Natural cold prevention and relief

Natural cold remedies have been around for centuries: we have several modern-day versions to choose from below. Don't let a cold virus knock you down this winter—follow these tips to stop a virus in its tracks.

Natural cold prevention and relief

Preventing colds

When it comes to preventing future colds, your daily habits are very important. Here’s how to keep viruses away in the first place.

  • Wash your hands: Quite literally, your odds of catching a cold are in your own hands. So get in the habit of washing your hands often, especially before every meal.
  • Eat breakfast: A study of 498 healthy individuals in Cardiff, Wales, found that those who started their day with breakfast got fewer and less severe colds than those who skipped their morning meal. Cereals, many of which are fortified with vitamins and other nutrients, and protein, which helps create antibodies that fight infections, are just two more reasons why breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
  • Think positive: Stress weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and other illnesses.
  • Make friends: At first glance, this notion may seem contradictory. After all, it would appear that the more people you hang out with, the more you'll be exposed to the viruses that cause colds. But research has shown that having a large circle of family and friends may paradoxically offer protection against colds. The reason: the more you're around those who care about you and support you, the better you're able to handle stress. And that boosts your immune system, making it tougher for cold viruses to gain a foothold.

Natural remedies

  • Vitamin C: A potent immune-booster, it may help cut your cold short and relieve symptoms. At the first sign of a cold, take 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily. Just be aware that high doses can cause diarrhea in some people.
  • Nasal zinc gluconate gel: When they first came out in the mid-1990s, zinc gluconate lozenges were touted as being able to cut a cold’s duration in half, but the results of more recent studies have been mixed. Nasal zinc gluconate gel may be a better choice because the zinc stays in the nasal passages long enough to affect the virus.
  • Echinacea: Some studies show that echinacea helps shorten a cold’s duration and eases symptoms in some people. For best results, take the herb at the first sign of symptoms.

Cold-fighting foods

  • Broccoli: A potent source of vitamin C, this vegetable can help send your cold packing faster. For an added boost, sauté broccoli with fresh ginger, which helps soothe irritating coughs.
  • Sweet potato: This vegetable is high in beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that your body converts into virus-fighting vitamin A.
  • Chili peppers: They get their heat from capsaicin, which breaks up mucus to make breathing easier. Use them in a fiery salsa.
  • Garlic: It contains allicin, which can relieve congestion by regulating mucus flow. Cook it with onions to help shrink swollen airways.
  • Grapefruit: Pink in particular is loaded with flavon­oids, which fight infections and increase immunity. Driz­zle with honey for a sore throat.
  • Horseradish: It’s the allyl isothiocyanate in it that makes your eyes water and helps to thin mucus.
  • Oysters: A great source of zinc, they're a known immune-booster that may help lessen the severity and duration of a cold.
  • Tea: All teas contain tannin flavonoids, which help to ease breathing by expanding bronchial passages. Brew your tea strong, inhale the steam while it’s hot, then drink a cup or two after it cools down a little.
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