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Home Remedies for Colds

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Cold Remedy #6: Gargle with warm salt water. Gargling can moisten a sore or scratchy throat and bring temporary relief. Try a half teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water four times daily. To reduce the tickle in your throat, try an astringent gargle -- such as tea that contains tannin -- to tighten the membranes. Or use a thick, viscous gargle made with honey, popular in folk medicine. Steep one tablespoon of raspberry leaves or lemon juice in two cups of hot water; mix with one teaspoon of honey. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before gargling.

Cold Remedy #7: Drink hot liquids. Hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, prevent dehydration, and soothe the uncomfortably inflamed membranes that line your nose and throat. If you're so congested you can't sleep at night, try a hot toddy, an age-old remedy. Make a cup of hot herbal tea. Add one teaspoon of honey and one small shot (about 1 ounce) of whiskey or bourbon if you wish. Limit yourself to one. Too much alcohol inflames those membranes and is counterproductive.

Cold Remedy #8: Take a steamy shower. Steamy showers moisturize your nasal passages and relax you. If you're dizzy from the flu, run a steamy shower while you sit on a chair nearby and take a sponge bath.

Cold Remedy #9: Try a small dab of mentholated salve under your nose to help open breathing passages and help restore the irritated skin at the base of the nose. Menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor all have mild numbing ingredients that may help relieve the pain of a nose rubbed raw.

Cold Remedy #10: Apply hot packs around your congested sinuses. You can buy reusable hot packs at a drugstore. Or make your own. Take a damp washcloth and heat it for 30 seconds in a microwave. (Test the temperature first to make sure it's right for you.)

Cold Remedy #11: Sleep with an extra pillow under your head. This will help relieve congested nasal passages. If the angle is too awkward, try placing the pillows between the mattress and the box springs to create a more gradual slope.

Cold Remedy #12: Learn about natural remedies like zinc, echinacea, and vitamin C. People looking for natural cold remedies often turn to supplements. Many of these remedies have not been shown to help and some hurt.

Zinc: While early studies showed that zinc could help fight off a cold more quickly, the latest consensus seems to be that zinc has a minimal benefit at best. According to the Food and Drug Administration, zinc nasal spray can cause permanent loss of smell.

For in-depth information, see WebMD’s article on Zinc for Colds: Lozenges & Nasal Sprays.

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