Do you catch a cold around the same time every year?
We’re exposed to cold viruses all year. If you’re cold-free during the summer, what if you could avoid a cold all year?
Contact with a cold virus doesn’t mean you’ll get a cold. It depends on your immune system.
In this article, you’ll learn how to get rid of a cold fast and prevent the next one. But can you get rid of a cold overnight?
I haven’t had a cold lasting longer than 24 hours since using these 25 cold remedies. Worst case scenario, you will have the world’s shortest cold.
What is a Cold?
The common cold is (1) a viral infection of your upper respiratory tract (nose and throat). Many types of viruses cause a cold that lasts about a week to 10 days.
Children, especially those under six, are at the greatest risk of developing a cold. On average, adults have about two to three colds a year. Symptoms generally last about seven to ten days.
What Causes the Common Cold?
Although there are many cold viruses, rhinovirus is (1) the most common. Cold viruses, which travel through water droplets in the air, are spread by someone sneezing, coughing, and even talking.
Cold viruses can enter your body through your mouth, nose, and eyes. They also spread through contact with an infected person or contaminated objects such as doorknobs, phones, keyboards, magazines, or toys. They enter your body when you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after coming into contact with it.
Coming into contact with a cold virus does not guarantee infection. More importantly, viruses must overpower your immune system. You can never prevent coming into contact with a cold virus altogether. You can, however, boost your immune system to prevent a cold or shorten its duration.
Cold symptoms vary from person to person, but signs and symptoms generally include:(1)
- A sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Minor body aches or a mild headache
- Low-grade fever
- Fatigue or feeling sick
Cold symptoms generally appear within one to three days after infection from a cold-causing virus.
Cold Vs. Flu Symptoms
Similar: Both cold and flu symptoms generally include a cough, chest pain, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose.
Different: Unlike a cold, flu symptoms generally include aches and pains, fatigue and weakness, headache, vomiting or diarrhea, and a fever. Unlike a cold, sneezing is not usually a symptom of the flu.
Duration: Cold symptoms occur gradually and last between 7 to 10 days. Conversely, flu symptoms occur abruptly and last between 1 and 2 weeks.
Cold Vs. Allergies Symptoms
Similar: Cold and allergy symptoms generally include sneezing, chest pain, and a runny or stuffy nose.
Different: Unlike allergies, cold symptoms generally include a cough, chest pain, and a sore throat. Further, allergy symptoms usually include itchy eyes.
Duration: Cold symptoms occur gradually and generally last 7 to 10 days. Conversely, allergy symptoms come about abruptly and last between the duration of the exposure to allergens.
How to Prevent a Cold
There are two main ways to prevent a cold. First, avoid coming into contact with a cold virus. Second, support your immune system.
Avoid contact with a cold virus.
- Wash your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water throughout the day, before eating, and after being out in public.
- Understand that a cold is a virus. The common cold consists of many types of viruses, so there’s no simple solution to killing the pathogen. Therefore, antibiotics are ineffective at killing cold viruses.
- Use tissues. Sneeze and cough into tissues, immediately throw them out, and wash your hands.
- Keep your hands off your face. Don’t touch your face. Cold viruses enter through your mouth, nose, and eyes.
- Don’t share. Don’t share utensils, cups/glasses, or personal products with others.
- Avoid colds. Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold. Even close encounters with someone with a cold have a psychological effect.
25 Natural Cold Remedies
Avoiding contact with cold viruses is unreasonable. No matter what you do, you’re surrounded by pathogens. It’s better to focus on a strong immune system that can protect you from whatever you encounter.
There’s no cure for the common cold. Cold symptoms are your body’s way of protecting you from infection. In a way, the cure for the common cold is the common cold.
Your focus should be on supporting your immune system because covering up symptoms can extend your cold.
1. Stay Hydrated
Your first immune defense is (2) the mucous membranes lining your upper respiratory tract. These membranes work best when they are moist.
Drink plenty of water and use steam to stay hydrated internally and externally. Drink vegetable juices, but avoid fruit juices because of their concentrated sugar.
Generally, you should drink one ounce of water for every pound of body weight. Drink water consistently throughout the day to keep your throat from drying.
Avoid alcohol, coffee, and caffeinated drinks, because these beverages dehydrate you. The only exception may be green tea, which we will cover soon.
How Much Water Should I Drink a Day in Ounces?
2. Use a Humidifier
Humidifiers help moisturize the air and make it easier to breathe, which can reduce symptoms associated with colds, such as a blocked or runny nose and coughing. (36, 37) This can make it easier for the body to fight a cold virus and may help relieve some symptoms. (36, 37)
A vaporizer or humidifier also helps your upper respiratory tract stay moist.
Most often, you wake up with a cold. If you mustn’t get sick, or you’ve been around the cold virus, you may want to use a humidifier at night.
3. Cut Out Sugar
When you have a cold or want to prevent one, reduce your sugar intake. Sugar from any source, including fruit, feeds pathogens making it harder for your immune system to fight off infection.
Starve cold viruses by avoiding processed, packaged, or sweetened food and eating more vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables boost your immune system. Read more about this later.
Keep the sugar to a minimum for as long as you want to get over it or avoid a cold. Natural stevia is a good natural sweetener to use instead.
4. Sip Warm Liquids
Why is chicken soup used for colds? The heat, the liquid, and the antibiotic activity of added garlic all help ease cold symptoms and support the immune system.
Sipping warm liquids can also help relieve a cold by loosening congestion and providing hydration. Warm liquids, such as tea or soup, can relieve sore throats and may even boost the immune system. (35) If you’re vegan, you can still get the cold-fighting benefits of hot soup with fresh garlic.
5. Eat Garlic for Colds
Garlic has been used as an herbal medicine for centuries. Raw garlic is a powerful antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic, and antifungal, which supports your immune system against pathogens.
The pungent organic compound allicin, produced from alliinase when garlic is crushed, is (3) a powerful antioxidant.
When allicin decomposes, it produces an acid that rapidly neutralizes free radicals. Because the reaction happens instantly, eating fresh garlic is one of the fastest ways to combat a cold.
6. Add Ginger for Colds
Ginger is another powerful antiviral, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory.
One of the ingredients of ginger is sesquiterpenes, which attack (4) the rhinovirus, the most common cold virus that attacks the sinuses. Ginger is also useful for relieving sore throats, headaches, and aches.
Ginger is best eaten raw, but it’s easier to use in a tea, powder, or capsule form.
7. Take Probiotics and Prebiotics for Colds
Can probiotics prevent a cold if most of your immune system is in your gut?
A study of 272 participants found that those taking probiotic strains Lactobacillus and Lactobacillus paracasei had (5) significantly fewer colds and symptoms.
A more recent review of the studies on probiotics reveals (6) that the evidence is still too weak to recommend probiotics for preventing upper respiratory infections.
Further, the probiotics you find in the store may not even be (7) alive when you buy them, or they may not survive their journey down the large intestine. Therefore, it’s more important to feed the good bacteria you already have by eating prebiotics. Prebiotics are the fiber found in plants.
Raw fruits and vegetables are covered (8) with abundant lactic bacteria, some of which are found in probiotics. Thus eating fruits and vegetables can give you both the prebiotics and probiotics you need to fight a cold.
8. Stay Positive to Prevent a Cold
Can positive emotions help you prevent a cold better than negative emotions?
In one study, 334 healthy volunteers were assessed for how happy and relaxed they were or how anxious, hostile or depressed they were. Then they were given cold rhinoviruses to test who would be more likely to catch a cold.
Exposure to a virus doesn’t guarantee to get sick because of your immune system. In this study, the immune systems of a third of the negative emotions group failed to fight off (9) the virus, and they developed a cold.
Only about one in five positive groups came down with a cold. Was it because they slept better, exercised, or had less stress?
Even after controlling for healthy practices and stress levels, the positive group had stronger immune systems.
The same test was repeated with the flu viruses; those with positive emotions had a lower risk of catching the flu. We can’t control whether we come into contact with a virus but by focusing on the positive, we have a better chance of preventing a cold (or the flu).
9. Use Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil can open (2) your sinuses and loosen the congestion of a chest cold. You can use eucalyptus oil in a defuser, rub eucalyptus oil on your chest, or combine the benefits of eucalyptus oil with a warm bath or shower.
10. Add Cayenne Pepper
Add cayenne pepper, hot peppers, ginger, or curry powder to your food to quickly clear your sinuses.
11. Try Fenugreek
Fenugreek has many health benefits. One of them is its ability to decrease mucus. Add fenugreek to clear your upper respiratory tract when you feel stuffed.
12. Add Turmeric for Colds
Turmeric is another powerful anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-oxidant. Fortunately, turmeric goes well with almost every dish.
13. Vitamin C For Colds
One study of over 11,000 participants found that supplementing with vitamin C does not reduce (10) the risk of catching a cold in the general population. But Vitamin C supplementation reduces the cold duration and is useful for those who experience extreme exercise.
Vitamin C supplementation has some benefits, but what are the risks?
Studies show that vitamin C supplements double (11) the risk of kidney stones in men. Men who take 1,000 milligrams a day of vitamin C may increase their chance of getting a kidney stone (12) from a 1 in 600 chance to a 1 in 300 chance.
Vitamin C supplementation doesn’t appear to increase the risk for women significantly.
It would be best to balance the risk and benefits of vitamin C supplements.
Your safest option is to get your vitamin C from plant sources, where it’s in the proper ratio with other nutrients. All the vitamins, phytochemicals, and hormones work in synergy. Isolated nutrients in most supplements aren’t useful to your body as you can not absorb them.
Amla Berries are one of the best natural sources of vitamin C. And amla berries have over 200 times the amount of antioxidants as blueberries!
14. Supplement With Vitamin D
The best time to get sunlight is around noon. We only get enough vitamin D from sunlight when it’s high enough in the sky.
If your shadow is longer than you, you’re not getting vitamin D. Depending on where you live. The sun will not be high enough in the sky, even at noon, from late fall to early spring. Therefore, vitamin D supplementation is necessary for almost everyone.
Researchers from Queen Mary University in London found that vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 12 percent reduction (13) in the chances of developing a cold.
But those with the lowest vitamin D levels which then supplemented regularly had half the colds and the flu compared to those with low vitamin D levels who didn’t supplement.
Dr. Weil recommends supplementing (14) with 2000 IU of vitamin D daily to avoid deficiency. Because during the summer, your body can generate between 10,000 IU and 20,000 IU per hour without harmful effects. And supplementing up to 10,000 IU every day appears to be safe.
15. Get Quality Sleep
Your sleep quality dramatically affects how well your immune system fights infection.
In one study, researchers dripped the cold viruses into the nostrils of 153 volunteers. Those getting enough sleep were three to five times more likely to prevent (15) a cold.
Sleep is when your body heals. Your body releases healing hormones mostly between 10 PM and 2 AM. Get to sleep before 10 PM for the best cold prevention.
Make sure to read my post on how to fall asleep instantly.
16. Take a Hot Cold Hot Shower
Changing from hot to cold to hot water helps your body heal. Blood flows toward your internal organs when your body experiences a cold environment. Conversely, when your body is exposed to heat, blood flows toward your skin.
Alternating between hot and cold stimulates circulation, improving waste removal and increasing nutrient transportation.
Related: 9 Cold Shower Benefits Worth Freezing For
17. Gargle With Salt Water
Gargling with salt water is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to relieve a sore throat.
To gargle, Dr. Michael Klaper recommends you take a glass of warm water; add a pinch of salt. “…Hold the glass of salt water in your hand, open your mouth, [and] take a deep breath.
Tilt your head back, slide a generous mouthful to the back of your throat, and gently breathe out through the water with your mouth still open.
Continue until the end of the breath, and then [spit it out] into the sink. Repeat until the full glass of salt water is used.”
A study of nearly 20,000 preschoolers found that gargling for 20 days lowered (16) the odds of having a cold to about a third. Green tea may be more effective than salt water. Learn more next.
18. Drink Green Tea For a Cold
Drinking green tea boosts (17) your immune system by enhancing the generation and activity of gamma delta T cells, a type of immune cell that acts as “a first-line defense against infection.”
Participants who drank six cups of green tea daily had up to a 15-fold increase in infection-fighting interferon-gamma production in one week. Conversely, coffee drinking had no effect. Why is green tea effective against infections?
Cancer cells and pathogens share (18) a similar molecular pattern with “edible plant products, such as tea, apples, mushrooms, and wine.” Eating plant foods help your immune cells stay alert and support your gamma delta T cells “that can provide natural resistance to microbial infections, and perhaps tumors.”
Gargling Green Tea
In a study of nursing home residents, gargling with green tea dropped (19) the risk of influenza infection seven or eightfold, compared to gargling with water.
Conversely, a study of high school students didn’t find (20) a significant difference in immune function between gargling with green tea or water.
It’s worth trying this method and seeing how it works for you.
19. Eat Cruciferous Vegetables for Colds
The epithelium of your intestinal tract, which spans thousands of square feet, is (21) your first line of defense against viruses and other pathogens.
All that separates you from the outside world is a single layer of cells, about the thickness of a sheet of paper. Why is this layer so thin? Because you need to absorb fluids and nutrients from your diet.
Intraepithelial lymphocytes condition and repair this thin layer, making (22) a frontline defense against pathogens.
These vital cells are covered (23) with aryl hydrocarbon (Ah) receptors which act as a lock that requires a key to activate them to support your immune system.
Researchers recently discovered that the key to activating them is cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables have a phytochemical converted by the stomach acid into the key that fits into the Ah receptor locks, activating your Intraepithelial lymphocytes.
Why are cruciferous vegetables necessary for your immune function?
The human body is intelligent, whereby linking (24) heightened intestinal immune activation to eating provides immunity when needed most. Additionally, energy is conserved during food scarcity because much energy is needed for intestinal immune activation.
Remember to activate your intestinal immune function with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, arugula, or cabbage when preventing or recovering from a cold.
Learn more about how and why eating cruciferous vegetables helps fight off pathogens in this short video from nutritionfacts.org.
20. Embrace a Mild Fever
A fever is your body’s natural defense against infection. The increase of 1 to 4°C in core body temperature during a fever is (25) associated with improved survival and fighting off infections.
For example, antipyretic drugs to reduce a fever correlates with a 5% increase in the death rate of people infected with the influenza virus.
A mild fever promotes (26) the generation and differentiation of a kind of lymphocyte, “CD8+cytotoxic T-call”, capable of killing virus-infected cells and tumor cells.
How to Protect Your Brain From a Fever
Your brain has (27) unique cooling mechanisms that keep your brain around the same temperature, no matter the temperature outside.
When you have a fever, your internal thermostat is raised to fight infection, increasing your brain tissue temperature. Meanwhile, your brain releases (28) heat shock proteins that prevent and repair protein damage. Sulforaphane, the active ingredient in cruciferous vegetables, activates these heat shock proteins.
Sulforaphane also initiates (29) Nrf2, which is “considered to be a master regulator of” your body’s response to environmental stressors.
Nrf2 triggers our “antioxidant response elements,” activating cell-protective genes that neutralize and detoxify free radicals and initiate protein and DNA repair.
Sulforaphane unlocks your immune system, activates shock proteins, handles stress, and fights free radicals. Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables to prevent and combat a cold, support your fever, and relieve stress. Stress is a significant factor in almost every disease.
Teas made from elderflower, linden, or yarrow reduce fever naturally.
Further Reading: What Is Normal Body Temperature?
21. Eat Kiwis for a Shorter Cold
Researchers in New Zealand studied the effectiveness of gold kiwifruit in reducing the severity and duration of cold symptoms.
A few dozen elderly individuals were randomized into one of two groups. One group consumed two bananas daily for a month; the other ate kiwifruit. The following month the banana group ate kiwis, and the kiwi group ate bananas.
There was no reduction in overall cold incidence in the banana group. But those that got sick in the kiwi group had significantly reduced (30) the severity and duration of cold symptoms.
For instance, the kiwi group suffered an average of two days compared to the banana group, which suffered for five days! Taking three days off your cold is worth giving kiwis a try.
Young children average (31) twice as many colds as adults, four to six per year.
In another study, 66 preschoolers were randomized into the same kiwi and banana-eating groups. The kiwi eating group had less severe symptoms and almost a 50% reduction in the chance of catching a cold or flu!
Children not allergic to kiwis may want to try them more often.
22. Try Nutritional Yeast for Immune Function
Beta-glucan fiber, found in baker’s, brewer’s, and nutritional yeast, can support (32) your body’s defense against pathogens.
In a study of 162 adults, beta-glucan reduced the incidence of common cold infections by 25 in those who ate about one spoonful a day. Even half a spoonful of nutritional yeast dropped (33) the common cold occurrence.
Unlike antibiotics and antivirals, which kill pathogens directly, yeast compounds appear to activate (34) your immune defenses. Therefore they lack the same side effects as antibiotics and antivirals.
It’s theorized that nutritional yeast stimulates your immune system because your body recognizes it as foreign. If nutritional yeast is classified as an invader, does this cause an inflammatory response? No.
Nutritional yeast has an anti-inflammatory effect. It not only boosts immune function but t also suppresses the inflammatory component.
Why do infections cause inflammation? When you have a cold, your immune system destroys viruses.
23. Try Native American Cold Remedies
Native Americans chewed osha root to fight a cold. And it turns out that osha root supports (2) your immune system.
Other natural cold remedies included echinacea, yerba santa, and the wild indigo flower. “Different cultures have used a variety of remedies through the years,” explained Dr. Hardy, “From Native American Indians, for instance, we learned to use wild indigo, which has antiseptic benefits and is valuable in treating upper respiratory tract infections.”
24. Use Lemon Balm For Colds
Lemon balm has been used as a herbal remedy to help relieve cold symptoms. According to studies, lemon balm can reduce fever and other symptoms of a cold. (38, 39) It is believed to possess antiviral activity and can be taken in tea or capsule form. (38, 39)
The leaves and stems of lemon balm have (2) antiviral properties. Similar alternatives are St. John’s wart and licorice root, one of China’s most prescribed herbs.
25. Exercise for Colds
Be active every day. For the best results, exercise outside in the sun and fresh air. Regular exercise improves circulation, supports your immune system, and helps you get better quality sleep.
If you have cold symptoms, you should avoid intense exercise. Exercise creates free radicals, depletes your antioxidant reserves, and weakens your immune system. Your body will adapt and become better at fighting free radicals over time. If you’re fighting an infection, your body needs all its antioxidant reserves.
Walking to Lose Weight: Calories Burned Walking Chart
How to Get Rid of a Cold Overnight Without Medicine
Drink plenty of water during the day, Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, Take a warm bath, Shower, Use a humidifier, Gargle with salt water or green tea, Avoid sugar Go to bed early, and get 8 hours of deep sleep. Stay positive. Your viral infection may not go away overnight. Still, these tips you can do at home will help you feel better in the morning.
How Long Does a Cold Last?
Generally, a cold lasts between 7 to 10 days. A cold can be as brief as a couple of days or as long as two weeks. Cold symptoms start about 2 to 3 days after contracting a cold virus. You’re the most contagious during a cold’s first 3 or 4 days. Still, you can be contagious for up to three weeks.
How long am I contagious with a cold?
Generally, you’re contagious about a day before cold symptoms develop. You’re the most contagious during the first 3 or 4 days of a cold, but you can be contagious for up to three weeks.
Is a hot bath good for a cold?
A fever is one of your body’s natural defenses to the common cold and flu. A warm bath can help boost your immune system by inducing a slight fever.
Be Cautious With Cold Remedies
Even natural herbs or remedies can interact with your medications. Therefore, consult your doctor first and use extra caution if you have medical conditions, you’re nursing, pregnant, or for children.
“The first caution I give people is to get a good diagnosis,” warns Dr. Hardy. “If your cold is not acting like a normal cold or if it has lasted more than a short amount of time, go see your doctor to make sure you don’t have a more serious condition, such as pneumonia.”
- No matter how meticulous you are, you can never completely avoid cold viruses. You can, however, support your immune system.
- The best cure for the common cold is the best way to prevent a cold.
- If you follow these natural remedies, it’s reasonable to get rid of a cold quickly, within a day or two, at least the symptoms.
- Your colds will be quick and infrequent if you support your immune system daily with healthy practices.
- What are your favorite home remedies for a cold? Leave them in the comments, and I will research them.
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