Winter Germs: Easy ways to make yourself better.

11 November 2019  |  Editor

Easy ways to make yourself better.

Some people cling fervently to favourite remedies whilst conservative practitioners often dismiss anything but flu shots and decongestants as a waste of time and money.

As might be expected, fthe answer lies somewhere in between: There is simply too much research to completely dismiss some traditional remedies but not enough to call any one treatment an actual “cure.” so what is all the research to really telling us?

Sometimes a treatment may not have been studied, but traditional use may in some cases suggest benefit.

1. Boost immunity with supportive supplements

Immune-boosting supplements may help strengthen your body’s defence system. A short list includes:

Vitamin C

Studies have shown a higher-than-normal dose of 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day may make your cold shorter and milder. (These amounts are tolerated by most people but may cause diarrhea in others, so pay attention to how your body reacts.) See vitamin C products.


At the onset of a cold or flu, 3 to 4 ml of echinacea in a liquid preparation or 300 mg of a powdered form in capsule or tablet can be taken every two hours for the first day of illness, then three times per day for a total of seven to ten days. Some studies have shown it may shorten the duration of a cold in adults. See Echinacea products.

Zinc lozenges

Lozenges containing zinc gluconate, zinc gluconate-glycine, or zinc acetate may help slow the cold virus and shorten the illness. (Avoid zinc sprays, however, as recent reports confirm that they may sometimes seriously damage sense of smell.) See Zinc Lozenges.

2. Get your Zs and your fluids

In addition to the common courtesy of keeping your germs to yourself and thereby not infecting coworkers and schoolmates, Dr. Woodson Merrell of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City advises staying home if you are ill. “You are more likely to rest and drink more fluids in an unstructured home environment,” she says.

Stay hydrated

Non-caffeinated, nonalcoholic drinks, including water and low-sugar juices, may help loosen and clear out mucus, soothe a sore throat, and replace fluid loss due to a fever or runny nose. Warm liquids, like herbal teas or soups, not only hydrate but their heat may also help fight off the infection and relieve congestion.

Hot ginger tea with lemon and honey may help decongest and just generally make you feel better.

Take it easy

Lie down, stay warm, and sleep if you feel tired. This keeps all the body’s energy available for combating the virus. If you have trouble relaxing, dim the lights, watch your favourite movie, or take a bath.

3. Don’t dry out—humidity helps

Because the cold and flu thrive in cold, dry environments, you can help get rid the virus infection by staying warm and raising humidity levels. Also, at very low levels of humidity, the nose mucus dries up and isn’t able to defend as well against harmful viruses and bacteria. Some people simply put a damp towel over the radiator.

  • Use a nasal mist to keep your nose mucus moist. A saline rinse with a “neti pot” has been shown in some studies to decrease sick time. There are even a number of saline products available that are simply salt water solutions. They can be sniffed up the nostrils (don't swallow, it's a bit salty), then blow both nostrils. Salt water is one of the best natural remedies for many things. Stay away from many of the nasal spray decongestants that purport of clear your nose for many hours. These can have a "rebound" effect `and end up actually blocking your nose if used over an extended period. You will then find you have several unpleasant days of a horribly blocked nose while you get rid of these nasty symptoms.
  • Use a humidifier at work and home. Don't forget the damp towel over radiator option!
  • Warm your hands and face over the rising steam as you sip your herbal tea.

4. Some natural products that might help