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Have a Cold? 8 Home Remedies that Really Work

December 9, 2013

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Can you singlehandedly use up a whole box of tissues? Your upper respiratory tract is one impressive yet sensitive system in your body. So when it’s attacked by a cold virus, it lets your nose, throat, and chest know it. The common cold has an entourage of symptoms, ranging from nasal congestion and watery eyes to a cough and sore throat that may linger on for up to one week or more. But before you grab a pain reliever or OTC decongestant, consider taking a more natural route to cold relief and prevention with these tips.     

For relief:

Cook to heal with anti-viral foods such as fresh garlic, ginger, green onion, cinnamon, and basil so your body’s better able to fight infection. Look for dark, leafy greens such as spinach and kale and antioxidant-rich red berries to boost your immunity and supply nutrient-dense phytochemicals.  

Sniff and sip salt. For your nose, combat congestion and loosen up mucus by using saline solution drops or a neti pot. Have a post-nasal drip or bad taste in your mouth? Soothe your scratchy throat by placing up to a ½ teaspoon of salt into an 8-ounce glass of water. Gargle and rinse well.  

Arm yourself with Echinacea. The studies are mixed as to whether this herb may prevent a cold but are more in favor of it moderately relieving cold symptoms. Echinacea is most effective when taken at the onset of a cold in a dried root, tea, extract, or tincture form.

Hook up the humidifier. Inhaling the moist vapor, especially during dry winter months, may help increase sinus drainage so that you can breathe easier. Still stuffed up? Place a drop of sage or eucalyptus oil in the water of your humidifier. Both oils have natural anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties, according to studies.

For prevention:

Try andrographis in extract or capsule form to lower the risk of catching a cold or at least to reduce its severity. This bitter Indian herb has been found to stimulate the immune system and prevent cold symptoms such as sore throat, cough, and fever when taken in low dosages.

Wash hands thoroughly and often. Reduce the bacteria on your skin and lower your risk of infection instantly by scrubbing your hands with soap and water before preparing food, sitting down for a meal, and after using the bathroom. 

Consider using oil of oregano. This extract from the herb oregano has been found to work like an antiseptic in killing germs on contact. Stave off a cold by swishing a few drops of the oil in your mouth or add a few drops to a cup of water to get the full benefit.

Lay low and stay hydrated. If you are able to stay put and rest, it may speed up your recovery time. Keep beverages such as water, juice, and tea at your bedside and avoid alcohol and caffeine which can cause dehydration.

Beyond getting some much needed shuteye, what’s your favorite natural cold remedy?