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11 Cold and Flu Home Remedies

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  • Treat Your Cold at Home

    Treat Your Cold at Home

    Being sick, even when you’re home in bed, isn’t fun. The combination of body aches, fever, chills, and nasal congestion can be enough to make anyone miserable.

    There are plenty of home remedies that can help alleviate your symptoms and get you back to normal. If you still feel sick after a few weeks, make an appointment with your doctor. If you have trouble breathing, have a rapid heartbeat, feel faint, or experience other severe symptoms, get medical help sooner.

    Keep reading to see what cold and flu remedies you can conjure up at home.

  • Chicken Soup

    Chicken Soup

    Your grandmother was right: Chicken soup may not be a cure-all, but it’s a great choice when you’re sick. Research published in the medical journal Chest suggests that enjoying a bowl of chicken soup with vegetables, prepared from scratch or warmed from a can, can slow the movement of neutrophils in your body. Neutrophils are a common type of white blood cell. They help protect your body from infection. When they’re moving slowly, they stay more concentrated in areas of your body that require the most healing.

    The study found that chicken soup was effective for reducing the symptoms of upper respiratory infections in particular. Low-sodium soup also carries great nutritional value and helps keep you hydrated. It’s a good choice, no matter how you’re feeling.

  • Ginger


    The health benefits of ginger root have been touted for centuries, but now we have scientific evidence of its curative properties. A few slices of raw ginger root in boiling water may help soothe a cough or a sore throat. Research suggests it can also ward off feelings of nausea that so often accompany influenza. For example, one study published in the British Journal of Anesthesia found that just 1 gram of ginger can “alleviate clinical nausea of diverse causes.”

  • Honey


    Honey has a variety of antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Drinking honey in tea with lemon can help ease sore throat pain. Research suggests that honey is an effective cough suppressant, too. A study published in Pediatrics revealed that 10 grams of honey given at bedtime reduced the severity of cough symptoms in children. In addition to coughing less, the children reportedly slept more soundly, which also helps reduce cold symptoms.

    You should never give honey to a child younger than 1 year old. Honey often contains botulinum spores. While they’re usually harmless to older children and adults, infants’ immune systems aren’t able to fight them off.

  • Garlic


    Garlic contains the compound allicin, which may have antimicrobial properties. Adding a garlic supplement to your diet might reduce the severity of cold symptoms. It might even help you avoid getting sick in the first place. According to a research review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, one study of 146 participants found that people who took a garlic supplement reported fewer cases of the common cold than those who didn’t.

    More research needs to be done on the potential cold-fighting benefits of garlic. In the meantime, adding more garlic to your diet probably won’t hurt.

  • Echinacea


    Native Americans have used the herb and root of the echinacea plant to treat infections for more than 400 years. Its active ingredients include flavonoids, chemicals that have many therapeutic effects on the body. For example, flavonoids can help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.

    Research on the herb’s effectiveness at fighting the common cold and flu has been mixed. But one review published in The Lancet: Infectious Diseases suggests that taking echinacea may lower your risk of developing the common cold by more than 50 percent. It may also reduce the length of a cold. If you’re a healthy adult, consider taking 1 to 2 grams of echinacea root or herb as a tea, three times daily, for no longer than one week.

  • Vitamin C

    Vitamin C

    Vitamin C plays an important role in your body and has many health benefits. Along with limes, oranges, grapefruits, leafy greens, and other fruits and vegetables, lemons are a good source of vitamin C. Adding fresh lemon juice to hot tea with honey may help reduce phlegm when you’re sick. Drinking hot or cold lemonade may also help.

    While these drinks may not clear up your cold entirely, they can help you get the vitamin C that your immune system needs. According to a research review published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, getting enough vitamin C can help relieve upper respiratory tract infections and other illnesses.

  • Probiotics


    Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria and yeast that are found in your body, some foods, and supplements. They may help keep your gut and immune system healthy. For example, a study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews suggests that taking probiotics may help reduce your chance of getting sick with an upper respiratory infection.

    For a delicious and nutritious source of helpful bacteria, include probiotic yogurt in your diet. Besides its potential benefits for your immune system, yogurt is a healthy snack that provides plenty of protein and calcium. Look for products that list live bacteria on the label.

  • Salt Water

    Salt Water

    According to research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, gargling with salt water may help prevent upper respiratory infections. It may also decrease the severity of cold symptoms. For example, it may help ease sore throat pain and nasal congestion.

    Gargling with salt water reduces and loosens mucus, which contains bacteria and allergens. To try this remedy at home, dissolve a teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water. Swish it around your mouth and throat. Then spit it out.

    If you use salt water in a neti pot for nasal congestion, use water that’s been boiled first and then cooled. Also, be sure to rinse the neti pot with hot water and antibacterial soap after each use, and air-dry it. Replace the neti pot every few months. This helps prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.

  • Vapor Rub

    Vapor Rub

    You might not like the smell, but some old-fashioned topical ointments, such as vapor rub, appear to reduce cold symptoms in children older than 2 years, according to a study published in Pediatrics. Just one or two applications before bed can help open air passages to combat congestion, reduce coughing, and improve sleep. Vapor rub is gaining traction among some doctors who encourage parents to avoid giving over-the-counter cold medicines to young children because of unwanted side effects.

  • Humidity


    Influenza thrives and spreads more easily in dry environments. Creating more humidity in your home may help reduce your exposure to this flu-causing virus. Increased humidity may also reduce nasal inflammation, making it easier to breathe when you’re sick. Temporarily adding a cool mist humidifier to your bedroom may help you feel more comfortable. This is especially true in winter, when dry indoor heat can exacerbate your symptoms. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil might also stimulate your breathing.

    Remember, the water used in humidifiers needs to be changed daily to stop mold and other fungi from growing. For the same effect without a humidifier, take a long shower or linger in a steamy bathroom.

  • Warm Baths

    Warm Baths

    Sometimes, you can reduce a child’s fever by giving them a warm sponge bath. Warm baths can also reduce cold and flu symptoms in adults. Adding Epsom salt and baking soda to the water can help reduce body aches. Adding a few drops of essential oil, such as tea tree, juniper, rosemary, thyme, orange, lavender, or eucalyptus, may also have a soothing effect.

  • Learn More

    Learn More

    There are many ways that people treat their cold and flu symptoms with home remedies. Some of those remedies may seem a bit weird, but there are people and communities that swear by their effectiveness. To learn more about the oddest options out there, check out the weirdest cold treatments from around the world

    If you want to avoid getting sick all together, you should proactively boost your immune system. For that, learn our secrets to never getting sick

    We wish you and yours the speediest of recoveries.