When living in such tight quarters, being away at college and getting sick is a common yet often difficult combination. But sometimes, you don’t want the medicine bottle or that multi-vitamin to be your go-to remedy. Luckily, though, there are a few simple natural remedies that can help you feel better in no time.
As most of us have probably heard time and again, sleep is a natural healer. Feeling better and getting healthy always comes back to sleep patterns.
Professor Gary Truce of Binghamton University’s health and wellness department said finding a consistent bedtime is the best way to cure difficulties in falling asleep. If a person varies the time they go to sleep every night, it will only make falling asleep more difficult. Your body goes in cycles and rhythms of being tired and awake.
Melatonin is the hormone created by your body to regulate sleep patterns and it just so happens that cherries are stock full of this hormone. Having a handful of cherries before bedtime can promote sleep and help you relax, especially when you’re not feeling well.
Cherries are also chock-full of vitamin C, and taking vitamin C before you go to bed is an efficient way to get this important vitamin into your body, Truce explained. If cherries are out of season, try the dried fruit section of your local supermarket.
Problem: puffy, tired eyes
Solution: tea bags
There’s nothing worse than tired puffy eyes after a late night on State Street.
Dr. Ronald Hoffman gave Prevention Magazine this great tip: tea. Let the teabags seep in hot water for several minutes to activate the tannins. Let the tea bags cool in the fridge and then place them on your closed eyes for 10 minutes to lessen the swelling.
“Black tea is chock-full of astringent compounds called tannins that can help deflate and tighten the bags under your eyes,” Hoffman said.
Problem: an oncoming cold
Solution: a virgin hot toddy, lemons and hot showers
A traditional hot toddy would include a half shot of brandy; however researchers have found that alcohol lowers one’s immunity. So skip the brandy until you’re feeling better.
To prepare, cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice of half the lemon in a cup and then drop the squeezed piece in with the juice. Add boiling water and half a teaspoon of honey to the cup. Breathe in the vapor and drink one to three cups a day of this hot toddy to help fight a cold.
Lemons are rich with vitamin C and studies show that taking vitamin C before the onset of a cold can shorten the duration and severity of it, Dr. Ellen Kamhi told Prevention Magazine. Lemon breaks down bacteria in the mouth and down through the throat area while honey has a neutralizing, positive effect against harmful bacteria.
The length of your cold may be shortened and even prevented if you catch it at the right time, Truce said. Having a natural source of vitamins (lemons or oranges) is better than taking tablets. He also says that supplements have actually been found to be less effective than natural vitamins.
Using a steamer or taking a steamy shower can help moisturize the nasal passageway. It helps break up any congestion that is starting to form in the sinuses. Keeping warm and steaming twice a day in addition to those hot toddies will have you back to being healthy in no time, Professor Truce advised.
Problem: a cough
Solution: chocolate and honey
Chocolate contains a theobromine compound that is more effective than codeine at suppressing a persistent cough, researchers have found. But be conscious of how much chocolate you eat. A small square or two are helpful, but too much can actually have the opposite effect, Truce said.
Too much sugar can prevent your body from healing quickly. One to two teaspoons of honey before bed can also help soothe and relieve a persistent night cough.
Solution: a spoonful of sugar
This is the one time it’s totally OK to have a spoonful of sugar. Swallowing one to two teaspoons of sugar will stop your hiccups.
“The dry granules stimulate and reset the irritated nerve that is causing the spasms of the diaphragm,” according to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum and Dr. Mark Moyad of Prevention Magazine.
Problem: cuts and burns
Solution: petroleum jelly
How many times have you burned yourself ironing your hair? Or on the frying pan while making eggs for breakfast? When you burn yourself, your skin becomes completely dried out so give your skin a little extra moisture with petroleum jelly. It will be soothing and bring extra moisture to the burned area. Aloe is soothing to the skin as well.
Small cuts and scratches on the other hand are a different story. The best thing to do is wash the cut off with cold water and wrap it in a Band-Aid while putting pressure on it.
Your body will naturally bind and heal the wound on its own. If the wound is really irritated petroleum jelly might help subside the irritation. However, putting petroleum jelly or bacitracin on a small paper cut might not always be the best thing. According to Truce, it could actually slow the process.