Feel A Cold Coming On? 8 Traditional Medicine Tricks To Fight The Sniffles

5 Mins Read

It’s January in Asia, which means we’re now entering peak winter flu season, so if you’re feeling a little under the weather lately, you’re probably not alone. Luckily, there are a few things that all of us can do to nourish our bodies and rev up our immune systems to ward off sicknesses before turning to doctors or pharmaceuticals. Whether you’ve caught a bit of a sniffle or you’re taking extra self-care precautions, these 8 tips are bound to lend a helping hand. 

1. Go LONG on Vitamin C

Source: iStock Photo

Vitamin C contributes to strengthening your defence against illnesses by supporting your immune system’s cellular functions, so it’s definitely the time to yourself with vitamin C-rich foods! Luckily, many delicious fruit and vegetables contain this potent antioxidant, such as citrus fruits, guava, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli and choi sum. Stuff yourself with these.

2. Enjoy a turmeric boost before bed

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Before settling for a long night of slumber, kick your wind down routine off with a warm mug of turmeric milk AKA “golden milk,” Any Indian worth his (Himalayan salt) will know about ‘haldi dood’ or turmeric milk, the go-to tool in the Ayurvedic arsenal for loving moms to help boost their loved ones’ immune system. Just a couple of glugs a day helps to increase the immunomodulating capacity of your body. It’s super easy to whip up – just boil some slices of (peeled) fresh turmeric root with any plant-based milk of your choice and stir for a few minutes. You can use ground turmeric powder if you’re in a pinch but here in Asia’ there’s fresh turmeric root at every wet market so why compromise. 

3. Sip on lemon & ginger tea all day

Source: Dr Kara Fitzgerald

It’s super important to stay hydrated, and a great way to add an immune-boosting kick is to sip on homemade lemon (slices or juice) & fresh ginger root (peeled and then grated or cubed) infusion throughout the entire day. Ginger is known for its antibacterial qualities, and lemons are a great source of vitamin C. Not only does it taste great, it’ll leave you feeling warm and relaxed as well.

4. Double down on fluids 

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Speaking of staying hydrated, try to double down on your fluid intake to flush out the toxins from your body- forget two litres a day, try for four (not all in one go, sip throughout the day). Drinking loads of filtered (mineral) water (don’t forget to bring your refillable water bottle wherever you go) is absolutely key to any kind of body mending, especially when you are fighting an infection or a virus like with colds and the flu, and like all good TCM followers know: make sure you are drinking it warm or at least at room temperature. Stay away from cold/icy water, which creates “dampness” in your body and upsets your spleen.

5. Get friendly with lemon essential oil

Source: Darsh Naturals

Rub a few drops of lemon essential oil on your chest and behind your ears throughout the day. Lemon essential oil is typically used to ease stress and fight fatigue, but it can additionally stimulate your immune system, and help to alleviate any pain associated with your cold or flu symptoms! Massaging it on your chest will help ease the congestion behind coughs, sore throats and runny noses. 

6. Do a steam with a natural chest rub

Source: FGB Natural Products

Steam inhalation is another effective way to clear up any nasal and respiratory passage blockages that you might be experiencing with a cold or flu. While visiting a steam room would be ideal when you are well, it’s not hte best if you are contagious and/or feeling exhausted so we recommend doing some steam inhalation at home. Fill a large pot (Dutch oven for example) with very hot water (not boiling) and a little natural chest rub, put your head over the pot and cover yourself with a large towel and and cover your head with a towel while you inhale, which will help ease some of the congestion you’re feeling. We love Badger Balm’s Aromatic Chest Rub made with soothing herbal ingredients and an anti-inflammatory essential oil blend of Eucalyptus, Rosemary and Tea Tree but a couple drops of eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil would do the trick too if you’ve got any handy!

7. Embrace the Neti pot

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Although there are a couple methods of nasal irrigation out there, one of the most popular is the Neti pot, from the Ayurvedic tradition. They can be used with sterile mineral water or even better, saline/saltwater solution to treat and flush out congested sinuses, colds and allergies. While it might take a little practice and time to get right, using a Neti pot works wonders to ease your sinus troubles. Ideally you want to use your Neti pot daily, but when you have a cold, up to three times a day helps clear out your system.

8. Sleep it off, and then sleep it off some more

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Finally, the ultimate cure of: sleep! Sleep is essential for your body to rest, heal and allow your immune system to fight off infections. So if you’re unwell, it’s really time to set aside time for extra rest and to catch up on your Zzzs! Nap during the day and increase your night time sleep to at least 10 consecutive hours- you will be amazed at what a few nights of quality sleep can do for you.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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