Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
2 Dec

8 Common Cold Cures That Actually Seem to Work

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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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

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

    degu wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  2. 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.

    Elizabeth wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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

      Zach rusk wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • Put some fresh greens in that broth, and I think it will work even better!

      Marge wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  3. 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.

    Nocona wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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.

      JohnT wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  4. 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.

    Jann wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • So true! I can nip a cold or cold sore in the bud by going to bed as soon as a symptom comes on.

      PJ wrote on December 3rd, 2015
  5. 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.

    Wenchypoo wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  6. 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 what you’ve seen on YouTube), please don’t bother. I’ve used it off and on for close to 20 years–for myself, my kids, and my dogs. I know for a fact that the proper remedy prescribed by a competent homeopath definitely DOES work.

    Shary wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • Um, but for those of us who would like to know, what do you do Shary?

      2Rae wrote on December 2nd, 2015
      • 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 wrote on December 3rd, 2015
        • 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. The colds got shorter and milder until I stopped getting them altogether.

          Shary wrote on December 6th, 2015
    • I’m with you Shary. Homeopathy has worked wonders for me too. I hate it when the paleo/primal world knocks it.

      eatsleepswim wrote on December 2nd, 2015
      • Eatsleepswim, isn’t it amazing how close-minded people can be?

        Shary wrote on December 3rd, 2015
    • 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.

      Kelli Nolden wrote on December 2nd, 2015
      • 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 based on placebo effect in my opinion.

        jacob wrote on December 3rd, 2015
        • 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.

          John wrote on December 3rd, 2015
        • 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.

          Shary wrote on December 3rd, 2015
        • 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 base my “opinion” on millions of years’ of evolution.
          Please enlighten me and make me change my opinion.

          jacob wrote on December 3rd, 2015
  7. 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 a simple one called Gui Zhi Tang, which features cinnamon as a key ingredient.

    Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • (I should clarify that Gui Zhi Tang features cinnamon twig–whereas cinnamon bark is used for other conditions).

      Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  8. 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 the sugar, and obviously not *before* work).

    I wonder if the Vick’s VaporRub would work if sparated from the “rub” part? Use an aromatherapy diffuser and add the menthol,eucalyptus, cedar and nutmeg oils. Set the amount of oils to your personal preference, run the diffuser near your bed, get “freshly applied” Vick’s all night long.

    (Yes, I am aware of the contradiction between not using liqueurs because of the sugar but adding honey to the tea. The difference being I know what type of sugar is in the honey and how much, vs unknown – and usually too much – sugar in the liqueur.)

    James wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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!

      Jay wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  9. 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.

    Frank wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  10. Where can I get Cabbage Palm Fern supplements? Google doesn’t help. :(

    Stacie wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  11. 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.

    Jana wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  12. 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.

    Beatrix Willius wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  13. 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.

    grisly atoms wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  14. 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!)

    Coco wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  15. 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.)

    Naomi Williams wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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

      Trail runner wrote on December 2nd, 2015
      • are you using plain water? it needs some baking soda and salt to make it not hurt.

        Laura wrote on December 2nd, 2015
      • 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.

        inquisitiveone wrote on December 2nd, 2015
        • 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.

          Marge wrote on December 2nd, 2015
        • To clarify, I meant that distilled water should be used rather than tap water in making an isotonic solution.

          inquisitiveone wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • I tried the neti pot but ended up with water in my ear canal – which became infected. bummer!

      Janet wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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 run out the other nostril. Then tip your head to the other side and do the same thing. NEVER SNORT THE SOLUTION UP YOUR NOSE!! Very little should run down your throat or into your mouth, but you can spit it out if it does. Gently blow your nose when finished.

      Using a Neti pot correctly does take a bit of practice.

      Shary wrote on December 3rd, 2015
  16. 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 10 minutes to preserve the good stuff.

    Harry Mossman wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  17. 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.

    Brian wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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?)

      OctoberAmy wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  18. Outside of spicing food, what’s the best way to increase intake of turmeric?

    Mike wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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.

      Liz Mostaedi wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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).

      HealthyGuy wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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!

      Becky wrote on December 3rd, 2015
    • Drop a shake in a smoothie, I do that every day as well as a shake of cinnamon.

      Gordon wrote on December 8th, 2015
  19. Vicks smeared on the FEET–then apply socks–stops coughing! Let’s you sleep! TRUE! Try it!

    Carla ARNP wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  20. 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 you have to take your time getting in fully) make yourself sweat there for as long as you can in the hot bath. Dry off, keep warmed up and go to BED!!!
    Dry patch in you throat – a few chocolate chips melted on your tongue, well, probably that 85% chocolate will do now that I have that but I haven’t had a dry throat in several years.
    Inflamed sinus’ – take some aspirin.
    in years past I’d buy the “cold remedy” stuff but the whole jumping out of my skin side effect wasn’t worth the small bit of help they offered.

    2Rae wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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 if it is a “safety” valve, they limit the water temp as well.

      I’d keep separate units for bath and kitchen, but a sous-vide circulator might work for bathwater that never gets cold. Take it out of the water if you do anything with soap and float a layer of ping pong balls on the water for insulation

      James wrote on December 3rd, 2015
  21. 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?

    Mike wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • i’ve seen turmeric pills at health food stores.

      adina wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • Costco has them in a square bottle. They have black pepper and olive leaf extracts in them.

      Jack Lea Mason wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  22. 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.

    Rick wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  23. 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!

    adina wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  24. 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.

    Stella B wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • About once a month I clean all my keyboards, phones, door handles, etc. around the house. That makes me feel better.

      Noconago wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  25. 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 feel that funny throat feeling. For me, it really lessens severity and duration. Instead of a 5-7 day cold that makes me feel awful for the better part of a week, with Wellness Formula I just feel a little off, maybe a little sneezy, but still able to do my normal routine, for 2-3 days.

    You can get it at Whole Foods, most other natural food stores, and also Amazon.

    Michelle wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  26. 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.

    mark N wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • My goodness that is funny. Chop some garlic on a mirror…and line it up, snort! Cold gone.

      Noconago wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  27. Emily wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  28. 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!

    Diana wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  29. Since going primal, I havent gotten a cold. If this continues, I may never get to try these remedies.

    John Caton wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  30. 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 of do-no-harm medicinals, or throw tonic extracts in, even some tea, go crazy, etc. I like to add a sprinkle of sea salt too for “electrolytes”. :)

    It makes a really good base for your favorite tonic recipe, and has some likely benefits on its own. The turmeric is obvious and cayenne/black pepper are there mostly for synergy/absorption, but each has its own verified properties as mentioned above or in other articles. The ginger is lacking proof for the cold as you mentioned, but it has known synergy with many substances (especially honey), at least due to its circulatory effects, and I vaguely remember it assisting honey intestinal absorption. Ginger especially has proven analgesic, appetite, and anti-nausea effects, great for many symptoms which could interfere with sleep.

    I wonder if the lemon/lime is there for acidic extraction, some nutrients, or just flavor. :)

    The ginger can be filtered and reused for a longer decoction, or you can obviously drink it if you like eating straight ginger! May be some good fiber in there!

    Michael wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  31. 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 of time to go away. I also wish people who are sick would just stay home!

    Kathy Low wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  32. 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 mouth is the norm for me. What you believe is what you see. Oh, and what you eat.

    Bea wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  33. 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.

    Janet wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • 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?

      Gordon wrote on December 8th, 2015
  34. 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. That seems to speed the healing like nothing else!
    And sleep is king, for all stages of a cold.

    Marge wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  35. 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, until you have about emptied the bowl. Wash off your face, and start breathing again!
    If you do not lean far enough forward, the water will go down your throat, and you will feel like you are drowning! Don’t let that happen!

    Marge wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  36. 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 take vitamin C so I could actually know! (Or maybe they could just do some studies on this? C’mon…)

    Jessica wrote on December 2nd, 2015
    • i don’t know
      vitamin C never works for me :-(

      pam wrote on December 6th, 2015
  37. 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.

    Jack Lea Mason wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  38. 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.

    Loquat wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  39. 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:-)

    paul wrote on December 2nd, 2015
  40. 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.

    DaJoSee wrote on December 2nd, 2015

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