How to Get Rid of a Cold Quickly
- From soothing detox teas, to targeted supplements, to cleaning your nasal passages with salt water, these natural cold remedies will help you kick a cold before it starts — or limit the days it has you down.
- Your grandma was right. Learn how garlic, ginger, lavender and a hot bath can soothe your symptoms, and how vitamins help boost your body’s immune resistance.
- Plus, get Bulletproof recommendations for supplements designed to help you feel your best all season long.
Whether it’s the weather change, traveling by plane or visiting someone in the hospital, something or someone exposes you to whatever bug is going around. Next, you feel that tickle in your throat, the slight burning in your sinuses and that first chill — uh oh. Your body is giving you clear signs that you’re getting sick.
Once you feel a cold coming on, you might think you’re past the point of no return. Instead of just letting it run its course, there are things you can do to make yourself stronger, have fewer sick days or kick your cold altogether.
Below, get the best tips for how to beat a cold. Further down, learn the science behind why these cold remedies work.
Your feel-better-fast checklist
You feel like crap and just want some relief. Here is your quick-and-dirty guide to natural cold remedies that actually work.
See the Checklist
- Eat garlic: To get the benefit of garlic’s strong antibacterial properties, mince two cloves and let them sit for 15 minutes for the active compounds to develop. Combine with olive oil and salt, then spread on your tasty snack of choice.
- Drink ginger tea: Ginger’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties help ward off the cold virus and soothe headaches or sore throats.
- Supplement with curcumin: Turmeric’s active compound reduces inflammation to relieve congestion. Don’t love the taste of turmeric, or find it hard to fit regularly into your diet? Try Bulletproof Curcumin Max — it absorbs 10 times better than standard 95% curcumin powders.
- Pop vitamin C: The jury’s out on whether or not vitamin C will help prevent a cold, but studies show it can reduce the number of days you’re sick.
- Add glutathione: Master antioxidant glutathione strengthens the immune system and works with vitamin C to blast your cold. Take a glutathione supplement or get it from a high-quality whey protein.
- Don’t forget vitamin D: Vitamin D keeps your immune system in fighting shape, and it works even better when it’s paired with vitamin K.
- Take zinc: Studies have shown zinc can shorten your cold by as many as three days. When loading up on zinc, make sure it’s paired with copper so you don’t deplete your stores.
- Use a nasal rinse: Sounds weird, but rinsing your sinuses helps clear out germs and relieve cold symptoms.
- Take a bath: Add epsom salts, essential oils or bentonite clay to your tub to soothe symptoms and ease inflammation. Don’t have time for a soak? Try taking a magnesium supplement.
Get what you need to tackle your cold with Bulletproof Immune and Detox Supplements
Eat garlic for added immunity
The scientific community needs more data on garlic’s ability to keep vampires away, but research and centuries of traditional use have solidified garlic’s abilities as a natural cold remedy. Raw garlic has strong antibiotic and antifungal properties that give your immune system a boost, so you can get rid of your cold, stat.
Garlic is in the caution zone on the Bulletproof Diet roadmap because it can inhibit alpha brainwaves and may affect your mood. So while it might not be best to eat garlic every day, eat it immediately when you feel the first sign of a cold.
Avoid elephant garlic because it doesn’t have the same antimicrobial oomph that other varieties have. Also, get your garlic from a grocer you can trust, and check the bulbs for mold.
Here’s our recommended preparation: Smash two garlic cloves in a bowl and let them sit for a couple of minutes. This allows the active compounds to develop so you get the full cold-busting benefit. Mix this with olive oil and spread on something fresh and tasty — or if you can handle it, pop a smashed clove in your mouth and eat it raw (as the tears stream down your face).
Sip ginger tea to kill the cold virus
When you feel a cold in your sinuses, most of the time you’re dealing with the germ rhinovirus. Ginger contains sesquiterpenes — antiseptic and anti-inflammatory chemicals that can target rhinovirus, making it an ideal cold remedy. Ginger’s energizing aroma and warming effects can help ease headaches and sore throats, too.
Ginger is easy to add to your cold-busting regimen. If you’re hardcore, peel the root, slice it thin, and eat it raw (again, queue the tears). If you want a more soothing experience, make ginger tea or peel and grate a knob of the root and add it to bone broth, another cold-soothing elixir.
Take turmeric to feel better
When you see a bright golden curry or sauce, you can guess that turmeric is a star ingredient. Historically used to treat a variety of diseases (and for its flavor), turmeric has been a staple in Eastern medicine and cuisine for thousands of years. It’s likely you’ve seen it popping up in capsules and extracts for its inflammation-reducing properties and antioxidant and antiviral activity.
Reaching for turmeric when you have a cold makes perfect sense because the active compound, curcumin, can help keep your inflammation in check and regulate your immune system.[http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17211725″] Translation: It has potential to take the edge off of your symptoms, and depending on what you have, it might shorten the duration of your cold.
Your body doesn’t readily absorb curcumin without some help. That’s why Bulletproof Curcumin Max is designed to absorb 10 times better than standard curcumin 95% powders, and it’s made with Brain Octane oil to boost the absorption of complementary ingredients like boswellia and ginger.
Pop vitamin C to shorten your cold
The jury’s out as to whether vitamin C can help you prevent a cold, but studies show that vitamin C can help you get over a cold more quickly.
How much vitamin C should you take? According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended daily amount for adults is 65-90mg a day, and the upper limit is 2,000mg a day. When you have a cold, your body will burn through much more vitamin C than it usually uses, so experiment with the dosage throughout the day and see how you feel. You’ll know when you’ve had too much — you’ll feel digestive discomfort when it’s time to scale back.
Heads up: If you have a stomach issue like acid reflux or GERD, high-dose ascorbic acid (vitamin C) might exacerbate symptoms. Ask your doctor about other forms of vitamin C, like a whole-food version or ascorbate. Some people swear by intravenous (IV) vitamin C — talk to your doctor before you try it.
Help your body make more glutathione
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals — compounds that can damage your cells. Your body makes some of its own antioxidants, including a powerful one called glutathione. It detoxifies your body, helping it fight off infections like the common cold.
Glutathione is busy when you’re under the weather, acting on inflammation, toxins, free radicals and pathogens. However, your supply can deplete quickly when your body is stressed — like when your immune system is battling a cold.
Glutathione has a hand in antioxidant defenses, too, so get a little extra juju out of your vitamin C when you take it with glutathione. Try it as a supplement, like Bulletproof Glutathione Force, or load up on foods that help your body make more glutathione, like whey protein.
Supplement with vitamin D for killer defense
Vitamin D is arguably the most important nutrient for almost everyone to supplement. Well, everyone who wears clothes and doesn’t live in the tropics. Of the bajillion benefits of vitamin D, one of them is its role in the immune system.
Vitamin D supports your cytotoxic T-cells, otherwise known as the “killer cells.” These cells hang around the body, waiting for the immune system to signal them into action. Once the immune response is underway, these T-cells search for and destroy invaders like the cold virus. Vitamin D has a key role in the signaling mechanism. Just as importantly, vitamin D plays a role in the “at ease, soldiers” signal to the killer T-cells when the attack is over.
Vitamin D supplements are easy to find. Take it with vitamin K to support its effects, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A to combat inflammation by giving those T-cells an even bigger boost. Bulletproof Vitamins A-D-K gives you science-backed doses of all three vitamins in one pill. Easy.
Take zinc (with copper) to attack germs
The typical American diet doesn’t include a whole lot of zinc-rich foods. Even if you get adequate amounts, fighting a cold really plows through your supply, and your body cannot store it. Zinc is one of those nutrients you have to keep up on.
Your immune function and energy production (which your cells need when you’re fighting a cold) depends on an adequate supply of zinc. Of course, you can find zinc supplements everywhere, and it’s a start. But zinc and copper together (like what you’ll find in Bulletproof Zinc with Copper) form an antioxidant powerhouse called copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD). It’s one of your body’s most effective defenses, so consider it a must-have in your arsenal of cold remedies.
Another reason zinc and copper play better together: If you’re supplementing zinc, your body will find copper wherever it can to make CuZnSOD, which can deplete your supply if you’re low. The problem is that a zinc-to-copper imbalance may increase your risk of heart attack. If your zinc supplement doesn’t have any copper, up your intake of foods like dark leafy greens, cacao and organ meats.
Detox with lemon honey lavender tea
When you’re under the weather, combine lemon juice, lavender tea, coconut charcoal and raw honey to taste. The ingredients of this calming tea have amazing properties, like:
- Lavender: Soothing, relaxing and anti-microbial
- Lemon: Vitamin C powerhouse
- Coconut charcoal: Binds to toxins and helps get them out of your system
- Raw honey: Anti-microbial and helps soothe sore throats
Oh, and it tastes amazing. Don’t let the black charcoal throw you — it doesn’t taste like much. The lavender and lemon steal the show here.
Use a sinus rinse to wipe out sniffles
Irrigating your nasal passages sounds like a really unpleasant experience, but people who do it swear by it as a head-clearing cold-remedy. The basic premise is that rinsing your sinuses will clear out the snot, relieve your congestion and prevent your cold from spreading throughout your sinuses.
Nasal irrigation comes in many forms — saline spray, neti pot and yogic basin rinses. Saline (saltwater solution) keeps the sinuses moist, making your nose feel more comfortable. You can buy saline solution for an at-home nasal rinse, or make your own.
Take a detox bath to soothe cold symptoms
When you have a cold, soaking your cares away in the tub makes you feel better almost instantly. While not a remedy, per se, the warm water can relax stiff muscles and joints, while the moist air opens up congested sinuses and calms coughing. Adding things like essential oils, epsom salts and bentonite clay can turn your plain old soak into a detox bath.
Bentonite clay is an adsorbent. That’s not a typo — adsorbents attract molecules with a positive charge. A lot of impurities have a positive charge, so bentonite clay draws the yuck to the surface of your skin, shortening the path to your pores where it can be eliminated.
Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate crystals found at pretty much any pharmacy or supermarket. They are super easy to use — simply add some to your bath as the water fills the tub.
When the hot water opens your pores, your skin absorbs magnesium from the epsom salts. Magnesium has calming effects, and coupled with the relaxing warmth, you’ll be ready for a good night’s sleep when you get out of the tub. Your immune system fights hard while you’re sleeping, so anything you can do to get a restful night’s sleep will help your body recover from a cold more quickly.
Since you absorb electrolytes in an epsom salt bath, you’ll probably need to drink a little extra water after your soak. Water is essential for flushing your system, so keep your fluids up whether you tub it or not.
Essential oils are another fantastic addition to your bath when you’re working on getting rid of a cold. The steam from your tub diffuses the oils so you can breathe them in, and the oil moisturizes your skin. You cannot dilute essential oils in water — they will form full-strength drops at the surface. Instead, dilute a few drops in a teaspoon or so of carrier oil before adding them to the water. Of course, be careful exiting the tub so you don’t slip.
Each essential oil offers unique benefits. Eucalyptus can soothe stuffed sinuses and open up a stuffy nose, lemon boosts the immune system and lavender has a calming effect that goes great with a warm soak.
How quickly you get rid of your cold depends on what bug you have and how strong your immune system is when it hits. Be sure to consult your doctor if you get hit with a superbug that takes you down quickly. Some illnesses are no match for any of these remedies, and others will respond to something as simple as a little extra vitamin C — you’ll learn more as you experiment with different remedies.
Now you have a variety of tools to throw at your next cold, so you can get back in the game pronto. Want more tips to boost your immune system? Discover ashwagandha’s benefits for stress, anxiety and immunity. Or learn why CLA, a quality fat in grass-fed butter, can help you support your immune system and fight inflammation.
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