A sore throat, congestion, fuzzy head, cough. Cold season is upon us and so are its misery-making symptoms. While prescription drugs may help, your first line of defense can be found in your local supermarket or vitamin store.
Here are 6 natural remedies you could use to treat your cold:
1. Get Hydrated
Get plenty of fluids. It helps break up your congestion, makes your throat moist, and keeps you from getting dehydrated.
Need ideas for something to drink? Try water, sports drinks, herbal teas, fruit drinks, or ginger ale. Your mother's chicken soup might help, too!
2. Eat Garlic
Garlic contains the compound allicin, which may have antimicrobial properties. Adding a garlic supplement to your diet might reduce the severity of cold symptoms. According to some research, it might even help you avoid getting sick in the first place.
More research needs to be done on the potential cold-fighting benefits of garlic. In the meantime, adding more garlic to your diet probably won’t hurt.
3. Focus on Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays an important role in your body and has many health benefits. Along with limes, oranges, grapefruits, leafy greens, and other fruits and vegetables, lemons are a good source of vitamin C. Adding fresh lemon juice to hot tea with honey may reduce phlegm when you’re sick. Drinking hot or cold lemonade may also help.
While these drinks may not clear up your cold entirely, they can help you get the vitamin C that your immune system needs. Getting enough vitamin C can relieve upper respiratory tract infections and other illnesses.
4. Use Honey
Honey, made from flower pollen and enzymes in bee saliva, has antioxidants and antiviral and antibacterial properties – all of which make it a top cold-fighter. Antioxidants in honey – all kinds – may also boost the immune system.
A 2007 Pennsylvania State University study found that in 105 children with upper respiratory infections, those taking honey had a 40% improvement in their coughs and restless sleep compared to untreated children.
“Honey works especially well on coughs,” says Elena Klimenko, M.D., an integrative medicine practitioner in New York City. “And it helps eliminate the secondary bacterial infections that can come with colds and flu.”
5. Rest and Keep Warm
It's especially important to get rest when you first come down with a cold or the flu. It helps your body direct its energy to fight off your infection. This battle taxes your body. So give it a little help by lying down under a blanket to stay warm if necessary.
6. Drink Ginger Tea
The gnarly root of the ginger plant contains compounds called gingerols that attack pain, inflammation, germs and viruses. Ginger suppresses inflammatory compounds, according to a 2005 study at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
“The evidence centers on relieving stomach aches and vomiting,” Shinto says. “But when you have a cold or flu, you need fluids, and ginger tea is a nice way of getting them without lots of sugar.