Although there is no quick fix remedy for this ailment, homemade remedies have been handed down from generation to generation to curb the gloom that accompanies a cold. Certain foods help your system fight colds better. There are foods that help thin out the mucous and aid lung secretions. Such foods are called mucokinetic (mucous-moving) agents and are a part of the formulae of decongestants and expectorants.
Spice spice baby: Down the ages flus and colds have been done away with spices. According to Hippocrates, chilli, peppers and various other spicy foods like horseradish, hot curry spices (garam masalas) and vinegar work wonders at relieving respiratory tract infections. According to Dr. Ziment, MD a professor of medicine, some foods work just like medicines. The spicy agent in red hot peppers is capsaicin, which according to him bears a resemblance to the drug guaifenesin, which is found in most over the counter tablets and cough syrups. Mustard as in mustard sauce or mustard oil causes tears and salivation and acts as an effective mucokinetic. When you eat hot and spicy food, its pungent flavour activates the vagus nerve, which controls the secretion-producing glands that line the airways. These glands then release waves of fluids that make your eyes water and your nose run. This breaks up congestion and washes away the irritants. People suffering from chronic bronchitis should eat hot and spicy food at least thrice a week. By doing so, you might require less treatment and be able to breathe more easily.
Chicken soup for a cold!In fact, this is a 12th century remedy, which came down from eminent physicians. Chicken contains a natural amino acid called ‘cysteine,’ which is released in the stock when the soup is prepared. This amino acid acts like any other mucokinetic drug. Clear chicken soup with lots of black pepper, ginger, garlic and onions keeps the sinuses opens and reduces cold symptoms.
Know your onions and garlic too!Onions and garlic also fall in to the mucokinetic category of foods. At the very onset of a cold, the best home remedy would be to eat one or two cloves of raw chopped garlic. People suffering from chronic cold infections should have it regularly. ‘Allicin,’ a chemical found in garlic is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which helps regulate the mucous flow.
Onion on the other hand is well known for its expectorant properties. It thins phlegm and inhibits further formation. A tablespoon of onion juice and honey, around three to four times a day, could bring a lot of relief during an attack of cold, cough or bronchitis. You could also use a lot of garlic and onions in your regular recipes like soups and main dishes.
Your very own Cough syrupChop 4-5 onions, 2-3 cloves of garlic and boil them in 2 glasses of water for an hour on a slow flame. Blend, strain and add half a cup of honey and some more water to bring it to a drinkable consistency. Sip this syrup at regular intervals through the day, preferably warm. It acts as a fabulous decongestant.
Hot for a coldGuzzle plenty of fluids, especially hot, when a cold knocks you out. Hot fluids are better than cold ones because the vapours from hot fluids can fight congestion better during an attack of cold or flu. Sip hot water with a dash of ginger through the day, it will help loosen up the mucous. Indulge in a steaming hot and spicy fish curry with rice when the cold blues set in.
Milk? Keep it away.Avoid milk. Milk is supposed to be mucous forming and it helps worsen the symptoms of congestion. It has the opposite effect of hot spicy food. Dr. Andrew Weil, Professor at the University of Arizona college of Medicine, observed that sinus problems improved dramatically after about 2-3 months of avoiding milk and milk products.