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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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December 02, 2015

8 Common Cold Cures That Actually Seem to Work

By Mark Sisson
98 Comments

Warm tea, lemon, peppers, marigold, natural treatment vs pillsWinter is nearly here, and it’s getting cold out there. We’re staying inside, cloistered together, sharing bodily fluids, and trading germs. The sun is weak, if it’s out at all, our vitamin D levels are shot, and our immune system is suffering. Many of us are traveling in planes, trains, and automobiles tightly packed with other people in the same immune predicament. It’s the perfect breeding ground for the dozens of viruses responsible for upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold and flu.

What can we do?

People have been catching the common cold for millennia. Hop in your Delorean and travel to any time or place and you’ll hear people complaining about runny noses, sore throats, and persistent coughs and see others hawking cures and treatments. Some remedies are pure hogwash. Some aren’t. Today, I’m going to look at a few of the ones that work.

For each remedy, I’ll present the available evidence and any potential or confirmed mechanisms for its effects. None are dangerous, so feel free to give them a shot. Even if they don’t eliminate your cold, you won’t be any worse off for having eating a bunch of garlic or turmeric. What I won’t do is cover the remedies without any corroborating evidence. You can type almost any food into the search bar and Google will offer “cold remedy” up as an option. So, sorry, apple cider vinegar fans. Tough luck, people who stuff onions in their socks at the first hint of a sniffle. While I support your free will, I’m unable to produce any serious evidence that your remedies work.

Let’s take a look:

Golden Milk

Ayurveda is the traditional Indian system of medicine. Although talk of chakras and levitating gurus lets rational skeptics dismiss it entirely, modern science has vindicated many Ayurvedic therapies, herbs, and concepts. Golden milk is one, and it’s really simple. Add turmeric to milk and it turns gold. In Ayurveda, golden milk is used to fight sore throats, colds, and flus. Does it work?

Well, turmeric is absolutely rife with potent pharmacological effects. It may be able to relieve cough and clear up excess mucus, at least according to animal studies.

Milk might actually be a bigger aid. Research has shown that a combo of two milk components—whey protein and lactoferrin—is able to reduce the incidence of the common cold in people. That was a concentrated supplement, however. Your standard glass of milk doesn’t have nearly as much whey or lactoferrin. Raw milk may be a better option, as it contains more lactoferrin than pasteurized milk, and raw whey provides more glutathione-boosting effects than heat-treated whey. To preserve these benefits, you’ll have to drink your golden milk unheated, of course.

Chicken Soup

People call it “Jewish penicillin,” and they’re not lying: evidence has confirmed that chicken soup eases nasal congestion, improves the function of the nasal cilia protecting us from pathogen incursions, and reduces cold symptoms.

Does it have to be chicken? As most cultures include soup in their list of effective cold remedies, I suspect it’s the goodness of the broth that’s important and any true bone broth-based soup will work.

Spicy Food

Some people, when ill, swear that spicy food helps them “sweat it out.” Maybe, but a better bet lies in its effect on our nasal cavities. Capsaicin, the chili pepper component that produces a burning sensation in mammalian tissue, reduces nasal inflammation. When your nasal blood vessels are inflamed, the walls constrict; the space gets tighter and you have trouble breathing. Studies indicate that capsaicin is effective against most symptoms of nasal congestion.

Cabbage Palm Fern (polypodium leucotomos)

Polypodium leucotomos is native to Central and South America, where it’s a folk medicine typically used to treat skin and joint disorders. Modern research indicates polypodium leucotomos may actually be “sunscreen in a pill,” as oral doses protect human skin from UV damage. That’s cool, but it’s not why we’re talking about it today.

A 2012 paper in hard-charging, elite athletes—the type of people who subject their bodies to extreme hardships and often have the perpetual upper respiratory tract infections to prove it—found that a polypodium leucotomos extract reduced the incidence of viral infections by 75%, improved symptoms, and reduced relapses. Fewer colds, milder symptoms, and, after you’ve recovered, a lower chance of getting sick again? Sounds great.

Vick’s VaporRub

You’re balking. I can tell. But many people don’t realize that Vick’s is essentially just essential oils—of menthol, of camphor, of eucalyptus, of cedar, of nutmeg. That means it’s the latest (and quite possibly greatest) in a long line of natural herbal blends used by humans to clear congestion and improve sleep. It may not “cure” a cold, but few of the remedies mentioned today do. What it does is reduce some of the symptoms and help you get out of your own way so that your immune system can do its job. If you’re not sleeping, you’re not recovering from anything.

I asked a lot of my friends of different ethnicities (Mexican, Filipino, Thai) for some leads on popular folk cold remedies they or their folks might have used, and Vick’s was the one that kept coming up. It just works.

Neti Pots

In Sanskrit, “neti” means “nasal cleansing.” The neti pot is a exactly what it sounds like. You fill a tiny plastic kettle with warm saline water, tilt your head over a sink, and pour the water into one nostril. It flows out the other one, clearing your nasal cavity and letting you breathe again. The scientific term is “nasal irrigation,” and it really does work, albeit only against one cold symptom. But let’s face it: the worst part of a bad cold is the stuffy nose that keeps you up at night, gives you dry mouth, and makes food taste bland. Neti pottin’ can fix that right up.

Also, it’s better than antibiotics in kids with rhinosinusitis. It even improves symptoms in infants with bronchiolitis, another kind of viral infection.

There were a couple close misses that may be hits in the future:

Ginger and just about anything

Traditional Chinese medicine has dozens of recipes to treat the common cold, and they all seem to involve ginger. There’s ginger with orange peel, ginger with garlic, ginger with scallions, ginger with brown sugar, ginger with brown sugar and scallions. But while ginger is a powerful food, I just couldn’t find any strong evidence that it does anything at all for upper respiratory tract infections.

Vitamin C (till you poop)

This is a tough one. Although I don’t use it for cold relief, prevention, or treatment, there’s the argument that the majority of studies purporting to show inefficacy simply aren’t dosing correctly. Pro-vitamin C researchers argue that attaining the pharmacological benefit for upper respiratory tract infections requires megadosing until the patient reaches bowel tolerance, or that point where you just gotta go.

What do I do?

The foundation for my resistance and response to upper respiratory tract infections isn’t any specific food or supplement, of course. It’s everything. It’s my sleep, my stress, my training, my play. And yes, my food. But it does happen to the best of us, and it’s the worst. We shouldn’t accept being sick. I never do.

I’ve mentioned my common cold medicine: an entire head (yes, a head) of crushed garlic lightly simmered in a mug of bone broth. If I feel a cold coming on, I’ll drop whatever I’m doing and prepare it. This is a potent combination of two of the cold-busting ingredients with the most support in the literature (broth and garlic).

If I have a sore throat, heating up and drinking a blend of lemon juice (lime works too), water, and raw honey in a 4:4:1 ratio always makes me feel better. I tend to use a wild neem honey harvested in India. It’s available at Trader Joe’s and is quite reasonable. I’m not sure if the bees feeding on neem makes a difference, though the plant does possess antiviral and immunomodulatory effects.

What are your cold and flu remedies? How do you stay healthy—or nurse yourself back to health—when a bug’s going around?

Thanks for reading, everyone.

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98 Comments on "8 Common Cold Cures That Actually Seem to Work"

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degu
degu
9 months 22 days ago

Vitamin C is great. I’m no hippie, but Vitamin C has helped me feel better many times.

Elizabeth
9 months 22 days ago

Very timely as always! I have a bit of a cold for the first time in many years. I have been enjoying broth from our pastured Thanskgiving turkey, and drinking an infusion of fresh ginger, with lemon juice squeezed in after it cools a bit. (I actually just did a post about this on my blog this morning!) And Bragg’s ACV in water, with a little raw honey, is my go-to for a sore throat.
Bottom line is, your body is telling you something. Listen to it. Slow down and rest a bit.

Zach rusk
9 months 22 days ago

That’s why when my body always tells me to eat as much delicious, creamy peanut butter I can get my hands on, I make sure I grab my spoon and listen

Marge
Marge
9 months 22 days ago

Put some fresh greens in that broth, and I think it will work even better!

Nocona
Nocona
9 months 22 days ago

What’s a cold? Seriously though, going on 5 years Primal and only one minor cold so far. I used to get 3-4 a year. I’m still amazed by that.

Vitamin C has never done a thing for me. Neti pot, turmeric and milk, and bone broth with garlic work wonders. Zinc seems to work best.

But the best of all has been Zicam. Homeopathic containing ZINC! 9 out of ten times it has worked and knocked the cold out completely after 2 days.

JohnT
JohnT
9 months 22 days ago

Can definitely back up the zinc recommendation (as zinc chelate). I’ve been taking 25mg a day, 5 days a week, for several years now. Haven’t gotten a serious cold, or any of the opportunistic follow-on infections (sinus, bronchial) since I started.

Jann
Jann
9 months 22 days ago

Sleep! If I feel a cold coming on, or just feel run down, I do everything in my power to get a couple extra hours of sleep. I really believe that many times it works. My husband works outside in the woods and claims that is why he is rarely sick. I used to think he was crazy, but now I know he was truly on to something.

PJ
PJ
9 months 21 days ago

So true! I can nip a cold or cold sore in the bud by going to bed as soon as a symptom comes on.

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
9 months 22 days ago

When suffering with a stuffed nose and/or sinus congestion, i have found relief in horseradish mustard. I use the Beer n’ Brat type, and keep it around the house always for dipping my bratwurst in.

I understand wasabi does the same thing, but the wasabi sold here in the U.S. is rather tame compared to the Japanese kind. My horseradish mustard is much stronger than U.S. wasabi.

Zach rusk
9 months 22 days ago
Shary
Shary
9 months 22 days ago
I haven’t had a cold or the flu in decades. I honestly don’t know what to attribute my good fortune to, other than I wash my hands often, although not obsessively, and I eat Paleo 80 to 90 percent of the time. I also take D3 every day (6,000 IU). The only other thing that might be a factor is a homeopathic remedy I take periodically. It’s actually for musculoskeletal issues but might also protect against viruses that cause colds and flu. For anyone about to tell me that homeopathy doesn’t work (based on what you think you know, or… Read more »
2Rae
2Rae
9 months 22 days ago

Um, but for those of us who would like to know, what do you do Shary?

Shary
Shary
9 months 21 days ago

2Rae, happy to answer your question if I can, but you might have to be a little more specific. I don’t “do” anything in particular that I can think of, other than what I mentioned.

Shary
Shary
9 months 18 days ago
After thinking about it, a couple of things I DON’T do: I never get vaccinated–for anything. Years ago a naturopath told me that vaccines suppress the immune system. I don’t know if he was right or not, but avoiding them seems to work for me. The other thing is, I didn’t take anything at all for the last few colds or flu I had, which (as I mentioned) were years ago. I used a Neti pot, took hot showers, drank hot tea with lemon, and slept a lot, but otherwise I let my immune system do it’s job without interference.… Read more »
eatsleepswim
eatsleepswim
9 months 22 days ago

I’m with you Shary. Homeopathy has worked wonders for me too. I hate it when the paleo/primal world knocks it.

Shary
Shary
9 months 21 days ago

Eatsleepswim, isn’t it amazing how close-minded people can be?

Kelli Nolden
Kelli Nolden
9 months 22 days ago

I LOVE homeopathy! I too have used it for many years. My favorite for colds is a cell salt though. Start dosing before it hits hard and you can knock it out before it sets in.

jacob
jacob
9 months 22 days ago
a 200c dilution ( common in homeopathy ) is the equivalent of diluting 1ml of original ingredient into a volume of water that is the size of the known universe. This is far far beyond the point where there is any reasonable chance of there being even a single molecule of original ingredient left. If water has that kind of memory then I hate to think of water that’s been flushed in a toilet – wouldn’t want to drink water that remembers someone’s poo. It just doesn’t make any logical sense. Paleo is based on logic and science. Homeopathy is… Read more »
John
John
9 months 21 days ago

Yes. Thanks for putting some sanity into the discussion.

But (as the above posts attest to), some (many?) people believe what they want to believe, regardless of evidence or logic.

Homeopathy (like religion) will always have adherents, even if it is based on demonstrably false presumptions or reasoning.

Shary
Shary
9 months 21 days ago

Yep, there’s always one in the crowd.

I guess you think that medicine has to be taken 3 times a day and have toxic side effects in order to work, or that allopathy is somehow better because that’s what you grew up believing. You know a bit about homeopathy; therefore you assume you know everything about it. Actually, you know very little. But that’s okay. You’re entitled to your opinion, Jacob, even if it’s wrong.

jacob
jacob
9 months 21 days ago
Shary, Water has been recycled on this planet for billions of years. I am assuming that every substance known to man has “touched” it. Which in theory means I should be able to drink tap water and get the memory of practically everything., Please explain how diluting a substance to nothing can have any effect and how water from billions of years ago would not contain the same memory? I used to be convinced that high carb low fat eating was the right way. I am the first one to admit i was wrong because I have read research and… Read more »
Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons
9 months 22 days ago
I rarely get colds…but when I feel a hint of one coming on, I get a good sweat at hot yoga, eat a meal with plenty of garlic and ginger, and take some Chinese herbs (decocted as tea is best…but the capsules also work if I’m lazy or rushed. A drop of oregano on the tongue is helpful too. So far as Chinese herbs, there are literally hundreds of formulas designed to treat various presentations of “colds.” Their effectiveness has a lot to do with taking the right one for the presenting pattern. That being said, my personal go-to is… Read more »
Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons
9 months 22 days ago

(I should clarify that Gui Zhi Tang features cinnamon twig–whereas cinnamon bark is used for other conditions).

James
James
9 months 22 days ago
The best I’ve found for prevention is eating low carb/paleo. I get to watch everybody catch “what’s going around” and being miserable for a week (or two) while I don’t get anything or feel minor discomfort for a day at most. While it would be nice if people who have “got it” would stay home and not spread it, that seldom works (happens?) in the real world. Once it starts appearing in coworkers I take a few extra vitamin C. Extra lemon juice, honey, and a shot of spiced rum (can be any liquor I presume, not liqueur due to… Read more »
Jay
Jay
9 months 22 days ago

I agree- I noticed I got a disproportionate number of colds a day or two after big sugar binges. Of course it could also be that an impending cold causes major sugar cravings, but I don’t think so. And then it turns out that blood glucose interferes with (competes with) your white blood cells’ ability to utilize vitamin C to do their work. So I suspected sugar was immuno-suppressive before confirming it years later. I’m sure a non-sugar based diet helps!

Frank
Frank
9 months 22 days ago

Getting back to the Vapor Rub, for some stupid reason putting it on my kids feet is superior to their chests. Dont know why, dont care why, just remember the socks afterward.

Also, my wife swears by a gargle with a good single malt as well.

Stacie
Stacie
9 months 22 days ago

Where can I get Cabbage Palm Fern supplements? Google doesn’t help. 🙁

Jana
Jana
9 months 22 days ago

I haven’t had a cold or flu since going primal 14 months ago. But if I do, I like the garlic/bone broth suggestion and have some homemade in my freezer. I also like the lemon, water and honey and have tried that in the past with success.

Beatrix Willius
Beatrix Willius
9 months 22 days ago

Before going primal I had a cold at least twice a year. Someone near to me had a cold and then I got it, too. This week the sister has a cold and I have nothing at all.

grisly atoms
grisly atoms
9 months 22 days ago

I have had great success with cold-eeze. The zinc seems to work as long as I don’t put it too far up my nose, because then I just sneeze it out.

Coco
Coco
9 months 22 days ago

I think you converted me to Vicks Vapour Rub. My biggest problem when I have a cold is that I can’t sleep. I sleep maybe 2 hours a night for like 3 nights, it’s not great for recovery! Thanks for the tip! (I still cross my finger that I won’t catch any viruses!)

Carla ARNP
Carla ARNP
9 months 22 days ago

Vicks smeared on the FEET–then apply socks–stops coughing! Let’s you sleep! TRUE! Try it!

Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/8-common-cold-cures-that-actually-seem-to-work/#ixzz3tC3HKxRw

Naomi Williams
Naomi Williams
9 months 22 days ago

Am I the only person in the world who gets an opposite/negative reaction to using a Neti pot? I’ve tried it twice, and it felt like I had snorted bleach; swollen and inflamed nasal cavities for a full day.

Yes, I followed directions. Once with the store-bought packet that came with the pot, and once with homemade solution (both at proper temperature.)

Trail runner
Trail runner
9 months 22 days ago

OMG Naomi I thought I was the only one this happened to! Like you I use the net pot properly but the pain is something else, even with plain room temp water. Wish I knew what was going on :p

Laura
Laura
9 months 22 days ago

are you using plain water? it needs some baking soda and salt to make it not hurt.

inquisitiveone
inquisitiveone
9 months 22 days ago

Distilled water is what should be used in a neti pot, not “plain” water. But that said, this does happen in some people. I don’t know why.

Marge
Marge
9 months 22 days ago

Absolutely NOT!
You need an isotonic saline solution, or you will irritate the heck out of your poor nose!
Isotonic means just about matching the concentration of salts in your own body fluids. The warm water should taste as much like your own tears as possible. I use about a tablespoon of salt to about a pint of water. Try it on your tongue first.

inquisitiveone
inquisitiveone
9 months 22 days ago

To clarify, I meant that distilled water should be used rather than tap water in making an isotonic solution.

Janet
9 months 22 days ago

I tried the neti pot but ended up with water in my ear canal – which became infected. bummer!

Shary
Shary
9 months 21 days ago
Naomi, you shouldn’t use water straight from the tap. Boil it first and let it cool to barely lukewarm. I use a level 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a cup of lukewarm water, to which I’ve added a tiny pinch of baking soda. @Marge, a tablespoon of salt to a pint of water will be WAY TOO SALTY for most people. The temperature of the water and the correct amount of salt are crucial. Tip your head to one side (while standing over the sink) and slowly pour the solution into one nostril WHILE BREATHING THROUGH YOUR MOUTH. Let it… Read more »
Harry Mossman
9 months 22 days ago
Great resource Since going primal, my colds are few and so mild they are barely noticeable. Even when I have one, I can still breath easily through both nostrils. The winter before going primal was one long series of colds and flues. When I (rarely) or my non-primal housemate starts to come down with a cold, I always make “Thai penicillin” – Thai chicken soup. If you go to the link in my signature, you will find my non-traditional recipe. Mark, when you make your crushed garlic in bone broth remedy, I assume that you let the garlic sit for… Read more »
Harry Mossman
9 months 22 days ago
Brian
Brian
9 months 22 days ago

I am fortunate that I rarely get sick. I found one of the keys to not getting sick is to not touch your face with your dominate hand. I am right handed so everything I do (shake hands, open doors, etc.) is with my right hand. If I have to touch my face I use my left hand only. It takes a bit to make this second nature, but it seems like I am constantly around people with colds and I rarely ever get sick.

OctoberAmy
OctoberAmy
9 months 22 days ago

Brian,
That is brilliant. What a simple thing to do and yet, I’m sure it cuts down by at least 50% (probably more) the germs that get transferred to your face from your hand. (And of course…if this is placebo, or mind-over-matter, who really cares as long as it works?)

Mike
Mike
9 months 22 days ago

Outside of spicing food, what’s the best way to increase intake of turmeric?

Liz Mostaedi
9 months 22 days ago

Hi Mike,

Here’s a recent MDA recipe for Creamy Turmeric Tea – http://www.marksdailyapple.com/creamy-turmeric-tea/#axzz3t5ED3Do0

This one is dairy free, but you could probably make it with raw milk too.

HealthyGuy
HealthyGuy
9 months 22 days ago

You may not be a “supplements” person like me, but do an internet search on “curcumin BCM-95”. It is one of my go-to supplements (BCM-95 is a processing trademark and is used by multiple companies as part of their formulation).

Becky
Becky
9 months 22 days ago

I’ve been putting a combo (remember Mark’s pairs of foods article?) of tumeric, pepper, cumin, and coriander (can be bought that way at Indian grocery stores) in my daily bone broth. (Along with fresh grated ginger) That way I get tumeric daily. I’ll sneak it into other foods when I can. The taste is mild and it hides well–more so with meat than veggies. But it stains clothes!

Gordon
Gordon
9 months 16 days ago

Drop a shake in a smoothie, I do that every day as well as a shake of cinnamon.

Carla ARNP
Carla ARNP
9 months 22 days ago

Vicks smeared on the FEET–then apply socks–stops coughing! Let’s you sleep! TRUE! Try it!

2Rae
2Rae
9 months 22 days ago
In my experience here are a few tips. Vic’s rubbed on the feet at night (then socks over top or not) will curtail the coughing of both adults and children Clogged nasal passages are cleared by steaming water with vinegar in it, if you have a small house it will work thoughout the house, otherwise in a room you are in works best. LIKE MAGIC!!!! People who are pregnant or otherwise can’t take the OTC stuff will LOVE this one. Feel a bug coming on – Take a hot bath (like the ones that make your feet bright red and… Read more »
James
James
9 months 22 days ago
I’ve used the method of getting into a normal tub of bathwater and then run pure hot at just a trickle, using my hands to circulate the water until it is as hot as I can manage. Lessens the slip-and-fall window if you’re holding at part way in vs just getting in normally. This only works though if you have independent hot water valves. The single knob that moves up for ‘on’ and left/right for temperature also works. The single knob that turns, farther for hotter water, does not work as ‘all the way’ gives water too fast. And worse… Read more »
Mike
Mike
9 months 22 days ago

Maybe I asked my question the wrong way…. Is there a way to supplement with turmeric that isn’t involved with food/drink, ie at a supplement/vitamin store?

adina
9 months 22 days ago

i’ve seen turmeric pills at health food stores.

Jack Lea Mason
Jack Lea Mason
9 months 22 days ago

Costco has them in a square bottle. They have black pepper and olive leaf extracts in them.

Rick
Rick
9 months 22 days ago

I’m reminded of the old joke, “modern science can treat a cold in seven days. Otherwise, it takes Mother Nature about a week.”
: )

But seriously, the best way to prevent catching a cold is to keep your hands outta yo face. The second best way is to avoid children. I speak from experience.

adina
9 months 22 days ago

thanks for this great resource!

i have an immune deficiency, and autoimmune paleo plus home remedies have kept me healthy for years! when i feel a cold coming on, this is my plan of action:

-vitamin c flush (i’m new to this, but it’s been working wonders! key is to take enough to make you go…)
-neti pot then immediately…
-steaming with oregano oil and/or eucalyptus
-good old salt water gargle
-love me some olba’s nasal inhaler (similar oils to vick’s vapor rub)
-adding apple cider vinegar to everything i drink
-if persistent, i’ll use a colloidal silver nasal spray

healthy winters to you all!

Stella B
Stella B
9 months 22 days ago

This article misses the most effective means of cold prevention — hand washing. Cold virus can live on dry surfaces for several days. If you touch that surface and then touch your face, you transfer the virus to your mucus membranes where it proliferates. So wash your hands! When you come home, wash. When you finish at the gym, wash. When you are ready to sit down for a meal, wash. Don’t touch your face out in public. I don’t follow any of the above suggestions and I go years between colds, just thanks to careful hand washing.

Noconago
Noconago
9 months 22 days ago

About once a month I clean all my keyboards, phones, door handles, etc. around the house. That makes me feel better.

Michelle
Michelle
9 months 22 days ago
Even though there’s no magic pill to cure a cold…I think that Source Naturals Wellness Formula is about as close to a magic cure pill as you can find. It’s truly amazing, chock full of just a lot of natural things, in high amounts, that I swear you can feel battling the cold bogies almost immediately. It’s so powerful a dosage that it actually can cause indigestion problems if not taken with a good-size meal. Works best when started at first symptoms. I like to always have it on hand so I can literally down some the very moment I… Read more »
mark N
mark N
9 months 22 days ago

Back in the day, I’m 59
I had a very bad sinus infection, very low income and averse to antibiotics. So I tried snorting garlic juice. It put me to the floor it hurt so bad,and the world smelled like an Italian restaurant for a week. However, no more sinus issues for months. Now I eat a lot of garlic, that and echinacea, seems to, at the least, lessen the severity of a cold or sinus infection.

Noconago
Noconago
9 months 22 days ago

My goodness that is funny. Chop some garlic on a mirror…and line it up, snort! Cold gone.

Emily
Emily
9 months 22 days ago
Diana
9 months 22 days ago

Thanks for this list!! My vote is for vitamin C therapy. I do it for every cold/flu, and it really works. I do 4,000 mg per hour until the bug gives up and goes away. In fact, I just used that method this past week. I also second the Vicks Vapor Rub on the feet (with double socks) at night to stop a cough. It’s wonderful!

Awesome blog, Mark – keep it up!

John Caton
9 months 22 days ago

Since going primal, I havent gotten a cold. If this continues, I may never get to try these remedies.

Michael
Michael
9 months 22 days ago
There’s one recipe I really like adapted from Stephen Buhner’s Herbal Antibiotics, an interesting read. It’s not too exotic and is very widely applicable: Take a few inches cubed ginger, puree or mash, steep in cup of boiling water with half a lime/lemon’s worth of juice, some turmeric and cayenne/black pepper. Decoct as long as you have patience for and cool enough to dissolve (without cooking) a healthy spoonful of raw honey of your favorite variety (I do local wildflower). You can dress up the decoction with your favorite spices like cinnamon, licorice, anise, whatever you like, in the spirit… Read more »
Kathy Low
Kathy Low
9 months 22 days ago
Maybe it is a Canadian thing, as the creator was in Canada, but at the first sign of a cold, usually a throat or nose “tickle” I take Cold FX. I get out of bed in the middle of the night to do this. I may still have some very mild cold symptoms, but rarely get sick. Actually I rarely get sick anyway, like so many of you, but I swear by ColdFX which I believe is some sort of ginseng extract. On those occasions when I didn’t have any handy, cold symptoms set in and took the usual length… Read more »
Bea
Bea
9 months 22 days ago
I’m thrilled to read so many others who never get sick since going primal. I have had only one cold in the past 4 years since being primal/paleo. I got sick when I fell off the primal wagon and worn myself down otherwise, I attribute my fortunate good health to my diet and my beliefs. I constantly touch my face with my hands. I don’t believe my hands have picked up a “germ” somewhere that has made it’s way into my body to create the cold/flu. I am a tactile person, so hands to face, then to eyes and the… Read more »
Janet
9 months 22 days ago

A couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in the ear does the trick. it bubbles and fizzes at first. Leave it in for 10 minutes then switch to the other side. Google it for exact instructions.

Gordon
Gordon
9 months 16 days ago

I do this exact thing for my family. It does work, I understand from some of my scientific type friends that it cannot work as the ear canal is a closed system? O well like the bumblebee, scientists say they can’t fly but if you are a bumblebee who ya gonna believe?

Marge
Marge
9 months 22 days ago
Believe it or not, when I feel the beginnings of a cold – the itch in the back of your throat, or your ears closing up, that feverish feeling – I have a glass of dry red wine, and go to bed early. That usually seems to do the trick, and the cold never actually lands! Once a cold HAS gotten you, though, my favorite cure is a simple bowl full of hot broth (REAL broth, preferably chicken, HOMEMADE ONLY – I always keep some frozen), with a clove of garlic crushed into it, and a handful of fresh greens.… Read more »
Marge
Marge
9 months 22 days ago
By the way, about these neti pots that seem to be sold everywhere for a ton of $$$… You don’t need a neti pot to rinse the nasty infected stuff out of your nose. I simply mix about a pint of warm water with about a tablespoon of salt in a bowl. Then (this is important!), lean way over a low sink, hold one side of your nose closed, and pull the water up the other nostril until it comes into your mouth a bit. Then blow it out your nose into the sink. Repeat for each nostril, taking turns,… Read more »
Jessica
9 months 22 days ago
I remember a long time ago I decided to try mega dosing vitamin C after I read about it when I had a cold, and it really did seem to help a lot. As in, my cold went away almost immediately. I’ve been mega dosing vitamin C again with this cold I just came down with on Sunday night and I seem to be managing it pretty well yet again, but I of course can’t say for sure whether or not it’s because of the vitamin C. I wish I had an alternate dimension version of myself where I didn’t… Read more »
pam
pam
9 months 18 days ago

i don’t know
vitamin C never works for me 🙁

Jack Lea Mason
Jack Lea Mason
9 months 22 days ago

My kids have colds all winter. I’m pretty sure this is because their mom sometimes puts oatmeal in their sugar in the morning. When they do I have a grapefruit for breakfast on the premise that grapefruit is in season during cold season. This seems to be preventative. I also add copious thyme and garlic to chicken bone broth this prevents head colds for me. If I get a hint of strep throat, I gargle with real fermented pickle or kraut juice. This clears it up right away.

Loquat
Loquat
9 months 22 days ago

I’ve had really good results with Airborne and its generic knockoffs since I learned about them a couple of years ago. Two fizzy tablets per day, one in the morning and one before bed, at the first sign of a cold, and it goes away without ever really getting to the point where I feel actually sick.

paul
paul
9 months 22 days ago

Stay home if you are sick! You need the rest anyways. Anyone ever heard of using oil of oregano to prevent and get over a cold or flu? Love that don’t touch your face with dominant hand idea! Washing hands often seems to help. Bone broth,rest and hydration:-)

DaJoSee
DaJoSee
9 months 22 days ago

60,000 I.U. of Vitamin D3
Will not “Cure” the Virus, but I have found that it clearly reduces the days of misery by about half.

Nwity
Nwity
9 months 22 days ago

Vitamin C is great in slow-release form. More exy but worth it. Helps me recover from coldes more quickly.

I’ve read a theory for its efficacy lies in its similar structure to glucose (in fact, other mammals can derive vitamin C from glucose but humans lost that ability). Apparently the cold germs are tricked into accepting Vitamin C in place of glucose. Same theory behind Vitamin C therapy for cancer; constant megadoses required but it starves the cancer while having no side effects on normal cells… so I read (couldn’t say for sure if it’s true).

Kathleen
Kathleen
9 months 22 days ago

60,000 I.U.s of Vit. D3??!! Sixty THOUSAND??!!

HiDee
HiDee
9 months 21 days ago

Ditto, that can’t be good.

Michelle
9 months 22 days ago

I take a steaming hot mug of water and add 1 drop each of Oregano, Lemon, Melaleuca and Peppermint essential oils. I breathe the steam through the nose and through the mouth until the steam is gone. Works like a charm every time, stops the cold in its tracks.

Joe
9 months 22 days ago

Great article Mark. My personal prevention/remedy: Living Primal!

Juli
Juli
9 months 22 days ago

For cold prevention: meditation. From summary of 2003 study: “These findings demonstrate that a short program in mindfulness meditation produces
demonstrable effects on brain and immune function. These findings suggest that meditation may change brain and immune function
in positive ways and underscore the need for additional research.”

Link to study: http://www.investigatinghealthyminds.org/ScientificPublications/2003/DavidsonAlterationsPsychosomaticMedicine.pdf

I believe this research has been replicated in the years since but I did not dig around for it.

This is enough to keep me committed to my practice regardless of the other benefits.

Becky
Becky
9 months 22 days ago
What about elderberry? That seems to be nipping our colds in the bud. Or maybe the mainly paleo diet is making the cold minor and the elderberry does nothing. But that’s not an experiment I want to test. I want to find where the plants grow wild near me and make my own syrup. Also, we take Thieves from Young Living if we’ve been around sick people or feel a slight sniffle. Seems to help, but once again we don’t know what it’d be like without it. Sounds like Thieves has a lot of the same oils as Vicks. (And… Read more »
Kim
Kim
9 months 11 days ago

Elderberry does work. I was taking that for colds and flu long before going primal and there have been some studies done on its effectiveness.

Chanteuse
Chanteuse
9 months 21 days ago
For the sore throat feeling — I’m an opera singer, and let me tell you, my colleagues have some STRANGE remedies that they swear by, but here are the things that I’ve found to work: Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat tea, or anything with licorice or marshmallow. The mucilaginous roots help to literally coat the throat and soothe irritation. Better with some raw honey after the tea has cooled enough not to kill off the active enzymes. Warm bone broth with ginger and cayenne. A serious kick of cayenne, it doesn’t feel great going down, but soothes the pain for a… Read more »
Daniel
Daniel
9 months 21 days ago
If I feel a cold coming on I take chinese herbs.. called yin chiao. Since I’ve started doing this I never get sick. If already down with a cold I’d take chuan xin lian, if flu like symptoms gan mao ling.. I was a heavy skeptic at first but after taking and symptoms abating I fast became a believer. Ever since I was a child anytime I’d get a cold I’d come down with a sinus infection that wouldn’t go away without antibiotics. The initial test for me was with chuan xin lian after a cold went into a sinus… Read more »
Kelli
Kelli
9 months 21 days ago
I always keep a couple of bottles of elderberry syrup on hand and my children, my husband and I all take it at the very first sign of any cold or flu virus. Last year, I felt flu-like symptoms coming on, took two teaspoons of elderberry syrup once every 3 or so hours and the symptoms were completely gone within about 36 hours (and they gradually and steadily dissipated within that time period, as well. In fact, I felt much better just after the first dose!). This stuff is absolutely amazing and I keep a bottle or two on hand… Read more »
Laurie
Laurie
9 months 21 days ago

Elderberry capsules. 2, twice a day at the first sign of a cold. Works every time. I get Nature’s Way capsules online at Swanson vitamins. Capsules are stronger than the syrups out there. I forget how many mg they are but I don’t think you can hurt yourself taking them 2-3x/day.

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