A-Z Index

Immune Support

Home remedies to palliate symptoms

*Reminder, as per instruction by University Leadership & stated by Dr. Tyler Tapps of Northwest Wellness Services, “It is best to get plenty of rest while avoiding others when you are running a fever or feeling ill.”

Warming Sock Treatment... to decrease nighttime congestion

Warming socks may be helpful in such conditions as the common cold, the “flu” (not the “stomach flu”), earaches, sore throats, and sinus infections. It is useful with people of any age, from infants to the elderly.

MOA (Mechanism of Action):

By increasing blood flow or circulation, an increase in lymphatic drainage and white blood cells occurs, which is necessary for fighting infection and recovering from symptoms. 

What you need:

  • 1 pair of thin cotton socks
  • 1 pair of thick wool socks
  • 1 basin, bathtub, or large bowl filled with warm water

How to:

  1. Begin the treatment with warm feet. (This is important). If your feet are already warm (e.g., you have already been in bed, or you are doing this on a small baby, move on to step 2.) If you have cold feet, soak them in a basin or your bathtub of warm water for a few minutes, until they are warm.
  2. Soak the cotton socks in cold tap water, or ice water and wring them out thoroughly. Place the socks close to the basin or bathtub used in the next step.
  3. Remove your feet from the warm water and quickly dry them off. Immediately put on the cold wet cotton socks. Put the dry wool socks on over the wet cotton socks.
  4. Go directly to bed and keep the feet covered in your blankets throughout the night.

When the Warming Sock Treatment is followed correctly, the feet will start warming up within a few minutes of getting covered in bed. The congestion will usually start to be relieved within 30 minutes. After approximately four hours the cotton socks should be totally dry, the feet warm, and the symptoms will be much improved (if not gone). The Warming Sock Treatment can be repeated through the night or used on consecutive nights.


Steam Inhalation… to decrease congestion

Steam inhalation is a popular treatment for symptoms of colds, sinus infections, and other respiratory issues. While steam inhalation can be used as a source of palliative care for symptom management, remember that therapy for these conditions centers on resting and drinking fluids while managing symptoms.

Key benefits:

Sleep aid; treating voice hoarseness; easing sore throat; management of congestion; rehydration of nasal passages.

How to:

  1. Find a vessel, such as a large bowl.
  2. Boil water with a kettle.
  3. Fill the bowl with boiling water; place a towel on your head to create an enclosed space.
  4. Position your head 8–12 inches above the water. Keep your eyes closed.
  5. Inhale the steam with slow, deep breaths for at least two to five minutes.
  6. Limit the duration of the individual session to 10–15 minutes. Reheat the water every five minutes for longer inhalation sessions.
  7. Repeat sessions two to three times a day, as needed to reduce symptoms of congestion.

Optional: adding essential oils, such as eucalyptus, tea tree oil, and lavender, to the boiling water may help with symptoms. Research has shown these to ease inflammation and have an antibacterial effect on bacterial sinus infections.

*Note: Use caution when using this home therapy, as there is a risk of burns. Additionally, steam inhalation is not recommended for young children or babies.


Teas: herbal medicine options to support your body through cold and flu season… prevention and palliative care of symptoms

While there is a plethora of tea choices on the shelf at any given store, which one(s) should you choose when it comes to supporting your immune system and relieving symptoms if you have a cold? Here are some of the most commonly used herbal medicines and their mechanism of action:

  • Echinacea. (Echinacea angustifolia): is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and an immunomodulator, (meaning it is capable of increasing the number and activity of white blood cells). Echinacea enhances the resistance of the immune system to infections and stimulates wound healing. It is used for colds, influenza, wounds, infections, allergies, bacterial and viral disease, swollen glands, and gum disease. It is specific for infectious conditions.
  • Goldenseal. (Hydrastis Canadensis): is astringent, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial. It has immune stimulating qualities and increases the blood supply to the spleen. Goldenseal is used for colds, flu, sore throats, acute and chronic middle ear infections, conjunctivitis, and a variety of other mucous membrane problems.
  • Osha. (Ligusticum porter): is antiviral, carminative and diaphoretic (meaning it stimulates sweating/detoxification). It has immunomodulating properties and is commonly used to support viral upper respiratory infections (URIs).
  • Lavender Bergamot. (Monarda fistulosa): is immunomodulating, antiviral, astringent, expectorant and diaphoretic. It is used for influenza, cold, indigestion and as a numbing gargle for sore throats.
  • Ginger. (Zingiber officinalis): is antimicrobial, diaphoretic, antipyretic (meaning it assists in reducing fevers, antitussive (meaning it helps to decrease coughing), expectorant (meaning it supports a productive cough), anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, analgesic, antioxidant and an immunomodulator. It has been shown to increase phagocytic (meaning it increases white blood cell scavenging) activity.

Carrot Poultice… to stimulate the movement of lymph from swollen lymph nodes

A carrot poultice is a great way to soothe a sore throat and is easily prepared in your own kitchen. Poultices are medicinal ingredients spread onto a cloth and applied to the body to help draw out toxins, soothe inflammation and fight infections. Carrot poultices are particularly good for the throat and neck area to support colds, throat infections and swollen lymph nodes.

MOA (Mechanism of Action): Carrot poultices stimulate lymphatic movement and increase blood flow. Stimulating the lymphatic system filters the blood and more importantly, transports large numbers of immune cells to the area of application. Blood flow is increased as the body works to warm the poultice, bringing in more immune cells and removing cellular waste material that may be generated.”

How to:

  • 1-2 grated carrots (you may use a hand grater or a food processor).
  • Place the grated carrots on a thin cloth, shear stocking, or durable paper towel that is wet with cool water.
  • Fold or roll the cloth, tucking in edges and/or tying off the end of the stocking.
  • Place the compress over/around your neck. Consider wrapping a scarf around the carrot poultice to warm the area and assist in keeping the poultice in place while you rest.

The carrot poultice should be left on the neck until it has been warmed or for as long as it feels good. There is no limit to how often the poultices can be used, however frequent and prolonged use could result in a slight orange coloration to the skin where it is applied. This treatment is safe and effective for both adults and children.


Cold & Flu Prevention

Flu shots & COVID-19 Booster Information from Northwest

Northwest Missouri State University is reminding students and employees that fall is the time of year when viral infections are present, and Wellness Services offers ways to help prevent illness.

While the Northwest community may be experiencing symptoms of the common cold, influenza, COVID-19 or another viral infection, Wellness Services notes that viral infections can impact individuals with a variety of symptoms. Common symptoms include fatigue, a sore throat, headaches, nausea and diarrhea.

Anyone presenting a positive COVID-19 test or symptoms should follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations and the instructions of a healthcare provider.

Ways to help prevent illness include washing your hands frequently, boosting your immune system by eating healthy foods, getting seven to nine hours of sleep nightly and exercising daily for 30 minutes.

“Antibiotics are not effective against a viral infection,” Dr. Tyler Tapps, Northwest’s assistant vice president of student affairs for health and well-being, said. “Treating symptoms with over-the-counter medication is the best course of action. It is best to get plenty of rest while avoiding others when you are running a fever or feeling ill.”

The CDC also recommends getting a flu shot.

Wellness Services offers free flu shots to Northwest students and employees at the Wellness Center.

Northwest Wellness Services does not offer COVID-19 vaccinations at this time and encourages students and employees to seek the vaccine through their local health care provider. Click here for updated CDC recommendations regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for a flu vaccination, contact Wellness Services at 660.562.1348 or visit