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"28/365 - Sick day" by Becky Worthington, used with permission under CC BY 2.0. Source.

Tools For Overcoming the Common Cold

If you’re anywhere in the New York City area, you’ve probably been noticing that many folks have succumbed to the most recent wave of the common cold.  And as much as the hardened New Yorker mystique may intrigue, we are actually a very sociable and friendly people (wink)!   Hence, how quickly colds spread.

I, myself, have just spent the last couple of days in bed enjoying my own version.  Since colds tend to linger with me, I had to take out my arsenal, which includes, but is not limited to:

The regular means:

  • Sleep, sleep, and more sleep
  • Lots of water and fluids
  • Extra Vitamin C

And, the not as widely known means:

  1. Acupuncture – Some people may be familiar with how acupuncture increases endorphins, which is one result it creates.  However, acupuncture effectively deals with:  pain management (chronic and acute), stress management, side effects of chemotherapy, reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and regulates blood sugar levels, among a long list of benefits (check out my website to actually see the entire list, it’s impressive!)

    An old Chinese acupuncture chart

    For the topic of this blog, though, I have used acupuncture as a tool towards combating my cold.  Did you know that acupuncture boosts the immune system? It actually increases T cell count.Every other day, I was needling whatever points I could get to, to release what we Chinese Medicine practitioners call “Wind/Heat Invasion” (even the diagnoses can sound somewhat poetic in Chinese Medicine.)  My sinuses were quite clogged as well, and there were some excellent points that helped clear that up quickly (when it comes to the sinuses, they respond well to needles.)  While I was at it, I put in a point to help my TMJ (temporomandibular joint), which has been acting up recently.

  2. Herbs – I also took some Chinese herbs, in granular form, that I had been given by my acupuncturist a while ago, for similar symptoms (my colds are pretty predictable.)
  3. Neti Pot – The Neti Pot is a treatment you to can use to safely irrigate the nasal passages with a saline solution, and is extremely effective for removing excess mucous, wash away dust, pollen, and irritants, or simply soothe dry nasal passages (especially during the dry, winter months.)  Nasal irrigation helps with sinus problems, colds, allergies, chronic post-nasal drip, and counteracts effects of environmental pollution.  This is an Ayurvedic technique that has been steadily gaining popularity in the United States, and can be easily found in health food stores or Whole Foods.

    This is the same Neti Pot model I use at home. Just a little salt will do the trick.

    All you need it the little neti pot and pure, non-iodized salt, such as Neti Pot Salt or kosher salt.  The actual method of irrigating the nasal passages may take some getting used to at first; but, believe me, the relief you get afterwards of breathing freely, and knowing you’ve just flushed out impurities, makes up for any initial awkwardness.

  4. Vinegar & Salt Gargle –  It is definitely as unpleasant as it sounds.  But it kills sore throats almost instantaneously.  I was unable to sleep for 2 days due to my sore throat, but once I gargled a cup of vinegar and salt, it was done.  The vinegar has antiseptic and germ killing properties.  Salt also kills bacteria.  You could probably use Apple Cider Vinegar as a replacement, but at the time, I only had White Vinegar on hand.  You can probably dilute it with a bit of water to make it less severe.
  5. Apple Cider Vinegar – When getting Apple Cider Vinegar (popularly known as “ACV”), it is best to get the organic kind, with what’s called “The Mother”.  “The Mother” is the sediment, which sometimes looks silky or web-like, and gives cider vinegar it’s dark earthy tone.  It tells you that the cider hasn’t been pasteurized, filtered, or robbed of its beneficial properties.  As I’ve heard it described, “Generally, look for the ugliest cider vinegar on the shelf.”  ACV has various benefits.  Many people tout that it helps them lose weight, control diabetes, gout, warts, dandruff, provide relief from sunburn and insect bites, as well as treat acne.  As an interesting aside, it’s also said to get rid of cat and dog urine odor.

    From My Kitchen: Unfiltered Honey, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Ginger (Gan Jiang)

    For my purposes of using it to alleviate my cough, I took 1 TBS of ACV + 1 TBS unfiltered honey in an 8 oz. glass of warm water in the morning.  At night, I took 2 TBS of ACV + 2 TBS unfiltered honey in an 8 oz. glass of warm water.  You should see a noticeable difference in your cough soonafter.

  6. Unfiltered/Unprocessed/Raw Honey – The key here is “unfiltered/unprocessed/raw”.  Honey in general is good because it has antiseptic and antibacterial qualities, but unfiltered honey is best to get the most out of the real benefits of honey, thereby boosting the immune system.  Unfiltered honey has not been processed above 95 degrees, a temperature that kills any yeast or other microorganisms present.  So, all beneficial pollen, propolis, live enzymes, probiotics, and phytochemicals remain intact.  It’s much tastier, too, in my opinion!  You can put it in some hot tea, or in your mix with Apple Cider Vinegar.
  7. Ginger – Filipinos make a ginger tea called, “Salabat“, sometimes daily, and usually drink it during the mornings (although any time is prime.)  It is usually considered a soothing drink, in general, that keeps digestion smooth.  But many people in the United States make tea out of ginger when coming down with a bug.  Ginger is actually a Chinese herb (Sheng Jiang) that benefits digestion, neutralizes poisons in food, ventilates the lungs, and warms the circulation to the limbs.  It is also commonly used as an expectorant for coughing.  To make Salabat/Sheng Jiang tea, you basically bring water in a medium saucepan to a boil with about 7-9 slices of ginger (I like a strong ginger taste), for about 15-20 minutes.  It makes 1-2 mugfuls of ginger tea.  Make sure to put in a big dollop of unfiltered honey and mix well.  It’s very throat soothing!

The above are a few things you can do to for yourself when you’re under the weather.  Some of them may work for you, some of them may not.  But, I know they were instrumental to me these past couple of days!  Hopefully you won’t find yourself in common quarters with this bug this season; but if you do, you have some tools in your shed.

Let me know if you’ve found any of them helpful!  Stay warm.


Copyright © 2011 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.

All information on this website is my own opinion, and not to be taken as medical advice. Reliance on any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk. Please refer to your medical practitioner before making any medical decisions.


  1. Norm
    February 7, 2011

    Nice interesting blog, although yours is only the 2nd I’ve ever read. Good advice on colds, always felt Dr could cure in seven days,but home remidies take a week.. Penn State says Buckwheat honey best for childrens coughs.

    • Alcantara Acupuncture
      February 10, 2011

      Yes, buckwheat honey is an interesting honey, and more malty and dark than other ones. Thanks for visiting, Norm!

    February 8, 2011

    Ginger is my absolute most favorite remedy! I use it whenever I’m congested. Actually, I cook with it all the time, but especially when I’m ill. I like to dice up the root, and boil the pieces as a way to disinfect the air at home if I’m sick, or to make it smell good even if I’m not! It’s a much nicer alternative to air freshners. Chemicals- yuck!

    Favorite ginger tip: instead of slicing the skin off with a knife (which wastes a lot of the root), ‘peel’ it with a spoon- the skin comes right off!

    • Alcantara Acupuncture
      February 10, 2011

      Yes, I love ginger, too! It certainly is aromatic. I never thought about it as an air freshener alternative, but that makes total sense. During these cold winter months, I love to have cinnamon on the stove, just to waft it into my living area and make me feel toasty, especially with all of this cold snowy/slushy/rainy weather we’re having! Great tip on the ginger, by the way. I may have glanced upon that in some forum a couple years ago. Thanks for reminding me!

  3. Techniques To Digesting Food, And Life, More Fully | Alcantara Acupuncture
    November 5, 2011

    […] is awesome when combined with apple cider vinegar for oncoming colds (I talked about it a little in “Tools For Overcoming the Common Cold”.)  I use it almost everything that needs sweetening.  The pollen and propolis is still in there, […]

  4. Losing Weight And Gaining Spirit With Acupuncture | Alcantara Acupuncture
    January 6, 2012

    […] that ginger tea/gan jiang/salabat look familiar to you?  It should, I talked about ginger tea in this previous post and this […]

  5. 7 Things You Can Do To Combat Seasonal Allergies Holistically | Alcantara Acupuncture Blog
    May 27, 2013

    […] be amazed what’s going on up there and needs to be flushed out!  I mentioned it in this post.  You can get it, as well as the Neti Pot salt, at your local health food […]

  6. Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts Common Cold Revisited and Fallacy Found in "1,000 Ways to Die" » Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts
    April 23, 2014

    […] round never fully shook off, and here many of us are again!  Remember that previous post I made, “Tools for Overcoming the Common Cold”?  I’m taking some of those tools back out of the box […]


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