11 popular natural remedies for colds

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The common cold is an infection of the nose and throat caused by viruses. We generally catch two to four colds a year.

Cold symptoms, which usually appear one to three days after exposure to the cold virus, include runny nose, cough, stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing, watery eyes, mild headache , mild tiredness, body aches and absence of fever. 102 degrees.

Get Medication Information / Brianna Gilmartin

Cold remedies

Here are 11 of the most popular natural remedies to prevent and treat the common cold . In addition to these remedies, certain foods can also help strengthen the immune system, and additional cough relief and postnasal drops may be recommended.

Note that there is no scientific basis for claiming that any remedy can cure the common cold and that alternative medicine should not be used as a substitute for standard treatment. If you plan to use any cold remedies, be sure to check with your doctor first.

1) Zinc lollipops

Zinc is an essential mineral required by more than 300 enzymes in our body. It is found naturally in foods like meat, liver, seafood, and eggs. The recommended total daily intake (RDA) is 12 mg for women and 15 mg for men, the amount found in a typical multivitamin.

Zinc lozenges can often be found in health stores, online, and in some pharmacies that are sold as cold medications. Several studies have shown that zinc can help shorten the duration of cold symptoms, especially if people start taking it within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms. Zinc also reduced the severity of symptoms and shortened the duration of symptoms from three to four days. The problem is that many of these zinc studies were flawed, so higher quality studies are needed. Zinc lozenges can work by blocking the replication of the cold virus (preventing it from spreading) or by reducing the ability of the cold virus to enter the cells of the nose and throat.

The zinc lozenges used in the studies contained a minimum of 13.3 mg of elemental zinc. The pills were taken every two hours during the day, starting immediately after the onset of cold symptoms. Studies that have shown zinc to be ineffective may have used too low a dose of zinc or contained flavor-enhancing compounds known to reduce the effectiveness of zinc, such as citric acid (found in citrus fruits), tartaric acid, sorbitol, or mannitol.

Zinc lozenges typically contain zinc gluconate or zinc acetate, providing 13.3 mg of elemental zinc per tablet. In general, it is recommended to take one pill every two to four hours during the day, with a maximum of six to 12 pills per day.

Side effects of zinc can include nausea and a bad taste in your mouth. Zinc lozenges are not recommended to prevent colds or for long-term use because zinc supplements that exceed 15 mg per day can interfere with the absorption of the mineral copper and cause copper deficiency.

2) vitamin D

There is some evidence that people with higher levels of vitamin D may have a lower risk of colds .

3) talus

Astragalus root has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to boost immunity and prevent colds and flu. Research has shown that Astragalus has antiviral properties and boosts the immune system, although there have been no clinical trials on the effectiveness of Astragalus for colds. people.

Astragalus is also an antioxidant and is recommended for conditions such as heart disease. It is being investigated as a possible herbal remedy for people with conditions that weaken their immune system.

Astragalus can be found in capsule, tea, or extract form at health food stores, or as a dried root at Chinese herbal stores and some health food stores. The dried root can be difficult to find.

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners generally recommend taking Astragalus to prevent the common cold and avoid it if you are already sick. A cup of soup made with astragalus root is often recommended once or several times a week during the winter to prevent colds.

Astragalus can increase the effectiveness of antiviral medications such as acyclovir or interferon, compounding the potential side effects of these medications (such as possible kidney failure and other side effects). It can also work against immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Neosar) or corticosteroids. It can lower blood glucose or blood pressure, increasing the effects of blood pressure or diabetes medications.

4) garlic

Garlic is one of the most popular home remedies for colds. Many cultures have a home remedy for the common cold using garlic, whether that is chicken soup with lots of garlic, a raw minced garlic drink, or simply eating raw garlic.

Garlic's cold-fighting compound is believed to be allicin, which has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Allicin is what gives garlic its distinctive spicy flavor. To get the maximum amount of allicin, fresh garlic should be minced or crushed and raw. It is also available in pill form.

In a study of 146 people, participants received either a garlic supplement or a placebo for 12 weeks from November to February. People who took garlic cut their risk of colds by more than half. The study also found that garlic shortens recovery time in people who have a cold. More research is needed to confirm these results.

Garlic has some potential side effects and safety concerns. Bad breath and body odor are perhaps the most common side effects; however, dizziness, sweating, headache, fever, chills, and a runny nose have also been reported. Large amounts can irritate the mouth or cause an upset stomach.

Garlic supplements should be avoided in people with blood clotting disorders two weeks before or after surgery, and in those taking "blood thinning" medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) or supplements believed to affect blood clotting, such as vitamin E or ginkgo.

Garlic can also lower blood glucose and increase insulin release, so it should be used with caution in people taking medications to lower blood sugar. People allergic to lily plants (including onions , leeks, and garlic) should avoid garlic. Pregnant women should avoid consuming garlic supplements, as they can increase the risk of bleeding.

5) vitamin C

In 1968, Linus Pauling, Ph.D., proposed the theory that people have individual needs for various vitamins and some of them exceed the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Pauling suggested that taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily could reduce the incidence of colds in most people. Since then, vitamin C has become a popular cold remedy.

A Cochrane Collaboration review investigated whether vitamin C supplements in doses of 200 mg or more per day can reduce the frequency, duration, or severity of the common cold. The researchers analyzed 30 previously published studies (with a total of 11,350 participants) that met their quality criteria. They found that vitamin C does not prevent colds. There was a slight decrease in the duration and severity of cold symptoms. This appears to have markedly reduced the risk of colds in people engaged in short-term vigorous physical activity (such as running marathons or skiing) or in those exposed to the cold. temperature.

Vitamin C in excess of 2000 mg can cause diarrhea, loose stools , and gas.

6) Honey

Honey is a popular home remedy for coughs and colds in many cultures. New research from the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine provides the first evidence that honey can help calm coughs in children and help them sleep better. The researchers administered honey or honey-flavored cough medicine to 105 children with colds, or no treatment at all. All the children improved, but honey has always shown the highest parental ratings for their children's cough symptoms.

Researchers say that honey can work by covering and soothing a sore throat, and it is believed to have antioxidant and antibacterial effects. The dark-colored honey like buckwheat honey used in the study is particularly rich in antioxidants.

Honey is not recommended for children under 1 year of age due to the risk of botulism. Regular consumption of honey at night can also contribute to the development of cavities .

7) Echinacea

Although recent discoveries have called into question the use of echinacea for colds and flu , it is still one of the most popular herbs in use today. A 2005 study from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that echinacea did little to prevent or reduce the common cold. There have been many critics of the study who argued that it should not be used as proof that echinacea does not work. However, the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed 15 studies of echinacea and found that it was no more effective than placebo in preventing the common cold.

Although there are several types of echinacea, the aerial parts (leaves, flowers, and stems) of echinacea purpurea have been the subject of most research.

Herbalists often recommend taking echinacea every two to three hours with a total daily dose of three grams or more per day at the first sign of symptoms. After a few days, the dose is usually reduced and continued for the next week. Echinacea is also found in Airborne , an over-the-counter herbal and vitamin supplement.

8) ginseng

Although there are many types of ginseng grown in North America, Panax quinquefolius or "North American ginseng" has become popular as a remedy for colds and flu. Compounds called polysaccharides and ginsenosides are believed to be the active constituents of ginseng. One of the most popular ginseng products is Cold-fX.

Two studies tested Cold-fX in 198 nursing home residents who received Cold-fX or a placebo. There were no statistically significant differences in the number of people who got the flu or in the severity or duration of the flu. The researchers analyzed the results of the two studies together, and only then did the results show that Cold-fX reduced the incidence of influenza. Although it is popular and some people believe in it, large, well-designed and independent trials are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of this product.

There is concern that ginseng may reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners (blood thinners or antiplatelet drugs) such as warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin. May interact with diabetes medications, antidepressants known as MAO inhibitors, antipsychotic medications (for example, chlorpromazine (thorazine), fluphenazine (prolixin), olanzapine (zyprexa)), medications that stimulate the central nervous system (used to treat such conditions, such as care). hyperactivity deficit disorder, narcolepsy, obesity, and heart disease) and estrogen replacement therapy or oral contraceptives.

Ginseng root is believed to have estrogen-like properties and is generally not recommended for people with hormonal conditions such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and breast, ovarian, uterine, or prostate cancer. People with heart disease, schizophrenia, or diabetes should also not take ginseng root unless they are under the supervision of a doctor. The manufacturer Cold-fX notes on their website that because their product is not a whole plant extract, but instead contains a specific compound found in ginseng, it does not have the side effects and safety issues commonly associated with ginseng; Although this is possible, there is no published safety data to support these claims.

9) ginger

Ginger root is another popular remedy for coughs, colds, and sore throats. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat coughs and colds with a clear runny nose, headache, neck and shoulder pain, and a white coating on the tongue. In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, ginger is also used for coughs and colds.

Hot ginger tea is a popular home remedy for cold and sore throat symptoms. Sometimes honey and lemon are added.

While eating a normal amount of ginger rarely causes side effects, taking too much can cause heartburn and an upset stomach. People with gallstones, bleeding disorders, and those taking blood thinners (anticoagulants and antiplatelets) such as aspirin and warfarin (Coumadin) should consult a doctor before taking ginger. Eating ginger should be avoided two weeks before or after surgery.

10) Elder

Elderberry ( Sambucus nigra ) is an herb that has long been used as a folk remedy for colds, sinus infections, and the flu. In preliminary laboratory studies, elderberry extracts have been found to fight viruses. Research has been limited and most of it has been related to the influenza virus. Researchers believe that anthocyanins, a compound found in elderberries, may be an active ingredient that strengthens the immune system and blocks the adhesion of the influenza virus to our cells.

Health food stores sell elderberry juice, syrup, and capsules. Side effects, although rare, can include mild indigestion or allergic reactions.

Only commercially prepared elderberry extracts should be used because fresh leaves, flowers, bark, young shoots, berries, and immature roots contain cyanide and can lead to cyanide poisoning.

11) Steam inhalation with eucalyptus

Inhaling the fumes with eucalyptus oil can help relieve cold and flu symptoms. It is believed to thin the mucus in the airways.

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