Disclaimer – This my view on how to get rid of a cold from personal experience. It is not intended as medical advice, it is just what I have found extremely effective personally to kill colds.
Runny noses are just part of having kids, they seem to continually bring colds and flu into the house. Also, having traveled quite extensively, I have noticed that the colds in different countries can be quite bad and it might take up to a year to build up your immune system to cope with all the local varieties.
However, coming down with every cold the kids bring home is not an option and I have had a lot of success with this method to kill colds before they take hold.
Can you feel a cold coming …
The first thing is to develop an awareness of what it feels like just before you get a cold. For me, I get a slight tingle in my throat, usually only on one side, but sometimes on both sides. Notice this, because if feels similar each time. I would describe it as a tingle or tickle around my tonsils on the inside of my throat. It sometimes feels like it is in some way linked to my ear. Swallowing is a way to determine if it feels normal or not.
I usually (70% of the time) get this feeling in the middle of the night. I might have rolled over and swallowed and that has made me aware of it. The next most common time is just before bed.
The Time to Get Rid of Colds is Early
Cold Killer #1 - Vitamin C
A tiny tingle = Take action immediately
Next, I get up out of bed (if needed) and take 2000mg of Vitamin C immediately. There is no point in waiting for morning, it will be too late. The first sign of a tingle is when I want to hit it hard.
Straight back to sleep.
Because it usually starts in the night, after I get up to have my Vitamin C boost, I go straight back to bed and sleep. If I feel the cold in the evening, then I head to bed early. If there are lots of things going through my mind, I focus on relaxing in the knowledge that it is better for me to kill colds first then do other things. Because I work for myself, I regularly get up at 5am, but I get some extra rest if possible on these days.
90% of the time, the cold is gone and I can go on as usual.
Couldn’t quite kill my cold …
A second dose might do the trick in the morning, otherwise, a relaxing hot cold cycle also works for me, but needs a pretty strong mind to see it through.
When to be Especially Prepared for Colds
After Late Nights – A run of late nights can run you down and make you more likely to get a cold
Sickness in the House – This is an obvious one, so look after yourself and be watchful for that tickle!
Stressed – Stress of any kind really does change the vitamin requirements in your body and will run you donw. Chill out, eat well and get some extra rest.
Lack of iron – Not getting enough Iron will run you down. I like seeds, nuts and red meat, but here are some other iron sources
Typically I don’t take a high dose of vitamin C if there is just sickness in the house or I have had some late nights. However I might consciously eat some vitamin C rich foods or possibly take 500mg as a boost. Either way, these are times when I mentally tell myself to be alert for a tickle so I can kill a potential cold immediately if needed.
Best Forms of Vitamin C
Vitamin C (my favorite way to get rid of colds) comes in many forms.
On hand and easy
Tablets – Usually I go for the chewable tablets with natural sweeteners because I don’t like the artificial sweeteners which have been linked to cancer. I only mention this because I had to look hard to find one recently. Stevia is a natural plant based sweetener.
Capsules – If I can’t get the naturally sweetened chewable Vitamin C, then I go for the tablets to swallow because they usually contain no sweeteners.
Natural sources of Vitamin C
There are many sources of natural Vitamin C, these are my favorite. I have to say that usually I only use the natural sources of vitamin C as an additional boost because having vitamins from different sources and in different forms helps with absorption.
Citrus – All citrus has vitamin C, but for me it’s raw, uncooked citrus eaten (as opposed to squeezed) on the top because it is so easy to get hold of and because cooking and exposure to air results in significant vitamin C loss (eg 25% through just blanching).
Dark Leafy Greens – Definitely worth adding to the list because of the trace minerals/elements/vitamins which they contain including Folate which is good. I find salads are always welcome for a light mean to give a boost. I go for the mixed green salad including spinach leaves and parsley (try with parsley, it is great mixed in)
Raw Fruits – Good natural source of vitamin C, include kiwifruit, tomatoes, pineapple, but most fruit has vitamin C.
Red Meat – This may seem a funny one, but red meat often contains Vitamin C. I like my meat rare, so a good cut is unlikely to loose too much through the cooking. Actually though, the reason I might add additional red meat to my diet when fighting a cold is because the iron helps a great deal with energy and tiredness. I like seeds, nuts and red meat, but here are some other iron sources
Cold Killer #2 - The Hot --> Cold Cycle
This may work in the morning if you have a quiet day or if you are able to fend it off with vitamin C but couldn’t get rid of your cold so it is on the verge of breakout in the evening. Note: This is hard on the body, so seek medical advice if at all concerned.
- Draw a bath. On the hot side is best (37 ish deg C / 97 ish deg F) or more. A sauna is also good, if you don’t have either, you’ll have to make do with a hot steamy shower.
- If you like add some eucalyptus oil.
- Ideally let someone know that you are taking a hot bath just so they are aware. Some people don’t handle hot baths well.
- Take a warmish shower just to wash down and begin to relax.
- Go to the toilet so you can fully relax.
- Hop into the bath. Let the heat go into you and warm you up. Add hot water if needed or as you get used to it.
- Soak for 10-15 minutes
- Take a 4-10 second cold shower (12-18) degrees is cold enough. Aim to get your head under too. This takes guts, you only feel the benefits after. Aim to count 1 cat and dog, 2 cat and dog, 3 cat and dog, 4 cat and dog. 1 second won’t do it, you want to cool your skin down. (A plunge pool does the same thing if you happen to have one handy …)
- You should now feel the warm tingling on your skin.
- Into bed, relax and sleep.
Worst case: The worst case hot-cold cycle is a nice hot shower then cold in the morning without being able to rest after. I am still a believer in this, it is just the worst case because it is easy to burn yourself and easy to skimp on the cooling. I rock side to side in the shower so the water goes over each shoulder and put my head and hands in the stream too to get as hot as possible without getting burnt.
If the Cold Took Hold ...
If the cold has taken hold, then rest is best. It is hard to get rid of colds once they take hold, and everyone has their own remedies. I find the best is simply to make yourself as comfortable as possible and get plenty of rest. For me, making myself comfortable includes a modified diet. It varies, but I only eat what I feel like and generally less than usual as well as less milk and less variety. Consider including any of leafy greens, chilies, ginger, garlic, spiked rose-hip or herbal tea, mints, broth (eg chicken soup beef tea) or stout plus eucalyptus to inhale. Occasionally, rest is not an option, then you will have to make up your own mind as the best approach. All have their place, I’m a big believer in if you feel it will help, it probably will.
My Tested Head-Cold Cure
One thing which I have found very effective in getting rid specifically of a head-cold is a particular foot-bath.
- Take a lemon, cut it in half and put the cut side down.
- Make some small cuts around the rim as shown in the top picture.
- Take a bucket of hot water as hot as you can bare. Initially, it should be so hot that you cannot quite keep your hand in it. Don’t over fill it, you are going to put your feet into it. Ideally the bucket will be on the high side to come up to your calves.
- Once the water is just cool enough to put your hand in for a few seconds, take the lemon and squash it flat on the base of the bucket.
- Now put your feet into the footbath. You might need to ease them in.
- Once you can keep them in, relax for 10-15 minutes then head to bed and get a good night’s sleep.
The heat seems to draw the cold out of your head and I have used this personally as well as with family and friends to good effect. I do avoid milk products with head-colds, milk seems to make me more stuffy.
Example How to Fight and Beat a Cold
This example is a little longer than usual, often I get rid of a cold in under 24 hours, but what makes this a good example is I had more or less no symptoms (even though others around me did) for the whole time.
- Day 1: Just this week, I woke with a tickle in my throat (prompting this post). I should have known since my wife had a cold for 3 days, but being on holiday, I hadn’t got around to getting vitamin C. However, I did have a bag of mandarins. I got up and ate 8 mandarins then went back to sleep. Looking at the dosage, it is a lot lower than my 2000mg, (Oranges typically have about 45-100mg of VitaminC each which I looked up later). In the morning, I woke with the same tickle. I had managed to keep the cold at bay, but not get rid of it. Time for a hot-cold cycle to finish it off. That’s what I did, and all made it through the day without any tickle or soreness.
- Day 2: However, it was obviously still lingering because I woke again with a mildly sore throat on the same side as the tickle the previous night. My wife still had her runny nose, and holidays being holidays, I still only had mandarins at hand. More mandarins and another hot-cold cycle kept it at bay another day with no sore throat through the day. My wife was on the mend, so it looks like a 4-5 day cycle, not a killer cold.
- Day 3: Again at night, my throat was sorer now, and on both sides. No more mandarins, but another hot-cold cycle in the morning killed off the cold’s soreness. I finally got hold of vitamin C in the airport just after lunch. 1000mg straight up just in case it is still hanging around.
- Day 4: Yep, sore throat again in the middle if the night 2000mg and back to sleep.
- Day 5: Gone!
This was a little longer then usual, but give me 4 days strategically fighting to kill a cold rather than a runny nose and sore throat any day.
Once again, this is from my experience and does not constitute medical advice. I take on the various touted risks of “high” vitamin C intake. I have never found that taking Vitamin C regularly (beyond a healthy diet) helps much with getting rid of colds and I only take 2-3*2000mg in a row maximum. Otherwise the cold has taken hold, so I don’t need the high dose which I only use to kill colds before it is too late. Apparently gorillas and apes get a lot more vitamin C in their diet than we do, maybe they know how to get rid of a cold naturally so I am not concerned about my process, but you need to make your own decisions.
Love to hear your feedback,