Having a cold can range from a mild inconvenience to a temporarily debilitating ailment; but regardless of severity it’s an unpleasant experience to say the least. Almost every one will be a victim to a cold several times throughout their life, while those with poor immune systems may fight a couple every year.
Although there is currently no cure for the common cold, there are steps you can take to alleviate symptoms and speed up progression.
The best action you can take is simply to rest. Your body needs extra sleep to help muster energy for your immune system to fight off the unwanted pathogen causing your symptoms. Outside of ensuring you get adequate sleep, there are a few natural and over-the-counter remedies that can aid in relieving sore throats, minimizing congestion, suppressing coughs and decreasing pain and fatigue associated with colds.
These include: anti-congestants, humidifiers, low dose pain-relievers and herbal remedies such as teas. Another way to help control your illness is to adjust your diet.
1. Chicken Soup
Your Mom was not wrong when she told you chicken soup works miracles. Well maybe miracles is a generous word but it certainly can help and research is there to back this up. Studies have demonstrated that this classic cold-friendly meal can thin mucus and decrease overall congestion, as well as potentially provide some anti-inflammatory results (1).
Adding honey to hot teas can have a two-fold effect: the heat from the hot water can soothe a sore throat while the honey can operate as an effective cough suppressant. In fact, a study comparing the effects of honey, and over-the-counter medication and no intervention at all found that those in the “honey” group reported greater cough suppression and more restful nights than those in either of the other two conditions (2).
3. Coconut Water
Staying hydrated is crucial to recovering from any illness, especially those of viral origins. Beyond hydration, your body requires sufficient intake of electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, phosphate and other vital amino acids which coconut water can provide.
Studies have demonstrated coconut water hydrates more effectively while being more tolerable and easier on the stomach than other sources of electrolytes (3).
The ginger root is full of anti-inflammatories which can ameliorate sore throats and body aches. It can be consumed in tea form, or mixed in drinks for easy digestion (4).
Outside of aiding directly with symptoms, ginger can also lead to numerous health benefits, such as possible improved sleep which can itself help heal your cold.
Garlic contains a potent antibacterial agent called allicin that is generated right after it is crushed. Raw garlic, therefore, can be helpful to alleviating discomfort associated with the beginning stages of a cold.