Remedies for the common cold

Colds cannot be cured. The common cold is caused by a virus, and usually just needs to run its course. However, there are things one can do to treat the symptoms of a cold, and get through it as unscathed as possible. If you really can’t get, or don’t want, antihistamines (to treat the itching, watery eyes, runny noses or tickly throat), decongestants (to relieve a stuffy nose, blocked sinuses and sinus headaches), or cough suppressants (to relieve a cough that keeps you awake at night), here are some other things to try. These remedies are categorized from most likely to least likely to work.

Most effective cold treatments:

Drink plenty of fluids and get some rest. Your body is producing lots of fluid that need to be replenished. Take things easy and allow your body to heal itself.

Chicken soup. It’s an old standby, but one that has some good science behind it. A lot of people find that they crave hot soups when they have a cold; the steam from the soup, or indeed any hot beverage, can ease congestion and open the airways.

Spicy foods, like curry, horseradish, mustard and chillis can help clear the sinuses.

Possibly effective cold treatments:

Vitamin C in high doses has been a popular treatment for the cold, ever since Linus Pauling first popularised the idea in his book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold. However, since then, evidence to support its use for shortening or preventing a cold has been hard to find.

Zinc is another popular treatment for colds, but again, the evidence for it is limited.

Nasal washes: Inhaling liquid through the nose and out the mouth is a centuries old decongestant treatment. Home made preparations can be put together using a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda in warm water. So far, the evidence shows little effect on cold symptoms, but they may be useful for very temporary relief of congestion.

Ineffective cold treatments:

Echinacea. A benchmark study in 2005 found that this herb doesn’t treat or help colds, contrary to  received wisdom. While a few other studies have come up with positive results, there is nothing conclusive to indicate the use of Echinacea either prophylactically or to limit cold duration. You can read a long review here

So, just take care of yourself. Get lots of rest, eat and drink hot soups and spicy foods. Most colds just need time.



National Institutes of Health

Cough remedies

This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 at 8:15 pm and is filed under country remedies, home remedies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.