At the risk of sounding painfully obvious, having a bad cold is just no fun. Walking around with a headache, overstuffed sinuses and a coalminer’s cough is no one’s idea of a good time. So, what do we do about it? In keeping with Life University’s vitalistic philosophy, we strive to find natural and holistic ways to get and stay well.
Natural and holistic cold remedies do exist that can help soothe symptoms, so let’s see how to fight a cold the natural way. The Mayo Clinic explores healing methods to try in their article “Cold remedies: What works, what doesn’t, what can’t hurt”.
Tried and True Cold Remedies
- Keep hydrated- Proper hydration can help to flush germs out of your system faster. Not to mention, staying hydrated is good health advice in general. Drink plenty of water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey to loosen congestion and prevent dehydration. Limit or avoid alcohol, caffeinated soda or coffee, as these can worsen dehydration.
- Sip warm liquids- Many cultures swear by taking in warm liquids to fight colds. A nice chicken soup, tea or warm apple juice might be just the ticket.
- Get plenty of rest- A well-rested body will heal more effectively.
- Soothing a sore throat- Saltwater gargles can be helpful to relieve a sore or scratchy throat. Dissolve ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt in an eight-ounce glass of warm water, then pour the mixture toward the back of your throat and gargle the water for at least 10 seconds before spitting it out into the sink.
- Try some honey, honey- A spoonful of honey swallowed a few times a day can also be helpful, as well as honey in teas and other products. Ice chips and natural soothing lozenges can also be helpful.
- No more stuffiness- Saline nasal drops and sprays can be purchased that help clear stuffiness and congestion. Many of these are essentially salt water and can be a good alternative or supplement to over-the-counter medications.
- Bring on the moisture- A cool mist vaporizer or humidifier puts moisture into the air, which in turn can help loosen congestion. Be sure to change the water daily and clean the unit as directed.
Potential Cold Remedies
Every person’s body is different, and as such, different remedies have varying results. Here are some common popular cold remedy alternatives that are still being studied to determine just how effective they are, but still might be worth trying.
- Vitamin C- It appears that vitamin C’s cold-fighting superpowers have been a bit overblown over the years, and in fact, the vitamin probably won’t help the average person prevent a cold. That being said, some studies have found that taking vitamin C before cold symptoms start may shorten the time that cold symptoms are present. For those at high risk of developing colds due to lots of proximity to people, incorporating vitamin C in your diet can be beneficial.
- Echinacea- This is a flowering herb found in some dietary supplements. Study results on whether echinacea prevents or shortens colds are mixed at best. Some studies show no benefit, while others show some reduction in the severity and duration of cold symptoms when taken in the early stages of a cold. Different types of echinacea used in different studies may have contributed to mixed results. Echinacea seems to be most effective if taken when you notice cold symptoms and then continued for seven to 10 days. It appears to be safe for healthy adults, but take note that it can interact with many drugs. Check with your primary healthcare provider before taking echinacea or any other supplements.
- Several studies suggest that zinc supplements may reduce the length of a cold, yet research has turned up mixed results about zinc and colds. Some studies show that zinc lozenges or syrup reduce the length of a cold by about one day, especially when taken within 24 to 48 hours of the first signs and symptoms of a cold. Zinc also has potentially harmful side effects, so talk to your primary healthcare provider before considering zinc to prevent or reduce the length of colds.
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