chicken soup
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Chicken Soup

You should have some, and not just because Mom says so. Studies shows it clears nasal passages and congestion better than other hot liquids. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect that may help your cold symptoms.

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citrus fruit slices
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You’ve heard it before: To avoid colds, get plenty of vitamin C. Truth is, it won’t keep most of us from catching one. (It may help if you’re around people who get sick often, like at a day care.) But if you get a lot of it right before you notice symptoms, it may make you feel better and help you get rid of a cold faster. Oranges, lemons, limes -- they’re all sources of vitamin C and can be tasty, too.

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foods with quercetin antioxidant
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Germ Fighters

Kale, broccoli, cranberries, green tea, red onions, blueberries: What do these have in common? All have an antioxidant called quercetin that may help you fight the common cold. The research here is pretty new, but they may be on to something.

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chinese cuisine spicy chicken
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Bring the Heat

They won't help you kick your cold, but chili peppers can clear out your nasal passages, and that can make you feel better. They have something called capsaicin, which studies show may help with your stuffy head.

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ginger tea with lemon
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A cup of fresh, hot ginger tea may seem to be just the thing you need when you’re nursing a cold. It helps lclear congestion and soothe your throat. And some studies show this spicy root may help prevent the common cold by blocking the virus.

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dairy products
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Milk, ice cream, cheese: Dairy gets a bad rap. Common wisdom says to avoid it when you're stuffy or runny because you'll make more mucus. But there’s little evidence to support this. So if you crave ice cream to soothe that sore throat, go ahead and indulge. 

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garlic cloves
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Scientists think garlic has some things in it that may fight the common cold. There is also some evidence that garlic may prevent colds, but more studies are still needed. Nevertheless, it's a good excuse to toss in a few extra cloves.

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citrus fruits
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Caffeine and Alcohol

You’re better off avoiding these. You need lots of liquids when you have a cold, but caffeine and alcohol are no-nos because they can dry you out. Of course, if you get a raging withdrawal headache without your morning coffee, by all means, have a small cup of joe. Or try a little caffeinated tea instead.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 06/12/2020 Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on June 12, 2020


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Journal of Infectious Diseases & Preventive Medicine: “Quercetin: A Promising Treatment for the Common Cold.”

Mayo Clinic: “Cold remedies: What works, what doesn't, what can't hurt,” “Common cold.”

National Center for Biotechnology Information: “Capsaicin for non-allergic rhinitis.”

National Institutes of Health: “Relationship between milk intake and mucus production in adult volunteers challenged with rhinovirus-2.”

UCLA Explore Integrative Medicine: “An Inside Scoop on the Science Behind Chicken Soup and the Common Cold.”

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson, MD on June 12, 2020

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.