7 Surprising Tips for Short-Circuiting a Cold

Use these all-natural remedies to stop a bug from taking hold. 

woman making soup

Your colleagues are coughing, your spouse is sniffling and you’re silently hoping the tickle in your throat isn’t a sign that a cold virus is invading. Luckily, there are more proactive steps you can take than just crossing your fingers and waiting to be taken down. 

We asked three of THE WELL practitioners — the Chief Medical Officer, the Director of Ayurveda, and the Head of Chinese Medicine — to share their best tips to stave off a cold and feel better fast. Here's what they had to say.

1

Eat warm foods

Think bone broth, soups, stews and roasted veggies, suggests Ananta Ripa Ajmera, Director of Ayurveda at THE WELL. In Ayurveda, warm foods are thought to be the most nourishing — they keep the "fires" of the digestive and immune system burning. Try to avoid cold foods and drinks completely when you're feeling under the weather, as they "extinguish" that healthy fire. 

2

Sip some garlic tea

It may not make your breath smell awesome, but garlic helps thwart a cold thanks to its anti-viral, antibiotic and anti-fungal properties. Try this  garlic “tea" recipe from Aimee Raupp, Head of Chinese Medicine at THE WELL: Slice three garlic cloves, add them to a mug of hot water and throw in some fresh lemon juice and fresh ginger. Sip the tea, and then eat the garlic slices. Down three to four cups a day until the cold subsides.

3

Sweat it out

Dress in layers and curl up under your covers to induce sweating, Raupp suggests. “In Chinese Medicine, we say that breaking a sweat will help your body release the pathogen." You can also create a mini-steam room right in your bathroom: Run a hot bath, adding a few drops of eucalyptus and rosemary essential oil to the water. These lung-supportive oils may help your body release the virus and make you feel less congested, says Raupp. 

4

Sleep it off

At the first sign of a cold, don’t push yourself. Try and get at least eight to nine hours of sleep per night, recommends Frank Lipman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at THE WELL. Ajmera suggests going to bed by 10pm at the latest. If possible, take naps when you're unwell — your body does its best repair work while you're sleeping. 

5

Visit an acupuncturist

Acupuncture — a Traditional Chinese Medicine practice of inserting thin needles along certain meridians of the body — can provide immediate relief from many cold symptoms while boosting your immune system. 

6

Take some Chinese herbs

Chinese herbal formulas, such as Gan Mao Ling and Yin Chao, can help treat your cold, Lipman says. You can find them at most health food stores and at THE WELL’s retail shop in New York City. 

7

Use a Neti pot

If your sinuses are super blocked, try a a nasal irrigation system called a Neti pot. Yes, it can be uncomfortable (and super awkward at first), but it's been around for ages and works like a charm, attests Raupp, who suggests using one at the very first sign of a cold. (This video demonstrates how.)

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