Natural cold remedies
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A viral illness of the nose and throat (upper respiratory tract), the common cold frequently results in inflammation in these regions. There are numerous viruses that can cause the symptoms we associate with a cold, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), parainfluenza, some of the now-famous coronaviruses (but not the COVID-19 variants), and rhinoviruses (which account for roughly 40% of all colds).
Sneezing, a scratchy, tickly throat, watery eyes, a low-grade fever, and a stuffy, runny nose are all signs of a cold (“May cleanliness/purity be bestowed upon you!” — Persian). Additionally, being sick frequently prevents people from going to work or school and from participating in social activities. One benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic is a greater understanding of how disruptive a cold or other respiratory illness can be. As a result, it is now much more socially acceptable to stay home while experiencing symptoms in order to recover more quickly and prevent spreading the sickness to others.
How to Get Rid of a Cold
Many people visit their doctor for a severe cold that doesn’t go away. Additionally, there are situations when conventional medicine is the best option, particularly if the sickness persists for a long time and worsens over time. The issue is that occasionally, physicians will recommend antibiotics to treat the disease without first attempting to identify the underlying reason. Antibiotics may be efficient against bacteria, but they have no effect on viruses.
Antibiotic overprescription isn’t harmless; it’s not merely a case of the drug not working. Drug-resistant superbugs have developed as a result of the overuse and abuse of medicines throughout time, making many conventional antibiotics all but ineffective. Additionally, taking antibiotics might harm your immune system and digestion by eradicating a large portion of the beneficial bacteria in your microbiome. What is the solution if antibiotics are not it? Pharmacy shelves are stocked with entire aisles of medications that claim to lessen the discomfort of having a cold. Some medications are used as preventative measures, while others are used to lessen the discomfort’s length.
Even though they can occasionally be helpful, prescription meds and over-the-counter medicines can potentially have negative or dangerous side effects. Oxymetazoline hydrochloride, one of the most popular sinus medications (brand names include Afrin, Dristan, and Sinex), has been linked to the side effects of increased nasal discharge, dryness within the nose, burning or stinging in the nose, headaches, nervousness, dizziness, headache, nausea, trouble sleeping, and — wait for it — sneezing. Flu And Cold Medicine (DM) can bring side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, upset stomach, nausea, and nervousness — none of which sound like fun to me.
Using natural cold remedies
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It makes sense that more and more individuals are using natural therapies to maintain their health or get better. Even while there isn’t a lot of scientific data to back up some natural therapies, that doesn’t imply they don’t work. Plants do not have the financial or human resources of Big Pharma to support time-consuming and expensive research projects.
However, a growing body of studies has discovered a variety of foods, spices, and herbs that may help strengthen your body’s defenses against colds. You might improve your immunity by making some lifestyle changes. So what are they? What lifestyle strategies and natural foods and ingredients can keep you from getting sick in the first place? And what non-pharmaceutical remedies are actually effective in relieving symptoms and shortening the duration of a cold if you do get infected?
How to Prevent a Cold Before It Starts
Let’s start by taking a look at five effective lifestyle practices that not only lower your risk of getting a cold but also safeguard your health in a variety of other ways.
Obtained Enough Sleep
Get at least seven hours of sleep every night as part of your regular routine. This is one of the most crucial healthy habits. Don’t feel ashamed if you require extra sleep; for adults, “normal” sleep length is between 7-9 hours each day. What we’re discovering about the advantages of sleep, such as memory consolidation, mood stabilization, and insight development, might fill many books. But one thing that has long been understood is that sleep helps your immune system, and you need enough of it regularly to provide your body with the best defense against viruses.
Lack of sleep causes inflammation in the body, which raises your risk of being sick. In a shocking 2015 study, 164 healthy adults were exposed to a rhinovirus that causes the common cold and monitored for symptoms over the following five days. More than four times as many people were more likely to contract a cold than those who slept for seven hours or more each night, as determined by a biometric sensor rather than the notoriously unreliable self-report.
When you detect risks, your body reacts by becoming stressed. Additionally, stress has a very important evolutionary function by assisting in your survival. The issue isn’t that your body prepares to flee from a predator automatically. It’s that on a regular basis, our minds can perceive threats and give orders to our bodies to defend against them.
When does the alarm go off? stress reaction A hostile email sent by a coworker? stress reaction a snarl of vehicles on the highway? Even though it would be absolutely useless from a survival sense, it’s fight or flight, baby. Large quantities of energy are wasted when one is constantly agitated, and a stressed immune system uses up a lot of that energy. Chronic stress over time can wear down your immune system, and lower immunity, and lower immunity lowers the number of natural killer cells in your body. You become more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses as a result.
Additionally, we are learning that the connection between stress and immunological dysfunction goes beyond basic fatigue. Your body reacts to infections and autoimmune threats differently during acute stress. Your body is less able to organize an efficient immune response if you’re experiencing a lot of acute stress while you have a viral illness.
While moderate exercise can improve metabolic health, brain health, mood, and self-control (as well as the effectiveness of the immune system), this does not imply that more exercise is always better. It turns out that engaging in repeated bouts of intense exercise can harm immunity. “Runner’s flu” is a term used to describe the not uncommon occurrence of a runner becoming ill a few days after a difficult and exhausting race, like a marathon.
However, a regular exercise regimen can stimulate your immune system to produce anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects throughout your body if you keep it moderate. Higher levels of habitual physical activity, defined as between 15 and 120 minutes, 1–5 times per week, were linked to a 31% lower risk of “community-acquired” infections (a fancy way of saying someone coughed on you and got you sick) and even greater protection against dying from such a disease, according to a 2021 meta-analysis.
Wash Your Hands
I’ve always known it’s a good idea to wash your hands, but I didn’t know how frequently was enough until I started doing the research for this article. Then I discovered this meta-analysis from 2021, which revealed that those who washed their hands more than ten times per day had a 41% lower risk of illness than those who did not. “The lower [the] risk of disease, the more frequently hands were washed,” the researchers said in their conclusion. However, there is currently no credible evidence indicating the ideal frequency range for hand washing in order to prevent disease. Don’t overdo it, then. I adore my new snakeskin gloves, as one such woman who did said. Oh, that’s just the new skin on my hands from 100 washes. By the way, when I say “washing,” I mean using real soap to clean your hands rather than hand sanitizers. According to a 2012 study, soap and water cleaning effectively killed rhinoviruses while using ethanol-based sanitizers failed to do so.
And take note: Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than ordinary ones, and they also have the additional drawback of changing both the skin and gut microbiomes. They may also damage the environment. Go for a thick lather when washing because soap often operates mechanically rather than chemically. Your hands are cleansed by the lather, which creates micelles, which trap and eliminate dirt, harmful chemicals, and germs. And get in the habit of not touching your eyes, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands to prevent virus transmission through mucous membranes.
Eat a Diet Rich in Whole Plant Foods
When you eat well, your immune system thrives, but when you don’t, it can become weakened. Like humans, plants must protect themselves from pathogens. And because they are immobile, they must use chemical weapons to ward off and eliminate dangerous bacteria, viruses, and fungi. You consume some of these chemicals when you eat those plants, which your body uses to activate your immune system. As a result, one of the best natural cold remedies is food.
Antioxidants are a group of plant nutrients that support the immune system and are crucial for preventing disease. Although all foods contain some antioxidants, plant-based foods are the main source because they have 64 times more antioxidants on average than foods derived from animals.
7 Herbs and Foods to Fight Colds
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A varied diet of whole plant foods is a fantastic foundation for immunological health, but some “immunity superstars” have been shown in studies to reduce the risk of infection and hasten the body’s recovery from viral illnesses. Here are seven foods you should regularly incorporate in your diet (and I may be biased, but I think they can all be pretty delicious as well).
In addition to its many other health advantages, ginger has been used for thousands of years as a cold and flu cure. Ginger has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can both stop viruses from adhering to cells and reduce the growth of viruses that do manage to get past host defenses. You can chop ginger into dishes like curries, stir-fries, and soups, as well as grate the root, steep it in hot water, and drink it as a tea.
The strong odors of garlic and other allium family vegetables serve as a defense against pests. Organosulfur compounds are the substances that cause these nauseating odors. Allicin, which research has shown to be a powerful antagonist against multidrug-resistant strains of E. coli, Candida albicans, and a number of human intestinal parasites and viruses, is the compound that gives garlic its well-known aroma.
Various viral infections can be prevented and treated with garlic as well. You can consume the cloves uncooked (bonus points for cutting them up or smashing them and then letting them sit for 10 minutes before ingesting; the damage triggers the formation of allicin). Additionally, raw or cooked garlic can be used in sauces, spreads, salad dressings, pasta dishes, and other foods.
Because honey has antibacterial properties, properly stored honey never goes bad (archeologists have found perfectly delicious 2,000-year-old honey in excavated Egyptian tombs). It is a powerful immune booster because it is also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Honey really prevents bacteria, fungus, and viruses from growing and proliferating despite its high sugar content. This might be because honey contains a lot of polyphenols and other beneficial compounds.
The primary compound in turmeric, curcumin, exhibits antiviral action against a variety of viruses, including COVID-19. Additionally, it has certain anti-fatigue qualities that may be helpful in the treatment of protracted COVID. Curcumin may also be helpful in reducing coughing and mucous membrane irritation, which are signs of the flu, the common cold, and other viruses.
When you combine black pepper and turmeric, which significantly increases curcumin bioavailability, you receive even more advantages. Turmeric can be consumed as tea, golden milk, smoothies, and spice powder for curries, stir-fries, and roasted vegetables, among other foods. It’s also a fantastic technique to give scrambled tofu taste and color.
Any warm beverage can make you feel better by hydrating you, easing the symptoms of a cold, and assisting with body temperature regulation. In the effort to maintain health in the presence of airborne infections, tea in particular (i.e., beverages prepared from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant) offers additional benefits. Black, green, and white teas are among them.
The catechins in tea, which have nothing to do with the cats that Serbian sneeze-witnessers strive to banish, may prevent the flu virus from adhering to the cells in your mucous membranes (a process known as adsorption). Additionally, the catechins improved the body’s resistance to viral infection and reduced the virus’ capacity to multiply. These catechins are beneficial even if you don’t drink tea; you can gargle with them to combat some cold viruses. Due to its high antioxidant polyphenol content, green tea has been demonstrated to aid in cold prevention. Additionally, a potent antioxidant known as EGCG is abundant in both white and green teas.
Biologically active chemicals that are resistant to viruses are abundant in mushrooms. The traditional white mushroom works well here, but there is also evidence that the so-called “medicinal” mushroom, with its assortment of polysaccharides, proteins, terpenes, melanins, and other strong components, may offer further immune support.
Regular ingestion of mushrooms can lower excessive inflammation while boosting the immune system. Beta-glucans, which are abundant in mushrooms and stimulate the white blood cells that scour the body for infections, are another beneficial component of mushrooms. And some mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light are a dietary source of vitamin D, a substance that also strengthens the immune system.
Given its numerous health advantages, elderberry is a well-named fruit: Increase your odds of surviving long enough to become an elder by consuming it liberally! There is evidence that elderberries may be among the few foods that can actually lessen the severity and duration of colds and the flu. Elderberry supplementation significantly decreased upper respiratory symptoms, according to a 2019 meta-analysis of studies involving 180 participants.
In light of the fact that elderberry stimulates the immune system without sending it into a potentially harmful “cytokine storm,” researchers have determined that it may be a safe alternative for treating viral respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. Elderberries in their raw form are extremely concentrated and actually poisonous to people. Cooked elderberries can be safely consumed as jam, syrup, cordial, various lozenges, and supplements.