When you have a cold, it's only possible to think about two things: how bad you feel, and how soon you'll get better. And really, with all the sneezing, coughing, and congestion going on, how could you possibly focus on anything else? It happens often enough to make you look for
effective cold remedies, just to find some relief.
It's important to keep in mind, though, that "because colds are viruses, they cannot be treated with antibiotics," Dr. Christopher Dietz, DO, of
MedExpress Urgent Care, tells Bustle. Typically, colds last about two weeks, he says, after peaking in the first few days. But you can help your body heal along the way with old-fashioned rest and hydration.
You can also take over-the-counter medications to help ease aches and reduce fever. "It’s also not a bad idea to keep a saline spray or nasal rinse nearby to help with sinus pressure and congestion," Dr. Dietz says. "If you have a sore throat, consider gargling warm salt water."
After doing the basics, you may feel a little bit better. But there are also a few "weirder" cold remedies you might want to add into the mix. These include little tricks to
boost your immune system, as well as things that can help your body fight off the infection. Read on below for a few interesting cold remedies, that experts say may help provide relief.
To get over a cold, it can help to do things to boost your immune system, so your body can fight the infection. And one interesting way to do that is through acupuncture, which is the process of placing tiny needles in
strategic points of the body.
When you receive acupuncture, "the body thinks it's been injured and actually increases the production of white blood cells," licensed acupuncturist
Kerry Boyle, L.Ac, tells Bustle. "This is great for immunity and reduces the amount of time a person deals with cold symptoms."
And depending on where the acupuncturist places the needles, it can even ease specific symptoms. As Boyle says, "We have points for sinusitis, headaches, sneezing, chills, and fevers."
If you feel a cold coming on, you can try to "sweat it out" by covering yourself in multiple layers — a warm sweater, a blanket, thick socks, etc. — drinking hot liquids, and eating spicy foods,
Dr. Tom Ingegno, doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, tells Bustle.
"This works because every living thing, including bacteria and viruses, live at their upper temperature threshold," he says. "[With] a cold, the fever is the body's response to an infection. At a higher temperature the bacteria and viruses have a hard time functioning, allowing the immune system to fight the infection."
When you make yourself warm on purpose, you are artificially increasing your body temperature, he says, which makes it harder for pathogens to get a foothold. Just don't overdo it.
You might also want to increase your intake of garlic since it "stimulates the multiplication of white cells, natural killer cells, and increases antibody production,"
Dr. Elizabeth Trattner tells Bustle. And it contains powerful antioxidant properties.
Look for whole cloves of garlic and crush it up in your food every day, Dr. Trattner says. While you may not be cured instantly, this will definitely help boost your body's immune system, and get you heading in the right direction.
Onions are quite similar to garlic in that they also have powerful antimicrobial properties. "It’s worth noting, of course, that garlic and onions are not cures for colds and flu — but they do have a variety of health benefits and can help boost the immune system and can possibly alleviate symptoms if you do get sick," Dr. Dietz says.
If you're struggling with a cold, grab some ginger and add it to your food, or drink it as a tea. It's antimicrobial, Dr. Trattner says, and it also contains anti-inflammatory properties. This can help eliminate congestion, inhibit the production of cytokines — which can cause pain and swelling — and even help relieve chills from a fever.
As soon as you start sneezing and sniffling, go ahead and take vitamin C and zinc,
Dr. Will Cole, a functional medicine practitioner, tells Bustle. Studies have shown that vitamin C is an effective immune booster, and that it reduces cold symptoms. And when taken in combination with zinc, Dr. Cole says, you'll be increasing white blood cells to fight off the infection, and possibly even shortening the length of your cold.
If you're all stuffed up, turn on a humidifier ASAP, and try to get some rest. "It adds moisture to the air, which reduces congestion and soothes your throat and nasal passages,"
health expert Lisa Richards, tells Bustle. Place one next to your bed, and you may find that you're able to sleep (and breathe) a lot easier.
Dr. Ingegno points to the old saying: "Do nothing and a cold will last a whole week, treat it and it will only last seven days." Meaning there's really no surefire way to cure a cold, and sometimes it'll take a full two weeks to truly go away.
But you can get well again, right on schedule, by giving your body what it needs to fight off the virus. "The best way to reduce the length of a cold is to keep your immune system working at its best" he says. "Stress reduction, healthy foods, and [self-care] can keep you from falling ill," so you'll be less likely to be taken down by one in the first place.