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December 18, 2009 at 1:48 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The 4 Best Remedies for a Cold: Why They Work and How to Use Them

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

As the weather gets colder, the common cold becomes even more common. Preventative measures, such as eating healthfully, getting plenty of sleep, and bundling up before you head out doors are always best, but if you or your loved ones end up catching a cold bug, you can take several easy steps now to reduce the virus's effect. While there is no cure for the common cold, you can alleviate cold symptoms for you and your loved ones with these natural (and inexpensive!) home remedies:


Doctors agree though drinking plenty of liquids, especially water, is important for everyone, it is even more important when you're fighting off an illness such as a cold virus.

Drink It. Make sure you and your loved ones get their 8 glasses (or 64 ounces) of filtered water a day. Try adding a little juice or a slice of lemon, lime, or orange for more flavor, and avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and soda, which only dehydrate and depress your natural immune defenses with sugar and caffeine.

Use a Humidifier. Humidity is another way water can effectively relieve cold symptoms. Cold viruses do best in dry conditions, which is why they are most prevalent in the winter when air is dry. The dry air also strips moisture from mucus membranes, which can exacerbate a stuffy nose and sore throat. If you have a humidifier use it, but make sure to change the water every day or you'll risk mold, fungi and bacteria.

Take a Hot Shower. Even if you don't own an air humidifier, you can still benefit from humidity with a hot shower. Simply turn your shower on full heat and close the door to lock in the steam. Once the room in nice and steamy sit and relax (safely away from the scalding water of course) for 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat as often as possible to help loosen mucous and relieve congestion.

#2. Salt

Gargle with Salt Water. If you have a sore throat, try a salt water gargle. Gargling salt water is thought to both kill bacteria and reduce the swelling that causes soreness.Make your own salt water gargle by combining 8 ounces of warm water and 2 teaspoons of salt. Repeat at least three times daily (the more the better) for best results.

Use Saline Nasal Spray. For a stuffy nose, try a saline nasal spray. A variety of saline nasal sprays can be purchased at your local drug store, but why waste your time and money? An effective spray can be made easily and inexpensively and BONUS! You'll know exactly what's in it. Just combine teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of water, and boil to remove impurities. Once the mixture has cooled completely, put it in a clean nasal spray bottle or bulb syringe and dispense six to ten drops of water in each nostril.

#3. Honey

Though honey has long been used as a natural cold remedy, a recent study provides hard proof. 105 children were given either a dose of honey, honey-flavored cough medicine, or no treatment at all before they went to sleep. In the morning, parents were asked to rate their children's symptoms. Though all of the children got better after a night's rest, parents consistently rated plain, natural honey highest for its effectiveness.

Take One Teaspoon of Honey Daily. Honey is believed to help heal an irritated throat with its antioxidant and antibacterial effects while it soothes and coats. You can reap the benefits yourself with just a 1 teaspoon a night (though because of botulism risk, honey is NOT recommended for children under 1).

#4. Chicken Soup

Sip Chicken Soup. Maybe the best known home remedy for the common cold, chicken soup, has been investigated by scientists who found it helps relieve cold symptoms in two ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils. Second, it helps to speed the movement of mucus through the nose, both relieving congestion and reducing the amount of time a virus is in contact with the nose lining. Though you can get the same effect from canned soup, nothing can beat homemade soup made with love. Here's a very simple recipe:

Simple Homemade Chicken Soup (makes 5 servings)

Ingredients: 1/2 (3 pound) chicken with bones, Water to cover, 2 carrots, halved, 2 stalks celery, halved, 1/2 large onion, halved, 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon (optional - most do contain MSG),Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions: Add the chicken, carrots, celery, and onion in a large pot and cover with cold water. Simmer uncovered until the meat falls off the bones and skim off foam (important, as impurities in the food rise to the top as foam) as it appears. Remove chicken and vegetables from broth. Pick meat off the bones and chop the vegetables. Season broth with salt, pepper and chicken bouillon to taste. Return chicken and vegetables to pot. Stir, serve, and enjoy.

Sources: Alternative Medicine: Common Cold Remedies

Mayo Clinic: Cold Remedies: What works, what doesn't, what can't hurt

eHow: Why Does Gargling with Salt Water Help a Sore Throat?

AllRecipes: Homemade Chicken Soup

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