Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Home remedies for colds

Being sick and pregnant is a tough combination. It is not glamorous. I hardly have the energy to get up and make enough meals to keep me and the little one well-fed, let alone clean the house. It was bad enough during the first and second trimesters, but as big as I am, just walking around I can get winded without having a cold interfering. I think I'm currently fighting off my fourth cold since getting pregnant. 

Yesterday I was happy that I managed to shower, eat, nap, and make a list of things we still need to get ready for the birth of our baby boy. Oh, and I did one load of laundry. Big time productive, right? Luckily, I have help. I've got one amazing man who happily does the dishes, cleans the counters, carries clean laundry over to our room, and will even start new loads of laundry for me. He's also great at rubbing my back, bringing me water, and telling me what a great baby-grower I am. He's a huge help and totally sweet. I'm a lucky, lucky woman. I also happen to have an amazing midwife who will text me back right away if I ever have a question or need. And she is a wealth of information on how to heal yourself without medications. (Because, really, that's pretty much what you're limited to when you're sharing anything that comes into your body with a tiny baby.) 

So, for anyone who cares to hear about what crunchy alternatives to pharmaceuticals I've been using, here's a list of my favorite cold remedies: 

(A disclaimer-- I am not a health professional. These are things that are working for me, things that I've researched and tried out for myself. These are just some of my ideas and not medical advice.) 

1. Vitamin C. I mean, a BUNCH of vitamin C. I take between 12 and 20 500mg tablets every morning, and then a tablet every couple of hours for the rest of the day when I'm sick. But if you are in the early part of pregnancy, don't do this. 

2. ACV-- Apple Cider Vinegar. While I can't say that I would have wanted to try this all on my own, I've heard so many testimonials swearing by ACV that I finally gave it a try. Here's what I've been doing: Heat one cup of water until it is very warm (but not boiling), and then I add two tablespoons of ACV and another tablespoon or two of either raw honey or agave nectar and mix. Then you drink it down while it is hot and pretend that it is just apple cider. (Ignore the part of your brain that says, "If this is apple cider, it has gone bad.") It has a kick to it, but it really gets things moving along in the cold department. I actually don't mind it one bit. I had Jon try it and he said, "Well, it actually tastes a lot better than it smells." Luckily, if you are trying this remedy you probably aren't smelling things all that well, so there you go. 

3. Raw garlic. Again, you've got to do this to the extreme. One thing that I do is toast a piece of bread, throw some butter on top, and then add two crushed and chopped garlic cloves on top. Eat it as though it is a very garlic-y garlic bread. Another option that I do when I'm needing more fluids: warm garlic lemonade. Sounds fabulous, right? Well, here again you heat the water until it is very hot, but not boiling, then add some chopped up garlic cloves and lemon juice. (My midwife suggests just slicing up a lemon and throwing a bunch of slices in.) You let this mixture steep for about twenty minutes and then strain it. If you're using lemon slices, this would be when you'd want to squeeze the excess juice out of them. Then add raw honey, agave, or sugar to sweeten it up a bit. 

4. Vitamin D3. Again, you want to take more than what is normally suggested for a healthy person's supplement. My midwife suggests 10,000 iu per day. (That's 2 tablets usually.) 

5. Home-made chicken soup. Seriously, home-made chicken soup. Not the store bought stuff that has MSG and other back yuck in it. I make mine completely from scratch and change it up a little bit each time. Carrots are a staple, and then to add more bulk, I change up what else I throw in. Sometimes I make it with noodles, sometimes with rice, sometimes with potatoes. Then depending on the mood, I'll add onion slices, dill, or like now when I'm sick, I'll also throw in a few chopped up cloves of garlic at the end. I leave the salt and pepper for the table where Jon and I can season our soups to our own tastes. 

6. Keep the fluids coming. Besides my ACV concoction, I make sure to drink more than enough fluids. As a pregnant lady, I already have to pee all the time, so I figure, what's another couple of trips to the bathroom? I drink lots and lots of water. I keep one of those BPA-free adult sippy cups around at all times and refill it constantly. For hot beverages I do okay with drinking those quickly out of a mug. While I do think that water is the best thing to flush your system and to replenish fluids, I also drink lots of herbal tea (unsweetened). Stay really well hydrated. It helps all around. 

Yesterday I also tried "pulsing" wherein I took a hot shower and let the hot water run down my face and neck for a minute and then alternated that with putting a cold wet towel over my face and neck. My midwife says that it helps clear the lymph nodes. If nothing else, it actually felt really great to combine that with a little face massage. I also broke out my neti pot in the evening, but I can't say that I feel like that did much. But I did sleep with a humidifier next to my side of the bed and I do think that that helped not feeling all dried out in the morning. 

A small confession? The whole right side of my face was hurting so bad from sinus pressure that I did finally take a Tylenol right before getting to bed. Sleep is important enough that I felt justified in taking that one pain relieving tablet. 

And I've got this to report: I'm already feeling much better today. Better than I thought possible considering how cruddy I felt yesterday. I really believe that there are many things in nature that can cure you or can help your body kick into self-healing mode without the concern of icky side-effects. That being said, I also understand that there are times and situations where certain medications are the right choice. 

So there you have it, my kick-your-cold-in-the-butt home remedies that actually work. (For me, at least.) 

Now I'm off to drink some more apple cider vinegar. 


  1. Thanks for sharing! My moms cure all when I was growing up was ACV. I actually kinda like the stuff now... Haha!

    1. I'm so glad that I'm not the only one that likes it. I guess if your body needs it, it'll taste good, right?

  2. I love natural remedies. Cold medicines don't really help, they just mask the symptoms so I try to only use natural remedies for me and my kids. It's nice when you get in the habit of it while pregnant because when nursing you have to do the same thing and then since it's routine treating the entire family that way becomes second nature.

    I remember when I was pregnant with Brooklyn I got one of the worst colds of my life. It lasted forever and not being able to take medicine was brutal. I had no idea about natural remedies back then, I wish I had!

    1. So well put! I've been trying to do more and more natural remedies over the last few years, but every once in a while I resorted to OTC medications. You're totally right, they just mask symptoms, which might give you a little boost, but it won't make you better. Pregnancy has been a good way for me to finally kick the cold medicine habit once and for all. Thanks for reminding me that this isn't something that I'll just deal with right now but that it is a habit that I'm building to help my whole family in the future. It is a good reminder to help push me to continue researching out natural cures.