Home Remedies For The Common Cold

Posted Tue, 12/08/2009 - 10:20pm by Camilla Cheung

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With the cold season upon us, over-the-counter cold medicines are flying off the shelves as people try to prevent and treat the common cold at home. But taking cold medicines for more than a few days can lead to a worsening of symptoms when you stop taking the medicine, according to the Mayo Clinic, and they don’t prevent or shorten the duration of a cold. Cough and cold medicines are also not recommended for young children. So what are some simple and natural cold remedies that you can use at home to treat yourself and your loved ones, and to keep your family healthy?

There is no cure for the common cold, but there are some simple treatments you can use at home to relieve cold symptoms.

Fluids — Including Chicken Soup!

There’s a reason why drinking plenty of fluids is the mantra most frequently repeated by doctors and patients. The most important thing you can do to treat a cold is to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water, juice, chicken broth or lemon honey water can loosen decongestion and prevent dehydration. Staying hydrated helps to keep mucus thin and easier to cough up.

Warm lemon honey water can help soothe a sore throat and keep you hydrated at the same time. When it comes to the tried and true home remedy of chicken soup, studies have shown that drinking chicken soup really does have some benefits. In fact, a team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that many of the ingredients in chicken soup, including boiled chicken extract alone, had anti-inflammatory properties, which may explain why drinking chicken soup can relieve sore throats and other cold symptoms. Further study by the team found that chicken soup and many of its ingredients also inhibited the movement of neutrophils, white blood cells that combat colds, and stimulate the release of mucus, causing the stuffy nose and cough so common in colds. The team found that many canned varieties of soup worked just as well as homemade chicken soup, although the psychologically comforting “tender loving care” factor of homemade soup could have some beneficial properties itself.

Natural Symptom Relief

The virus that causes the common cold thrives in dry conditions, part of the reason why colds proliferate in the winter. Turning on a humidifier in your room can help to soothe mucus membranes and scratchy throats that have been irritated by dry air. It can also help relieve dry coughs caused by colds. A salt-water gargle can also help relieve the pain of a sore throat.

The Jury Is Still Out – Vitamin C, Echinacea, and Zinc

Three common alternative treatments for colds include taking Vitamin C, Echinacea herbal extracts, and zinc. In spite of many studies researching the effectiveness of these methods, there is no conclusive evidence that they effectively reduce the duration of a cold in an average person, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some studies show that they can reduce the severity and duration of colds, but other studies show the opposite. Nevertheless, many swear by these methods, and they are not harmful if taken in moderate quantities. Avoid taking more than 2000 mg a day of Vitamin C and follow the recommended dosages for all three treatments.

A cold should only last for about a week. If your symptoms worsen or do not improve after 7-10 days, or you experience difficulty breathing, the US National Institute of Health recommends that you contact your doctor for treatment.

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