3 Effective Things I Did to Get Rid of a Terrible, Awful, No-Good Cold
The common cold is just that—common. But it's also debilitating, painful, annoying, and pretty much life-ruining for the entire duration of its hold on your body. For me, it usually springs up around a season change (now) or when I've been traveling a lot (also now). It always starts with a small tickle in the back of my throat, like a little reminder that hell is about to rain down on me, and I should cancel my plans.
This particular cold began the second I landed back in New York after a quick trip to Paris. Because of the length of my visit, inevitable jet lag, and my penchant for late nights and dirty martinis, I wasn't surprised. After two days of lying horizontal on my couch, motionless, with tissues scattered across my living room, I decided to do some research. I checked in with my fellow Byrdie editors, searched the internet, and read some interesting articles about the best cold remedies. I tried about a million remedies—all-natural and otherwise. Below, find the three that actually worked. And yes, my cold is gone, and I've returned to my normal vertical life.
1. Took Berocca Tablets
A friend of mine picked these up while she was in Paris and swore to me of their cold-canceling abilities. Described as "a Parisian Airborn," each tablet is packed with vitamins and minerals to help support your energy levels and increase mental performance. It's free from caffeine, sugar, and artificial stimulants, and, instead, pumps your body with necessary immunity-boosting vitamins including B1, B2, niacin, B6, B12,bBiotin, and pantothenic acid. The only hitch? They're only available in Europe. You can, however, get the Effervescent Tablets ($8) right here in the U.S.
I'm willing to try anything, I thought, as I gulped down the first pill with a glass of water. It didn't work to quiet any of my symptoms (I had DayQuil for that), but I did notice an uptick in my energy and ability to stay productive at work in the midst of such a mild-altering cold. I think, in retrospect, this is a great option if you feel yourself coming down with something, rather than a quick-fix once you're already in the thick of things.
FYI: The fizzy version of Berocca's supplement is touted as "the best damn hangover cure in the universe."
2. Went to Infrared Sauna Session
Infrared therapy is meant to "assist with detoxification, relaxation, burning calories, pain relief, anti-aging, skin purification, cell health, and improved circulation," it says on the HigherDose website. But could it help with my cold? I took a look at the list and read up on each option. Detoxification and improved circulation seemed to be the best bet, where the infrared sauna releases heavy metals, radiation, and environmental toxins from your body as well as stimulates the circulatory system and oxygenates your body’s cells.
"Infrared is actually light that turns into heat when it hits your body," says Richelle Oslinker of HigherDose. "Therefore, infrared penetrates internally offering an intense detox. When you have a cold, you really want to kick whatever is making you feel congested, sore, stuffy, and overall crappy. Sitting in 150 degrees allows your body to transfer more oxygen to your blood, providing improved circulation which is an immune system boost. Further, allowing yourself 40 minutes in an infrared saunas allows your body to hit a state of relaxation. The achy feeling you might have is alleviated because infrared also penetrates into the muscles, resulting in lactic acid breakdown."
She was right: I certainly felt better when I finished my 60-minute session ($65)—refreshed, perhaps more so than with any of the other remedies. All I had to do was sit (to be honest, I almost fell asleep). The most palpable effect, though, since the heat penetrates your tissues, joints, and muscles, was pain relief. I had been so achy throughout the entire duration of this cold that the release was really necessary. My muscles felt loosened, more flexible, and far less strained than they had when I stepped into the sauna. Plus, the de-stressing made a tangible difference as well. Since infrared saunas decrease cortisol and increase serotonin, I felt more relaxed and chilled out almost immediately.
3. Got a Massage
"Generally, it's contraindicated to get massage when you are sick," Wil Lewis, the massage program director for Chillhouse in NY told me in an email. "Massage is very cleansing for the body—as you flush out all of the toxins from your tissues, your immune system has work to then process that stuff and get rid of it. If you have are at the beginning or middle of a cold, massage can exacerbate the symptoms."
"However," he adds, "if you are on the tail end, massage can help flush out the last little bit of pesky symptoms. Extra attention to your sinus points can really help clean out the congestion and treat the sniffles. A little extra lymphatic drainage around the throat and the chest can clean up that lingering scratchy-ness. And energy work, like Reiki, can really clarify and charge the system."
I took Lewis's advice and used massage as a last-ditch effort to rid myself of this terrible, awful cold. After a week of suffering, I booked myself a massage at Chillhouse, a local café-spa hybrid owned by Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, founder of Taste the Style, meant to allow for self-care at an affordable price point. After an hour and change, I felt relaxed, renewed, and drained of the congestion I had been suffering through for what seemed like forever.
Next up: Here are 10 anxiety remedies that actually work, according to real women.