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Natural Cold Remedies

Published: February 7, 2013

Echinacea

Sidestep colds and dodge potential drug side effects with science-based therapies that don’t require a prescription.

  • Daily doses of Echinacea (derived from the purple coneflower family) taken over four months reduced the incidence of colds and slashed duration of the illness by 26 percent, according to recent research published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
  • Saltwater gargle (¼ to ½ teaspoon dissolved in 8 ounces of water) relieves sore throats, and OTC saline nasal drops and sprays combat congestion, say Mayo Clinic physicians.
  • Meditate or exercise, take your pick: In a 2012 University of Wisconsin study, people participating in an eight-week training program for mindfulness meditation—or one for moderate intensity sustained exercise—came down with significantly fewer colds and missed less work than participants in the control group.
  • Ginger root contains virus-fighting compounds, according to a Johns Hopkins University study. Steeping two teaspoons shredded ginger root in a cup of hot water or sparkling water soothes sore throat and provides extra fluids that are low in sugar.
  • Eucalyptus oil inactivated viruses in a test tube by 96 percent, found a 2009 study by the University of Heidelberg in Germany. To relieve coughs and congestion: Add 4 drops of oil to a basin filled with boiling water, make a tent with a towel over your head, and inhale the steam for five minutes.
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