Home Remedies for a Cold
The common cold is all-too common. If yo have small children, you may have noticed that colds can be a seemingly endless challenge, especially during the school year. Time spent indoors, with lots of other children, ramps up the risk of contracting a cold. What’s a mother to do?
Colds will always be with us. The annoying illness we call a cold is actually caused by 200 or more different viruses. So it’s unlikely an effective vaccine against the common cold can or will ever be created. There are other steps you can take, though.
The first involves minimizing contact with cold viruses. Emphasize good hand-washing hygiene. Cold viruses survive on surfaces long enough to be passed along through touch. Door knobs are a great place to pick up stray viruses. So are computer keyboards, stair railings, etc. Washing the hands with good old soap and water is quite effective at removing these hitchhiking bugs before they can infect the delicate tissues of the eyes, nose, or mouth. You may also prevent the spread of the flu virus, too.
Teach your children to wash hands regularly throughout the day to reduce the likelihood they’ll get a cold or the flu. There’s no need for antibacterial soap, ordinary soap works perfectly well. And it doesn’t contain toxic chemicals.
Of course, once you get a cold it’s too late for hand washing. To reduce the duration and severity of colds, consider taking lozenges that include some form of zinc. Studies show that zinc lozenges deliver elemental zinc to the throat and help prevent the virus from spreading. Side effects may include temporary alterations in the sense of taste and/or smell, though.
Research suggests that getting lots of vitamin C can help reduce the severity of colds. Vitamin C is available as a supplement, and of course, it’s abundant in whole foods like kiwi, oranges, red bell peppers, chilis, papaya and even kale. Try to get up to 2 g of vitamin C per day at the first sign of a cold.
Finally, there’s some evidence that the folk remedy, Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower), can boost immune system function enough to help fight a cold. Like other remedies, it can’t cure a cold, but may reduce the severity or duration of the illness. Look for echinacea in the supplement section at your drugstore or grocery.
Nahas R1, Balla A.Complementary and alternative medicine for prevention and treatment of the common cold.Can Fam Physician. 2011 Jan;57(1):31-6.