Colds are something we all have to deal with, and most people think they are something we have to live with and that there is nothing to do except to wait them out.
However, there ARE things you can do both to prevent a cold in the first place and to get over it quickly if you are unlucky enough to catch one.
These simple things I am going to show you are not old myths -- they actually DO work. Sometimes they can stop the symptoms from developing into a full-fledged cold, and at other times they will at least shorten the duration of the cold.
Are you ready?
Even if you can only do one or a few of these things, it will help you, but the more of them you can do, the greater results you will see!
Note: In some places I talk about cleansing the body from toxins. This is because toxins prevent the body from working properly and thus also from healing itself. So if you can remove the toxins, you will indirectly work on killing the cold.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, but these things work for me and my family. Some of these "treatments" -- for example the one with vitamin C -- exceed the recommendations on the bottle; however, those recommendations include a great safety margin, and I feel safe to exceed them after doing my research. But depending on your lifestyle, your body might not be able to tolerate the same things as my body. So, use your good judgment and listen to YOUR body! I will not be responsible if you try any of the things written in this instructable.
Step 1: Drink LOTS of Water
This is one the most important things you can do if you feel you are getting a cold or already have one.
You body needs water to funktion properly. Drinking lots of water will help flush the virus and bacteria from your body so you can get well sooner. It will also help prevent that irritating mucus in your nose and throat from staying for days after the actual cold is over. It will help restore the liquids you are sweating out and prevent constipation when you are just lying in bed.
Not long ago I had a cold where my nose and head felt completely clogged. I must confess I hadn't been drinking too much -- you don't feel so motivated drinking when you just feel sick and your throat hurts! But the day after I decided to drink 3 L (a good 3 US qt) water, and the mucus just vanished!
I really does make a difference to drink a lot of water. I recommend that if you are not used to drinking water, you try to drink at least the eight glasses a day (about 2 L) recommended by most health authorities. If you are used to drinking the recommended amount, try to drink twice as much when you feel you are getting a cold. A good rule of thumb for how much you should drink is that your urine should be a very light yellow. If it is dark, you need to drink more! But make sure you don't overdo it, as you don't want to flush all the vitamins and minerals away too.
If you find it hard to drink so much, it is okay to use some juice also. Both fruit and vegetable juices are good, and they will nourish you while being palatable. Just make sure to avoid sugary drinks (see the next step). You can also try to add some lemon juice to the water or drink lukewarm water, which will not hurt your throat so much. Herbal tea is another option. All liquids count, as long as they are not full of refined sugars!
If you feel that the water is just running straight through your body and that you have to go to the bathroom all the time, try to gurgle the water before swallowing so it gets mixed with saliva. This might help your body absorb the liquids better. However, you are supposed to go to the bathroom a lot, as that will flush out the virus and toxins!
Also, make sure you get some salt. However, it needs to be sea salt or himalaya salt and not ordinary table salt, as the latter is too refined and stripped of all the minerals. Sea salt and himalaya salt will help replenish the minerals flushed out by the water, and the salt itself will help the body absorb the water. When you sweat, you also lose salt, which you will need to make up for. I know many people want to avoid salt, but that is mainly the refined table salt that is the problem. And I am not talking about eating a lot, just licking up a small dash from your hand. Again, listen to your body, and if you are craving some salt, perhaps you need it!
Step 2: Avoid Sugar
Sugar weakens your white blood cells and makes it harder for your body to get over the cold. It is mainly the refined sugar that is a problem, as the sugar found naturally in fruits and vegetables is in good company with nutrients, fiber, etc., which will help you digest it.
So especially when you are sick, or feel you are getting sick, it is important to avoid the cake and soda, sweet cereals, jam, etc.
If you are craving something sweet, eat some fresh or dried fruit. Raw (unheated) honey will not affect you like refined sugar, and it contains vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that are good for you. It also gives great relief for a sore or itchy throat. Dark chocolate -- the darker the better -- could also be acceptable, as it is high in antioxidants and magnesium. It will also help you be in a good mood (see step 7), and the theobromine helps relieve cough (source).
Step 3: Take Vitamin C
As opposed to sugar, vitamin C strengthens your white blood cells, which in turn fight the bad bacteria and virus.
If you feel that you are getting a cold, you could try taking 2000 mg vitamin C (ascorbic acid) every two hours. Be aware that this is way more than the recommended amount, but studies have shown that high amounts of vitamin C are not harmful but rather beneficial when taken for short periods of time (source). However, if you are not used to eating a lot of fruit (which contains vitamin C), you might get diarrhoea from the sudden large amount of vitamin C. So reduce the amount if you get any bad effects.
You can also try adding some lemon or lime juice to your water. If you live in the Philippines, calamansi is a good alternative.
I also usually eat seaweed pills containing bladder wrack (seaweed fucus vesiculosus), spirulina, and ascophyllum nodosum. These pills contain all the vitamins and minerals our body needs. When I have a cold, I take double the normal amount to strengthen my body. Again, this is exceeding the recommended amount, so do it at your own risk.
Read more about sugar and vitamin C here.
Step 4: Eat Garlic
I know this might not be a popular one, but garlic is definitely effective in killing a cold. Garlic is antibiotic, antibacterial, and antiviral and will therefore help you get well from the cold as well as prevent a cold in the first place. It will also help cleanse the body from toxins.
Fresh garlic is more potent than cooked. I like to take it chopped or crushed on a piece of bread with savory spread like a vegetarian nut pâté. Sometimes I sprinkle with some cayenne, which makes the other herbs (in this case garlic) more effective (Vance Ferrell and Harold M. Cherne, M.D., Natural Remedies Encyclopedia).
Step 5: Get Rest
If you have a cold, it is best to go to bed if at all possible. In this way, your body can rest and concentrate on getting well, and you won't transmit the cold to others. Going to bed when you feel the first symptoms could even prevent the cold from developing.
It is important to keep warm when having a cold, whether you can go to bed or not. Especially the limbs can easily get cold, so put on the extra pair of socks and long sleeves!
Step 6: Sweat and Shower
Sweating will help release toxins from the body and at the same time raise the body temperature slightly. One way to do this is to go to bed and cover up with lots of blankets. Another way is to do a Russian steam bath. Make sure to keep the head cool, perhaps with a cold compress, and to drink water.
It's a good idea to shower regularly when you have a cold -- once a day is good -- to wash away the released toxins from the skin. This is especially important after a sweating treatment.
Also, when you are well again after the cold, remember to change your bedsheets, as they will have absorbed some of your sweat and toxins.
Step 7: Be in a Good Mood
And last but not least, be happy! As the Bible says, "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)
You are sick, and there is nothing you can do about it (well, there is, but you have already done that!), so you can just as well relax and be happy. Enjoy your time and do something you like, like reading a book or surfing the internet. Listen to some uplifting music. Take it as a holiday in bed (unless you have homework to do of course!).
Pull away the curtains and enjoy the sunshine coming in through the window (if applicable). Open the windows and let in some fresh air while you snuggle under the warm blankets. If you are sick in a closed room, the air can easily get stagnant, and fresh air will help you feel rejuvenated.