Winter has arrived and with it comes the official season of the common cold. Since there is no cure for it, our only option is to treat the symptoms for the 5-7 days a cold usually lasts. There are plenty of over-the-counter drugs to help with the hallmark nasal congestion, scratchy throat and coughing that accompany a cold, but they are not your only source of relief.
Home remedies can do the trick.
Non-drug remedies include foods, teas and herbs. Many things have been relied upon and passed on from one generation to the next, but there is scant evidence that the most common remedies for the common cold actually work. The best thing about many home remedies is that they are served with a strong dose of TLC.
The natural remedies that do work have been found to provide measureable relief from some of the symptoms or to shorten the duration of your cold. That's reason enough to stock your pantry with one or more of these products so you are prepared at the first sign of sniffles, sneezing or a runny nose.
It is also important to remember that some people may be allergic to herbs and supplements and they may change the way other medicines work, so talk to your doctor or pharmacist before trying an alternative treatment.
Home Remedies for the Common Cold That What Work and Why
- Soup – Not just chicken soup, but any steaming bowl of soup can help loosen congested nasal passages and provide needed fluids and salt to fight the infection brewing within.
- Fluids – Juice, tea, soda and water, whether sipped hot or cold, provide replacement fluids to keep the immune system strong. Fluid losses increase during a cold if the body temperature is elevated by a fever or mucous losses are greater due to sneezing, coughing or a runny nose.
- Zinc – If taken within the first 24 hours of feeling sick, supplemental zinc can make your cold symptoms less severe and go away faster. Zinc may prevent the rhinovirus that causes many colds from multiplying in the nasal passages and throat. The best dose and whether the zinc should be taken as a lozenge or syrup are unresolved.
- Saltwater – Gargling with a mixture of ¼- ½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 pounces of water can temporarily relieve a sore and scratchy throat. The same mixture added to a neti pot can be effective in rinsing clogged nasal passages.
- Honey – When added to hot tea or lemon water, honey can soothe a sore throat and suppress a cough long enough to help you fall asleep. Gargling with a cooled honey tea can also help coat and relax throat membranes.
Maintaining a strong immune system is the best defense against catching a common cold or being down with it for long if you do catch one. But that is a year round job that involves eating a nutritionally balanced diet, getting regular exercise and sleeping 7-8 hours a night.
The good news is if you can get that right you can avoid a lot more than the common cold!