13 Home Remedies For The Symptoms You Might Be Experiencing Right Now
During less wild times, as soon as you felt a sickness coming you'd probably head to your local 24/7 emergi-center, pharmacy, or your grocery store to get relief pronto. But with quarantine, lockdown, and self-isolation in full effect all over the world, leaving your home for medicine is more precarious. Wouldn't it be nice to just use home remedies from your kitchen?
Luckily, for some minor health problems and symptoms, there are a few healing foods you can try straight from your kitchen. As functional medicine guru Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, founder of Ancient Nutrition and author of the best-selling books Keto Diet and Collagen Diet says, "Not only can certain foods boost immune health to ward off illness and infection, but some ingredients contain nutrients and compounds that can enhance your mood, support healing and help you get back to feeling your best."
With that in mind, we asked nutritionists and functional medicine experts to share the foods, herbs, and teas they recommend for 13 of the symptoms you might be experiencing right now.
A note of caution: If symptoms persist, visit a medical doctor, and if you are concerned about a home remedy's potential reaction to a prescription medication, check with a pharmacist. Use common sense and always err on the side of caution.
Home remedy: Tomato soup
"Tomato soup is an excellent food to help reduce a cough," says Lisa Richards CNC, nutritionist and founder of The Candida Diet. It is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants which will assist the body in speeding up recovery and simultaneously treat congestion.
If you're lactose-tolerant and find cooking soothing, go ahead and give this classic grilled cheese and tomato soup recipe a whirl. Otherwise, the canned stuff will do just fine!
Home remedy: Onion
"Onions have antimicrobial properties that can be useful in fighting off the flu and its symptoms, including runny nose," says Richardst. This is due to their high content of a compound called quercetin. "Quercetin acts as natural antihistamine to treat allergies and ease symptoms like sneezing, congestion and runny nose," says Dr. Axe.
Throw on some goggles, chop up some onions, and toss 'em into whatever you're cooking! If you're looking for recipe inspo try this chili-mango onion chicken stir fry or this caramelized onion recipe for an aromatic side dish.
Home Remedy: Strawberries
"Fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C are great for fevers and sore throats because vitamin C is an important nutrient that plays a key role in immune function," says Dr. Axe. While oranges and orange juice may be the go-to high vitamin C food, with 90mg of vitamin C per cup, strawberries have nearly double the amount of vitamin C than what's in a medium navel orange (which typically has around 50mg).
His recommendation? Pair the strawberries with nuts or nut butter, which he says, "are high in heart-healthy fats and protein, which can also support healing."
Home Remedy: Tea
Let's face it: who isn't a little (or a lot) more stressed and anxious than they were pre-pandemic? The next time you're feeling anxious, have some tea! There are a few different teas that might help.
While Richards says peppermint or chamomile tea are best, functional nutrition counselor and chef Amy Spindel MSSW, founder of Food with Thought recommends green tea. "Green tea contains L-theanine, a calming amino acid that supports GABA (a neurotransmitter that has calming effects) production," she says.
You might also try a blend. "Try a blend of lavender, kava, valerian, passionflower, and holy basil," says doctor of naturopathic medicine Dr. Lilia R. Feria, ND with Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine (SCNM) Roosevelt Community Health Clinic. "Depending on the severity of symptoms, 1 to 3 cups a day may be beneficial."
Oh, and make sure you find out other good and bad foods to nosh on with our list of 22 Best and Worst Foods for Anxiety!
Home remedy: Salmon
Between social distancing and all the unknowns, no doubt many of us are feeling down in the dumps. That's why in addition to moving your body when you can and limiting intake of news and social media, Dr. Axe recommends implementing more foods like salmon, sardines, mackerel, and cod into your diet. Why? Because they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which he says, "may be beneficial for overall mental health and wellbeing."
Not a cook? No worries. The canned versions of these fishy eats are just as rich in omega-3's. You can also have chia or flax seeds instead, both of which contain high amounts of the nutrient as well.
Home Remedy: Dark chocolate
That's right, your favorite late-night snack has healing powers. "Dark chocolate also contains a high amount of tryptophan, which can increase levels of serotonin to improve your mood," says Dr. Axe.
A few lil squares will do, he says. But these are trying times, so if chocolate is one of your comfort foods, go ahead and chow down the whole bar. As for the chocolate, find out which one to buy by consulting our guide to the 17 Best and Worst Dark Chocolate Bars.
Home remedy: Water
Clogged up? If the change to your schedule has resulted in your moving less throughout the day, blame the quarantine. According to Dr. Axe, reduced physical activity can slow down your metabolism and lead to constipation. He recommends drinking more water throughout the day to get things flowing.
"Enjoy a balanced diet rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and try fitting some regular exercise into your routine, such as walking or trying some home workouts," he says.
Home remedy: Eat more slowly
If you're a ball of stress, you probably have the opposite problem: Diarrhea. "Our bodies can't differentiate between stress caused by a tight work deadline or fleeing a hungry tiger," says Spindel. "In times of stress, our bodies prioritize the fight-or-flight response over digestion, which can cause food to move through the gut too quickly, causing loose stools."
In addition to incorporating stress-reducing practices like yoga or meditation throughout the day, her advice it to slow down. "Take the time to sit down for a meal. Eat slowly. Allow yourself to taste each bite and chew it until it's liquid." Think of it as doing some of the work for your digestive tract.
If you've had diarrhea for more than a day or so, go ahead and stick to the BRAT diet—which includes four low-fiber foods: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast for a few days, which will help firm up your doos.
Home remedy: Fennel seeds
"Right now many people are consuming more processed foods that are low in fiber," says Richards. This can lead to all sorts of digestive distress, including constipation and gas. Generally speaking, she recommends eating more high fiber foods like chia and flax seeds, berries, legumes, leafy greens, fruits, whole grains and oat bran.
And for more immediate relief (hey, we've all been there), try noshing on fennel seeds. They contain phytonutrients that are thought to reduce spasms in the intestines, helping to reduce gassiness. Fennel also freshens breath. Also, check out our list of 23 Foods That Make You Poop.
Home remedy: Honey and garlic juice
"When you have a sore throat, there are two primary goals: to soothe your throat and to cure the ailment," says Richards. Well, a honey and garlic juice might be able to do both, according to Spindel. I know, I know, it sounds nasty. But raw honey is soothing and garlic has antimicrobial properties that destroy the pain-causing bacteria, she says.
Here's how to make it: Crush six garlic cloves into a glass of warm (not hot!) water. Add in some honey and let the mixture sit for ten minutes. Mix and gargle with the solution twice a day. Within three days, your sore throat should be gone.
Home remedy: Cherries
According to Dr. Carrie Lam, MD, FAAMFM, ABAARM, getting adequate sleep is essential for the resilience of your immune system. So in the middle of a pandemic it can be especially frustrating to be chasing zzzs to no avail.
Before bed, try noshing on some cherries (fresh or dried). Mark Moyad, MD, an alternative medicine expert at the university of Michigan Medical Center and author of The Supplement Handbook explains: Cherries are one of the few natural food sources of melatonin, the hormone that affects the body's internal clock to regulate sleep patterns, he says. Discover the 30 Best and Worst Foods to Eat for Sleep for help getting some high-quality R&R.
Home remedies: Ginger
There's a reason ginger ale is well-known as a remedy for queasy stomach and nausea: research has found the pungent root is effective at soothing both those ailments. "Ginger is a healing root with powerful anti-inflammatory properties," says Dr. Axe.
Go ahead and brew up some ginger tea! Or, if you're feeling fancy shmancy, make a tea of freshly shaved ginger. Then, when the tea cools, strain the liquid into ice cube trays and freeze. Smash the frozen cubes and suck on the ginger chips to soothe an upset stomach.
Home remedy: Lavender
Whether you're WFH or chilling out and playing X-box, chances are you're staring at a screen more than usual. All that screen time can cause eye strain, and even something called a "screen headache". The next time tension strikes, pull out some lavender and call on your sniffer.
According to one 2020 study published in the journal of European Neurology taking a few long whiffs of lavender essential oil may be a safe and effective cure for migraines.