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 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.
Some of the cold and flu remedies you can use up to make you feel better.
Chicken soup may not be a cure-all, but it’s a great choice when you’re sick. Research 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 the areas of your body that require the most healing.
The health benefits of ginger root have been touted for centuries, but now we have scientific proof of its curative properties. A few slices of raw ginger root in boiling water may help soothe a cough or sore throat. Research suggests that it can also ward off the feelings of nausea that so often accompany influenza. For example, one study found that just 1 gram of ginger can “alleviate clinical nausea of diverse causes.”
Honey has a variety of antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Drinking honey in tea with lemon can ease sore throat pain. Research suggests that honey is an effective cough suppressant, too. In one study, researchers found that giving children 10 grams of honey at bedtime reduced the severity of their cough symptoms. The children reportedly slept more soundly, which also helps reduce cold symptoms.
Garlic contains the compound allicin, which may have antimicrobial properties. Adding a garlic supplement to your diet might reduce the severity of cold symptoms. According to some research, it might even help you avoid getting sick in the first place.
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 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 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 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 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. Getting enough vitamin C can relieve upper respiratory tract infections and other illnesses.
Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria and yeast that are found in your body, some foods, and supplements. They can help keep your gut and immune system healthy, and research indicates that probiotics may 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.
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. 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.
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 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.
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