It’s that time of year again. With the weather changing and stress levels running high, it’s no wonder students find themselves getting sick around exams. This leaves many wondering, “Do I go to the health center now? Or should I wait and keep studying?” Hey, we get it. It seems like there’s no time to take care of yourself with your future on the line. That’s why we compiled a list of home remedies you can use to fight off sickness, whether you’re feeling a little down already or if you want to take preventative measures. Hopefully this will make life a little easier.
DISCLAIMER: We are not saying you should use holistic remedies in lieu of professional medial help, but rather as preventative measures for minor ailments. If you are ill, please consult your student health center or primary physician. It is always recommended that you consult your doctor if you are unsure if you should be taking a supplement or not.
Here are some of the easiest ways to avoid that inevitable finals week illness and save yourself a little unnecessary stress.
Raw Garlic: It may not sound like the most appealing thing in the world, but eating raw garlic on an empty stomach is actually a very effective way to stop a sickness in its tracks. Most of us love garlic because it adds a little kick to our favorite dishes, but in its natural state it has very powerful antiviral and antibacterial properties (it can also help clear out your sinuses if you’re congested). To get the most out of this method, it is recommended that you crush one or two garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and let them sit for about 15 minutes. This allows the enzymes to mix and activate for maximum efficiency. From there you can either eat them straight or chop them up and put them on a cracker or piece of toast (butter is also allowed).
Honey: Not only is honey delicious, it is also packed with important vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B1, B2, C, Zinc and Calcium. No wonder it gives your immune system such a boost. On top of its natural antimicrobial properties, it also contains enzymes that produce hydrogen peroxide, preventing any infections from spreading throughout your body. According to a study from Jahrom University of Medical Science in Iran, taking small doses of honey while sick will shorten the duration of symptoms by two days. Honey is also very helpful if you suffer from allergies. To combat those annoying symptoms, simply find honey made in your area. Not only is this method effective, but you’ll also be supporting local businesses.
Apple Cider Vinegar: If there really is a fountain of youth out there, it probably flows with apple cider vinegar. Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar containing “the Mother” has so many uses, so is it really a surprise that it’s also one of the most effective cold remedies out there? ACV alkalizes the body, making it difficult for damaging microbes to survive. Simply add one or two tablespoons to water and drink the mixture through a straw. This is done to avoid wearing the enamel on your teeth. It is also recommended to gargle with watered down ACV every few hours to alleviate cold symptoms. Note: It is important that you use unfiltered ACV that contains “the Mother,” a strain of beneficial bacteria that gives the drink all of its benefits. This means you want to buy the bottle that looks cloudy when shook, if it’s clear it won’t work. BONUS: Drinking ACV regularly prevents mosquitos and other insects from biting you.
Chicken Noodle Soup: Your mom was right, chicken noodle soup is actually super helpful in tackling colds. The salty broth aids in thinning down mucus, which in turn makes it easier to expel from your system. The chicken contains protein which aids in producing antibodies, and it contains cystine, an amino acid that naturally reduces inflammation. Chicken noodle soup is also a comfort food, and studies show that your mood is directly related to how your body heals. While you may not exactly be the happiest person on the planet stuck in bed with a box of tissues, surrounding yourself with things that make you comfortable and lift your mood will actually have a profound effect on the time it takes you to recover.
Echinacea: Commonly known as purple coneflower, echinacea is an herb that many believe has natural immune-boosting properties. While it is available in supplement form, the added benefit of muscle-relaxing heat from hot water makes it best consumed in tea form. Whilst commonly used to fight the common cold and upper respiratory infections, it is also said to lessen the duration of cold sores, which sometimes arise as a side effect of hight stress levels. It is recommended that those with an autoimmune disease avoid taking echinacea all together.
Chamomile: Chamomile tea is a great remedy for treating symptoms. Having natural anti-inflammatory properties, this concoction is guaranteed to alleviate discomfort and help you relax, allowing your antibodies to do their job. It also makes falling asleep while sick easier, giving your body the rest it needs to recover.
Ginger: Ginger tea is great for combating nausea and sore throats. It is also known for playing a central role in detox beverages. By regulating your gut health and passing toxins through your body this tea is good for cutting the duration of colds and stomach ailments. For a more potent brew cut up some ginger rhizome yourself and add boiling water.
Elderberry: Arguably one of the most useful herbs when it comes to fighting illness, elderberry combats multiple strains of the flu, and is known to cut the duration of annoying symptoms in half. It is also very tasty and can be combined with some of the other remedies listed. For example, if you find ACV gross, the tartness of elderberry tea will mask the vinegar so you don’t taste it while still reaping the benefits.
Slippery Elm Bark: Slippery elm bark is an herbal remedy that was used by the Native Americans. When consumed as a tea it leaves a coating on the throat soothing any discomfort caused by a sore throat.
Zinc: It is widely believed that taking zinc supplements during the first few days of a cold will cut down its duration and give your immune system a boost. It is available in many forms, from syrups to lozenges.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C may be one of the most well known cold-fighting supplements around. Be sure to stock up on orange juice, Emergen-C or any supplement you find at the health center.
Ginseng: Ginseng is an herb with natural immune boosting properties. While very effective, one must always be careful when consuming ginseng as it is toxic in large doses. BONUS: Ginseng is also known to naturally boost the libido if you’re also looking to add a little extra spark to your love life.
Get some rest: This one’s a given. While it’s not easy to catch a break during such a stressful time, you’ll be doing yourself a favor in the long run. Do your best to not overwork yourself and make sure your environment is comfortable. Take naps throughout the day and don’t pull any all-nighters. The faster your body heals itself, the better you’ll be able to tackle anything life throws your way.
Invest in a Himalayan salt lamp: If you’re prone to sinus infections or don’t have a humidifier in your dorm, a Himalayan salt lamp can work wonders for you. Not only is is aesthetically pleasing, but it produces negative ions which are good for your respiratory system, boost your mood and neutralize positive ions produced by computers an electronics, which tend to make you feel tired and sluggish.
Stay hydrated: Hydration is key to staying healthy and happy, especially when you suspect you’re getting sick. Drink plenty of water and herbal tea to flush toxins out of your body. As much as we all love coffee, avoid caffeinated beverages if you’re not feeling well, as they can make symptoms stick around longer and prevent you from getting the rest you need.