: a few drops of eucalyptus / tea tree oil in boiled water in a basin. Lean over and make a tent over your head with a towel. Now relax and breathe in.

Another nice technique is to dissolve salt in comfortably warm water. Cup a little of the solution in the palm of your hand and snort up each of your nostrils.

Both methods help to clear congestion, especially good if you are bunged up.

Stay warm – but not too warm


Keep warm (perhaps wear a scarf), but don’t have the heating on full pelt as this can contribute to more congestion. It’s a good idea to have an open window to allow a little fresh air in. If feeling up to it, go for a gentle walk, but don’t attempt anything too strenuous.

As with any illness, go gentle on yourself and treat yourself with the love and attention that you would a loved one.

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