It’s wintertime, and that means cold and flu season is upon us. Ordinarily when I get sick I’ll take a natural cough syrup and drink lots of herbal tea. If it’s a really nasty bug that won’t go away after a few days, I’ll resort to hard stuff like DayQuil, codeine cough syrup, or – in extremely desperate times – antibiotics. However, being pregnant rules out all of the above if you’d like to avoid exposing the fetus to potentially dangerous medicines. Even herbal tea is off limits (read why here)! What’s a sick pregnant gal to do then? I consulted with everyone I could think of: my parents, my doctor, mommy friends, even an aromatherapist, and came up with a game plan. Here are the natural cold remedies for pregnancy I tried with varying degrees of success:
Humidifier: Though they’re a pain to refill and clean regularly, there’s a reason why these are a staple in every naturopath’s arsenal. Verdict: After two nights of constant coughing, I pulled this out of the closet and filled ‘er up. That evening I didn’t cough myself awake once. And if you don’t have a humidifier, my mom says a bowl of water near the heat source works too.
Essential Oils and Diffuser: My teacher friends swear by essential oils for a variety of maladies including disobedient students. An aromatherapist I know recommended Lavender and Tea Tree oil for my cold (a few drops of each mixed with a good carrier oil), applied 2-3 times daily to my sinuses and throat. A diffuser works like a scented humidifier but is less effective than direct application. You can find essential oils at any health food store nowadays, but for high quality oil like Young Living, Earth Angel, or Doterra you may need to order through a rep or online. What matters most, so I’m told, is that the oil is organic and pure. Verdict: I can’t tell if this really did clear my sinuses, or if I just breathed deeper because the aroma was so lovely. In any case, I smelled like a summer garden.
Chicken soup, fresh Cilantro, and lots of Vitamin C: My father insists the chicken soup must be made with bones, not breast meat, and from a Jewish deli is best. Verdict: Tried and true. Also delicious.
Homeopathic Medicine: I was told Aconite would be safe for pregnancy (always read labels and consult your doctor first). Verdict: Unclear though these little sugar pills seemed harmless.
Sinus Nasal Rinse: Years ago I tried a Neti pot and swore never again. Now they make these squeeze bottles that are less awkward to use, so I gave it a go. Verdict: Still a weird feeling to flush warm saline water through your nose, but it definitely cleaned my sinuses out.
Steam Treatment: Another method to clear out your sinuses, with the bonus effect of also opening up your pores. Verdict: Worked, but didn’t have as long-lasting an effect as the nasal rinse.
Nasal Strips: An easy means of decongestion and may also reduce snoring. Verdict: You look like a dork going to bed, but I didn’t blow my nose once all night.
Sleeping With Head Elevated: This helps reduce nighttime coughing due to post-nasal drip. Verdict: Cheap, easy, effective.
These natural cold remedies may not work as quickly as pharmaceutical products, but should bring you some relief during your pregnancy. Feel free to pick just a few from the list above or rotate them as you recover. And don’t forget the best medicine of them all (but the hardest to find while pregnant): R-E-S-T!