It’s that stuffy head, runny nose, nasty cold time of year. Viruses run amok when the temperatures drop, so it’s the season to catch a cold. As the old saying goes, a cold lasts a week, but 7 days if you treat it. You can’t do a whole lot to “cure” a cold, but there are quite a few ways to help make the symptoms more tolerable (and these natural cold remedies do not include a trip to the pharmacy).
Why pharmaceutical cold remedies should not be your first choice
While many people run to the drugstore at the first sign of a sniffle, it’s important to remember that sometimes the side effects can be worse than the symptoms you’re trying to treat.
Antihistamines are supposed to stop the watering eyes, runny noses and scratchy throats but result in severe drowsiness for most people. Other common side effects are dizziness, headaches, dry mouth, dry eyes, and fatigue.
Decongestants (like pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine) allege to reduce sinus congestion, but can also dangerously increase heart rates and blood pressure in some people. Other side effects are Restlessness, insomnia, tremors, and anxiety.
Phenylpropanolamine (PPA), another common ingredient in cold and flu medicines, can increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, especially in women ages 19-45.
For people who take monoamine oxidase inhibitors or SSRI antidepressants, the above medication types can cause lethal interactions.
OTC Cough Medicine
Dextromethorphan, the most common active ingredient in over-the-counter cough medicine, can be deadly if the recommended dosage is exceeded. As well, it is one of the most abused OTCs for those seeking a quick “high”. Common side effects of dextromethorphan are drowsiness, nausea, confusion, and dizziness. Expectorants and suppressants can cause either constipation or diarrhea.
Medicated Nasal Sprays
Over the counter medicated nasal sprays work quickly to open the nasal passages, but if they are used for more than 3-5 days in a row, they can result in more congestion than you had in the first place due to the “rebound effect” or rhinitis medicamentosa. When this occurs, the swelling of the nasal passages can become permanent, requiring surgical intervention.
A collection of natural cold remedies
You can get relief without diving into the chemicals. Following, find links to DIY home remedies that you can make yourself, as well as links to homeopathic and herbal pre-made remedies.
We keep these remedies on hand, as well as the ingredients for making them. Viruses are normally short-lived at our home, or at least the intense part of the sickness.
- Try a DIY Healing Vapor Rub. This one is simple to make, and if you keep some basic essential oils on hand, you most likely have everything you need already to whip this up. (I made this for my daughter recently and it was very soothing.)
- A fragrant, steaming cup of herbal tea can make everything better. This article discusses the herbal teas you should have in your home arsenal, including several that will help soothe cold symptoms.
- Breathe Free by Rootology contains a combination of 13 herbal extracts, tested for purity and strength. This remedy reduces congestion, alleviates sinus pressure, and relieves a runny nose.
- Add a Eucalyptus Shower Bomb to a steamy shower. The moist, scented air will help the sufferer breathe more easily.
- This Honey, Lemon, and Ginger cough syrup will not only relieve cough symptoms but also help to boost your immunity.
- Fire cider is a traditional remedy that has been used for centuries. Unfortunately, it usually takes a few weeks to be ready. This easy recipe provides instant gratification (and relief).
- Speaking of your immune system, this immune-boosting smoothie will help make your system powerful enough to fight off illness before it happens, or to battle a cold effectively if you already have one.
- This is a guide to the different herbs you can use to make your own cough syrup based on your specific symptoms.
- Studies show that when zinc comes into contact with the rhinovirus (the virus that causes colds)it can prevent replication, shortening the amount of time that the sufferer is ill. One study recommends one lozenge every two hours. Lozenges and syrups, as opposed to capsules, are the recommended treatment.
- Nothing tastes better when you’re sick than soup made with homemade chicken or turkey broth. I can broth to be pulled out when the bugs strike our house. Here’s the recipe we use for the basis of our homemade soup. (Hint: the more garlic you add, the more healing power your soup will have.)
- Taking large doses of Vitamin C is a fairly common practice, and studies show that it can be effective in reducing the duration of cold symptoms. This website offers several different Vitamin C protocols you can try. Be sure to only use a high-quality Vitamin C supplement when you are using it therapeutically.
- Elderberry extract is often used for colds, but studies show it is more effective in treating the flu. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether your illness is caused by a cold virus or a flu virus, and elderberry does have antiviral properties, so taking it certainly won’t hurt you. Sambucol is the only standardized elderberry extract that has been used in studies. You can purchase it here or make your own syrup.