Why do we catch colds?
And why do we get them around the same time every year?
Maybe it’s less sunlight, stuffy indoor air, and expectation.
We are exposed to the cold virus all year. Luckily, coming in contact with a cold virus doesn’t mean you will get a cold. Whether or not you catch a cold depends on the health of your immune system.
Inspired by my recent cold, I researched the best remedies for how to get rid of a cold fast and for good.
In this article, I highlight 25 natural home remedies to help you not only beat your cold but help you prevent most colds altogether. You can’t guarantee you will never get a cold again, but you can keep them short and infrequent.
Continue reading to learn how you can get rid of your cold and prevent the next one. Worst case scenario, you will have the world’s shortest cold.'Coming in contact with a cold virus doesn't mean you will get a cold, it mostly depends on the health of our immune system.'
How to Get Rid of a Cold Fast
Table of Contents:
- What is a cold?
- What Causes the Common Cold?
- Cold Symptoms
- How Long Does a Cold Last?
- 25 Natural Cold Remedies
- How to get rid of a cold overnight
- Sources Cited
25 Natural Cold Remedies
- Stay Hydrated
- Use a Humidifier
- Cut Our Sugar
- Sip Warm Liquids
- Eat Garlic
- Add Ginger
- Take Probiotics and Prebiotics
- Stay Positive
- Use Essential Oils
- Add Cayenne Pepper
- Try Fenugreek
- Add Turmeric
- Eat Vitamin C Rich Foods
- Supplement With Vitamin D
- Get Quality Sleep
- Take a Hot Cold Hot Shower
- Gargle With Salt Water
- Drink Green Tea
- Eat Cruciferous Vegetables
- Embrace a Mild Fever
- Eat Kiwis
- Try Nutritional Yeast
- Try Native American Cold Remedies
- Try Lemon Balm
What is a Cold?
The common cold is (1) a viral infection of your upper respiratory tract (your nose and throat). There are many types of viruses that cause a cold which generally lasts about a week to 10 days.
Children, especially under six years old, are at the greatest risk for 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 types of cold viruses, the rhinovirus is (1) the most common. Cold viruses, which travel through water droplets in the air, spread by someone sneezing, coughing, and even talking.
Cold viruses can enter your body through your mouth, nose, and eyes. They also spread through direct 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 the 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 come about gradually and last between 7 to 10 days. Conversely, flu symptoms come about abruptly and last between 1 to 2 weeks.
Cold Vs Allergies Symptoms
Similar: Both colds and allergy symptoms generally include a 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 come about gradually and generally last between 7 to 10 days. Conversely, allergy symptoms come about abruptly and last between the duration of the exposure to allergens.
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 coming into contact with a cold virus.
You are the most contagious during the first 3 or 4 days of a cold, but you can be contagious for up to three weeks.
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 different types of viruses, so there is no simple solution to killing the pathogen. Therefore, antibiotics are ineffective at killing cold viruses.
- Use tissues. Sneeze and cough into tissues then 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 other people.
- Avoid colds. Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold. Even close encounters with someone with a cold has a psychological effect.
25 Natural Cold Remedies
Avoiding contact with cold viruses is unreasonable. No matter what you do, you are surrounded by pathogens. It is better to focus on having a strong immune system that can protect you from whatever you come in contact with.
There is 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.'Avoiding contact with cold viruses is unreasonable. No matter what you do, you are surrounded by pathogens. It is better to focus on having a strong immune system that can protect you from anything you come in contact with.'
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.Cold Remedy: Stay hydrated. Your first immune defense is the mucous membranes lining your upper respiratory tract. And this works best when they are moist. Drink plenty of water and use steam to stay hydrated internally and externally.
2. Use a Humidifier
A vaporizer or humidifier adds moisture to your home, which helps loosen congestion. It also helps your upper respiratory tract stay moist.
Most often you wake up with a cold. If it is important that you don’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 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. If you are 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 in an instant, eating fresh garlic 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 viruses that attack the sinuses. Ginger is also useful for relieving sore throats, headaches, and aches in general.
Ginger is best eaten raw, but it is easier to use in a tea, powder, or capsule form.
7. Take Probiotics and Prebiotics for Colds
If the majority of your immune system is in your gut, can taking probiotics prevent a cold?
A study of 272 participants found that those taking probiotic strains Lactobacillus and Lactobacillus paracasei had (5) significantly fewer colds and cold 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 is 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 an abundance of lactic bacteria, some of which is 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.
Being exposed to a virus doesn’t guarantee that you will get sick because of our 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 of the positive group came down with a cold. Was it because they slept better, exercised, or had less stress?
No, 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 and 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 in 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. When you are feeling stuffed add fenugreek to clear your upper respiratory tract.
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. Vitamin C supplementation, however, appears to reduce the duration of colds and is useful for those who experience extreme exercise.
Vitamin C supplementation has some benefit, 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 there chance of getting a kidney stone (12) from a 1 in 600 chance to a 1 in 300 chance.
Vitamin C supplementation does not appear to increase the risk for women significantly.
You must balance the risk and benefit of vitamin C supplements for yourself.
Your safest option is to get your vitamin C from plant sources where it is in the proper ratio with other nutrients. All the vitamins, phytochemicals, and hormones all work in synergy. Isolated nutrients found in most supplements is not useful to your body as you can not absorb it.
Amla Berries are one of the best natural sources of vitamin C. In fact, Amla berries have over 200 times the amount of antioxidants as blueberries!
The easiest way to increase the antioxidant power of any meal is to add amla berry powder. I add a scoop of Terrasoul Superfoods organic Amla Berry Powder (click here to check out the current pricing on Amazon) to just about everything I eat.'Amla Berries are one of the best natural sources of vitamin C. In fact, Amla berries have over 200 times the amount of antioxidants as blueberries!'
Wild Force Vitamin C
Wild Force Vitamin C contains the best natural sources of vitamin C in the world including gubinage (the highest source of vitamin C in the world), pine needle, acerola berry, amla berry, sea buckthorn, watercress, rose hip, guava, and lemon and orange peel pith).
14. Supplement With Vitamin D
We get vitamin D from sunlight, but only when it is high enough in the sky. The best time to get sunlight is around noon.
If your shadow is longer than you are then you are 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 who 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 at 2000 IU of vitamin D a day to avoid deficiency. Because during the summer your body can generate between 10,000 IU and 20,000 IU per hour without harmful effects. Additionally, supplementing up to 10,000 IU every day appears to be safe.
I recommend NATURELO Vitamin D – 2,500 IU for its price and quality (click here to check out the current pricing on Amazon). It is a whole food, vegan source of vitamin D3.
15. Get Quality Sleep
Your sleep quality dramatically affects how well your immune system fights infection.
In one study, researches dripped the cold viruses into the nostrils of 153 volunteers. Those who were getting enough sleep were three to five times more likely to prevent (15) a cold.
Sleep is when your body heals, and healing hormones are released 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. When your body experiences a cold environment, blood flows toward your internal organs. Conversely, when your body is exposed to heat, blood flows towards your skin.
Alternating between hot and cold stimulates your circulation thereby improving removal of wastes and increases the transportation of nutrients.
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, with your mouth still open, gently breathe out through the water. 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 per day had up to 15-fold increase in infection-fighting interferon gamma production in as little as 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.” By eating plant foods, you help your immune cells stay alert, and support your gamma delta T cells “that then 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 found (20) that there was no significant difference between gargling with green tea or water on immune function.
It is worth trying this method and seeing how it works for you. Green tea is also an effective natural mouthwash, learn more in Mitochondria is the Powerhouse of the Cell. Why?.
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. In fact, 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 and make (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.
Researches recently discovered that the key to activate them is cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables have a phytochemical that is converted by the stomach acid into the key that fits into the Ah receptor locks, thereby activating your Intraepithelial lymphocytes.
Why are cruciferous vegetables necessary for your immune function?
The human body intelligent, whereby linking (24) heightened intestinal immune activation to eating provides immunity when it is needed most. Additionally, because a great amount of energy is needed for intestinal immune activation, energy is conserved during times of food scarcity.
When preventing or recovering from a cold remember to activate your intestinal immune function with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, arugula, or cabbage.
Learn more about how and why eating cruciferous vegetables are necessary for fighting off pathogens in this short video.
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 that occurs during a fever is (25) associated with improved survival and fighting off infections.
For example, the use of antipyretic drugs to reduce a fever correlates with a 5% increase in death rate in people infected with the influenza virus.
In fact, a mild fever promotes (26) the generation and differentiation of a kind of lymphocyte, “CD8+cytotoxic T-call”, that is 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, no matter the temperature outside, keep your brain around the same temperature.
When you have a fever, your internal thermostat is raised to fight infection, which also increases 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 your stress. Stress is a significant factor in almost every disease.
Teas made from elderflower, linden or yarrow are known to reduce fever naturally.'Sulforaphane unlocks your immune system, activates shock proteins, handles stress, and fights free radicals.'
21. Eat Kiwis for a Shorter Cold
Researchers in New Zealand studied the effectiveness of gold kiwifruit at 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 a day for a month, and the other group ate kiwifruit. The next 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 who 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 not only had less severe symptoms, but they also had almost a 50% reduction in the chance of catching a cold or flu!
Children who are 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, the beta-glucan reduced incidence of the 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 is 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.
Watch Dr. Bergman describe why you feel achy and sore when you have a cold.
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
The leaves and stems of lemon balm have (2) antiviral properties. Similar alternatives are St. John’s wart and licorice root, which is one of the most prescribed herbs in China.
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, depleting your antioxidant reserves and weakening your immune system. Your body will adapt and become better at fighting free radicals overtime. If you are fighting an infection, however, your body needs all of its antioxidant reserves.
How to Get Rid of a Cold Overnight
- Drink plenty of water during the day
- Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich foods
- Take a warm or bath Shower
- Use a humidifier
- Garge 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, but these tips you can do at home will help you feel better in the morning.
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 or you are nursing or 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 be sure you don’t have a more serious condition, such as pneumonia.”
- You can never completely avoid the cold viruses, no matter how meticulous you are. You can, however, support your immune system.
- The best cure for the common cold is also the best way to prevent a cold.
- If you follow these natural remedies, it is reasonable to get rid of a cold quickly, within a day or two, at least the symptoms.
- If you support your immune system every day with healthy practices, your colds will be quick and infrequent.
- What are your favorite home remedies for a cold? Leave them in the comments, and I will research them.
'If you support your immune system every day with healthy practices your colds will be few and far between.'
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