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Why do our immune systems always seem to take a hit when our lives are at their busiest, leaving behind a cold that makes us want to curl up in a ball on the couch and postpone all of our engagements? Not to worry, even though there is no known cure for the common cold, there are many simple ways to ease your symptoms and help you get back on track.
If you are stuck with a cold and want to find some relief using the budget-friendly ingredients in your pantry, then here are some at-home remedies you can try to relieve and shorten the duration of your sneezes, sniffles, and other cold symptoms.
At-Home Cold Remedies
It’s important to drink liquids throughout the day, but especially when you’re dealing with a cold. A small study published in CHEST found that hot liquids may help more than cold liquids when it comes to loosening mucus. Start your day with a warm and soothing cup of Theraflu (in the form of Hot Liquid Powder) for powerful symptom relief. Try to avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks like coffee and soda, as these drinks can worsen your dehydration over time.1
Make some chicken soup.
A separate study published in CHEST found that chicken soup in particular is the comfort food go-to for helping alleviate cold symptoms. That’s because homemade chicken soup can slow down white blood cell movement, so they stay concentrated in the area of infection in the body, helping it to recover more quickly. The warm liquid in the soup can also help relieve congestion. Vegan or vegetarian? Try swapping out the chicken for tofu and using a vegetable-based broth as your base.
Increase your vitamin C.
Research published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found while daily vitamin C intake can’t prevent a cold, increasing your vitamin C intake at the onset of common cold symptoms may help treat it, especially for those experiencing physical stress — such as athletes and people living in very cold climates. There are many foods that have high vitamin C levels aside from oranges, such as peppers, guava, kiwi, broccoli, and kale.
Add some honey to your hot beverage.
Honey has been shown to have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, and studies suggest certain kinds of honey may even act as a cough suppressant for some people. Add some honey to your favourite herbal tea or to a glass of warm water with lemon for a tasty and effective at-home remedy. The warm liquid will also help loosen your mucus and decrease congestion. Keep in mind that honey should never be given to young children.2
Gargle salt water.
Take some time before or after brushing your teeth to gargle one teaspoon of salt dissolved in a glass of water. Research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that making your own salt water gargle at home can prevent upper respiratory tract infections, including colds, and can alleviate symptoms like a sore throat and nasal congestion in those who are experiencing cold symptoms.
Managing your stress levels is one of the best ways to boost your immune system and potentially shorten the duration of your cold symptoms. One of our favorite ways to reduce stress levels is through meditation. A 2012 study by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health found that regular meditation may reduce the duration and severity of the common cold. The study group that meditated regularly found that they had shorter and less severe colds during the cold and flu season than the control group.
If you are interested in trying meditation, we suggest keeping these four common features of meditation in mind: find a quiet place without any distractions, anchor your attention on something (your breath, a mantra, your physical sensations, etc.), take a non-judgemental stance towards your thoughts, and find a comfortable position that you can maintain throughout your session.3
Keep the air around you moist.
Dry air is known to exacerbate colds, so try getting a humidifier or vaporizer to add some moisture to your room and help loosen up congestion. Just be sure to clean the humidifier regularly to prevent any counterproductive buildup of bacteria.1
1. Cold remedies: What works, what doesn't, what can't hurt. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/in-depth/cold-remedies/art-20046403. Accessed 5/27/2.
2. Flu and Colds: In Depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/flu-and-colds-in-depth. Accessed 5/27/2.
3. Meditation: In Depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth. Accessed 5/27/2.