The cold and flu season is officially upon us. However, you can be fully prepared to fight off an attack of the sniffles naturally by using some (or all) of the methods described below.

Nasal/ Chest Congestion:
One of the most effective ways to clear nasal congestion is by using a neti pot. A neti pot is a small, teapot like container that is made of either ceramic, pyrex or plastic. It is designed to be filled with warm water and fine, iodized salt. A neti pot can be purchased at most drug stores such as Walgreens and CVS or at any Wal-Mart. Tilting your head sideways, you simply flush your nasal passages by inserting the spout of the neti pot into one nostril, and letting the water flow through and out the other side of your nose. The salt water carries out excess mucus and flushes the nasal passages of allergens. It also works wonders to reduce inflammation. Neti pots have been proven to provide substantial relief for cold and allergy sufferers.

Never underestimate the power of steam to help clear sinuses. Steam not only helps to soothe dry nasal passages, but it also helps to soften and loosen mucus so it can be more easily expelled when coughing or blowing your nose. To benefit from steam, simply boil a pot of water and place it on a folded towel on a table or counter top. Lean over the pot, and drape a towel over your head to create a sort of 'tent'. Breathe normally. Do this for as long as you are comfortable. If you aren't comfortable using a pot of boiling water, you may also turn your shower on using only hot water. Shut the bathroom door and sit
in the room, allowing it to fill with steam. This is just as effective as using the pot of water. Remember, if you are going the steam filled room route, leave the room if you become over heated or feel light headed or dizzy.

Sore Throat:
A warm concoction of raw honey and lemon works quickly to soothe a sore throat. Raw honey can be purchased from heath food stores and finer grocers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Raw honey hasn't been pasteurized and still contains all of its active enzymes and nutrients. It is a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Not only does it soothe your throat, it also works to combat the actual illness. Fresh lemons contain antioxidants and vitamin c, both of which work to combat the illness and raise your immune system at the same time. To make this healing powerhouse beverage, combine the juice of 1/2 a lemon and 3 tablespoons of raw honey in a coffee mug. Add enough warm or hot water to fill the mug and sip. You may drink as much as you like throughout the day.

Mullein tea is a wonderful beverage to help soothe an itchy throat. It is an astringent, antibacterial and antiseptic, making it a powerful ally in combating a sore throat. Mullein also has been proven to have a positive influence on the respiratory system which makes it a great cough remedy. To brew mullein tea, purchase loose, dried mullein from your local herbal supply store (Whole Foods
carries bulk herbs). To make the tea, fill a tea ball or strainer with the herb and steep in a mug of boiling water for around 10 minutes. Add raw honey if you like to provide a little sweetness and drink as often as needed to relieve the throat soreness.

A wonderful recipe for a home made cough syrup involves the use of a potent anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal,
antiseptic and expectorant- red onion. This recipe is especially useful for children who may not want to drink a whole mug of herbal tea. Don't worry. There is no onion taste. To make this highly effective syrup, simply wash, peel and slice (horizontally) a red onion. Place the base of the onion in a bowl. Pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of raw honey over the slice of onion. Continue layering the onion slices and raw honey in the bowl until the onion has been reconstructed. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours. After the 12 hours, remove the onion, slice by slice. Using a spoon, scrape off any honey/liquid from the slice of onion. After all of the onion has been removed, there should be a bowl of syrup left. Administer a teaspoon of this syrup throughout the day as needed to soothe the cough.

Overall Immune Booster/ Decongestant/ Sore Throat Soother:
This is a VERY effective cold and flu remedy that has been proven time and time again to clear sinuses, ease sore throats and speed the recovery process. If there was one thing that I would suggest as THE cold and flu remedy, this would be it. Some find the taste so pleasant, they drink it on a daily basis. This helps to ward off a cold. Many people refer to it as Tomato Tea. I have seen many
variations of the recipe and many claim that there are substitutes that can be made for many of the ingredients. But, the following recipe is the one that has been tried and proven. All ingredients should be as freshly made as possible. The only exception is the tomato juice. V8 juice may be used instead. This drink tastes wonderful on its own, but you may add a dash or two of celery powder and worcestershire sauce to make it taste more like a Bloody Mary. The recipe is as follows:

2 cups of tomato juice
3 cloves of peeled, crushed garlic
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
As much hot sauce as you can tolerate

Mix all of the ingredients and slowly bring to a simmer in a sauce pan. You may drink as much of this 'tea' as you like throughout your illness. After all symptoms of illness are gone, continue to drink the tea for a day or two.

Along with the above mentioned treatments, always remember: plenty of rest and fluids are pertinent to recovery. Combine that with a few or all of the treatments mentioned and you'll feel better in no time!

Author's Bio: 

Reiki Master/ Teacher trained in the traditional Usui Shiki Ryoho style- Obtained April, 2004

Certified Holistic Stress Management Specialist- Obtained July, 2007

Diploma in Fitness and Nutrition- Obtained January, 2008

Certified Personal Trainer- Obtained April, 2009

Certified Sports Nutritionist- Obtained April 2009

Currently studying to obtain a Holistic Practitioner degree

Fields of study: herbal medicine, aromatherapy, reiki, stress management, holistic health, fitness and nutrition