When you have a cold or flu you often feel pretty helpless, as it’s just a matter of waiting for the virus to run it’s course. Even more so when you’re pregnant, you feel like there’s nothing you can do to ease the cold and flu symptoms. There’s no need to splash out on expensive pills and potions when there are so many proven home remedies out there. I’ve done some research and here are (at least)13 home remedies for colds and flu that are also safe in pregnancy. If you’re breastfeeding, use mint with caution, as it can have an effect on milk production. You can also use a lot of the over the counter treatments, just check with the pharmacist. Anything with Guaifenisin (often found in cough medicine) thins mucous, but it also thins cervical mucous, so can be dangerous in pregnancy.
1 Saline Nasal Rinse
If you’re feeling really congested, try a saline wash out. Ever seen those saline drops for babies? It’s the same principal. You can make your own solution really easily at home with table salt. Find a suitable instrument to get it up the nose, one of those syringes for administering Calpol is perfect! A whole new mom has a great post on the whys and wherefores of a saline nasal rinse.
2 Honey and Lemon
Don’t knock the old remedies, there’s a reason they’ve been going so long. They actually have some benefit. Honey has long been used for it’s antimicrobial properties, plus it will soothe your throat and suppress that cough reflex. Why not add some fresh Thyme in, which is a natural antiseptic, antibacterial and expectorant. To make your own natural cough and cold drink that is better than any cough medicine you can buy for a fraction of the cost, just boil some water, add lemon and honey to taste. Add ginger if you like it.
3 Salt water gargling
This is particularly good for a sore throat and one I used when I suffered from Tonsillitis as a young adult. Use a pint of cooled boiled or purified water with a teaspoon of salt dissolved into it and gargle as often as necessary. You can also gargle with Aspirin, which acts as a local anaesthetic, but you should ask your health care provider before doing this if you’re pregnant, due to the mild blood thinning properties.
4 Eucalyptus essential oil
Eucalyptus oil has long been used as a home remedy for colds and flu. If you’re pregnant, use it sparingly. You can use it in a variety of ways, so it’s really useful to have a bottle of Eucalyptus oil in your medicine cabinet. It acts as an expectorant (helps move mucous), it’s anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-septic, astringent, antispasmodic, plus it has analgesic (pain killing) properties according to The Health Site. Use it straight onto a handkerchief (not a tissue) and keep it on hand to inhale throughout the day, although don’t use that hankie to blow your nose as it might irritate it. You can also use it in steam inhalation:
5 Steam inhalation
Boil some water and put it in a bowl, add a drop or two of eucalyptus oil (optional). For adults, leave it close to you so you can inhale the steam. For children, leave the bowl out of reach and just let the steam and eucalyptus permeate the air. The steam loosens the mucous in your nose and lungs ready to be expelled. You could just add a couple of lemon wedges and let the steam do its job.
6 Paracetamol and Caffeine
A lot of those Paracetamol plus and cold and flu tablets that you pay a premium for are just paracetamol with added caffeine and sometimes a decongestant. You don’t really need the decongestant if you use the natural remedies above, so just take some non branded paracetamol as pain relief for your sore throat and aches and pains, with a cup of tea or coffee or perhaps an energy drink if that’s your preferred option. The caffeine helps with the absorption of the paracetamol and will perk you up.
Ginger is a natural antiviral which helps to fight against illness and bacteria that causes cold. It helps to stimulate perspiration that cleanses the system and brings down body temperature, plus it contains antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which help to boost your immune system. Ginger acts as an antihistamine and decongestant that helps to ease colds symptoms and contains chemicals called sesquiterpenes which are specifically used to target viruses that are responsible for the common cold. Did you know ginger is also a natural pain and fever reducer and also a mild sedative? Try ginger tea and using ginger in cooking, if you don’t like the taste there are ginger supplements, or rub some on your feet!
Apparently, eating raw garlic will help reduce the time you have a cold and flu and can stop you getting one. Studies show that people who took garlic supplements regularly had less episodes of cold and flu and on average suffered the symptoms for 1 day less. Cooking with garlic will still have some benefits if you can’t stomach it raw. You’ll be staying away from people anyway so who cares if you smell?
9 Mint and menthol
A lot of over the counter remedies contain mint, especially peppermint. A mint tea will help – the warmth of the drink will make you feel better and the peppermint is antimicrobial, antiviral and contains antioxidants. Mix 2 tablespoons of Vaseline with a drop of peppermint essential oil and use it as a rub or to soothe your sore nose and it’ll work wonders.
Echinacea is said to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. It’s also proven to reduce cold and flu symptoms and even lower your risk of developing a cold by more than 50%. Click here for more information, plus more natural cold and flu home remedies and a recipe using Echinacea with Elderberry and Goldenseal.
According to a study in 2014 written about in The Telegraph, drinking Honeysuckle tea can suppress flu symptoms by producing a molecule which attacks the flu virus’ way of replicating. You can get them at health food shops or online.
It’s hard, especially if you’ve got work deadlines, family commitments and children to look after, but try calling in favours from friends and family to help you get the rest you need to recover fully. They say it takes a village to raise a child, find your ‘village,’ and life will be much easier.
Keep hydrated, drink plenty as you will be losing fluid. This will also help combat headaches and make you feel better. Being well hydrated will ease congestion too, and warm liquids will speed up the movement of mucous through the nose, according to The Mayo Clinic. A hot water and lemon (with honey) is perfect.
13 Good Nutrition
Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants such as tomatoes, spinach, kale, peppers, and good old fashioned chicken soup will help either stave off a cold or shorten it. There’s a reason chicken soup is known as Jewish Penicillin – there has been a study done by the american college of chest physicians, which shows a mild effect on the inflammation in upper respiratory tract infections. For some yummy chicken soup recipes, get some inspiration here.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with Bathing Solutions. All opinions are my own. Not intended as a replacement for medical advice. If you’re pregnant, consult you healthcare provider before taking any medicines.