Edited and published by Wellness Monster Dina
The common cold strikes adults an average of 2-3 times each year and claims the health of children even more often. There is no medical cure for the common cold due to viral strains evolving too rapidly to make vaccinations a possibility. Therefore, the best that can be hoped for when it comes to getting a “cold” is to simply ride it out or to relieve cold symptoms with an over-the-counter remedy. Individuals too sensitive to take OTC medicines often take natural remedies instead which this article refers to. But, with all of the natural remedies on the market touting the cure for the common cold, which one should be reached for when symptoms, such as scratchy throat, sneezing, and coughing begin? To understand the answer to this question it’s important to understand what a common cold really is and isn’t.
The common cold is actually caused by a virus. However, while just one virus can cause a cold there are over 200 viruses that can cause symptoms of a cold with each presenting common symptoms in their own unique way. For example, while one virus may present a congested nose as a first “tell-tell’ symptom, another might cause sneezing. Additionally, there are many viruses that are yet unidentified. It is thought that up to 30% of all colds in adults are caused by unknown viruses. The most common types of cold viruses are as follows.
Rhinoviruses: Rhinoviruses are particularly active during spring, fall, and summer and cause up to 40% of all colds. There are hundreds of strains of this particular virus. Rhinoviruses are less severe than influenza viruses and typically last 2-3 weeks. However, it can aggravate condition in the elderly or those with asthma or obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Coronaviruses: Coronaviruses are most active in winter and early spring and cause approximately 20% of all colds. Of the multiple strains of coronaviruses, only six strains affect humans.
- Human Parainfluenza Virus ((HPIV) and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): These viruses cause up to 20% of all colds and can lead to severe respiratory infection and pneumonia in children.
Doctors often recommended nourishing the immune system in order to help combat common cold viruses. Foods high in vitamin A, C, and essential fatty acids, such as dark leafy greens and fish are high on the list. However, most individuals would like something a little more fast-acting to relieve their cold symptoms. They often turn to the following doctor approved natural remedies to do so. The information below reveals why they may or may not be helpful.
- Vitamin C: At best, vitamin C works to prevent a common cold by 8% but only reduces the duration of a common cold by only 24 hours and does nothing to relieve symptoms.
- Chicken Soup: Chicken soup helps to, both, inhibit and reduce inflammation of the bronchial tubes which relieves congestion and coughs. However, it must be homemade with organic meat and vegetables.
- Echinacea: Echinacea may prevent a cold 58% of the time and may reduce a cold’s duration by a little over 24 hours but does nothing to relieve symptoms.
- Ginger Tea: The gingerols in ginger tea are particularly effective at attacking viruses, germs, pain, and inflammation. It also helps calm the stomach.
- Honey: Honey improves coughs up to 40%. It also helps with any secondary bacterial infections. However, honey should never be given to infants and young children under three years of age due to it containing botulism spores which can be fatal to the young child.
- Spicy Foods: Garlic and hot peppers are proven anti-inflammatories which can help to, both, relieve sinus congestion.
- Steaming: Steaming the face can help to open up stuffy sinus passages. Sinusitis is an upper respiratory condition often caused by cold viruses. Certain essential oils are proven to contain antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. They can be used to enhance the effects of steaming. Examples of essential oils that can be used to relieve cold symptoms are essential oils of eucalyptus and lavender.
- Elderberry Syrup: Elderberry can be used to, both, prevent the common cold and reduce duration by more than half. However, elderberry commonly causes side-effects of nausea, weakness, dizziness, and worse.
So, is there any one natural remedy that is better than all of the rest to fight off the common cold fast?
Zinc: The Best Natural Remedy for the Common Cold
Zinc is an essential mineral that’s found in nearly every cell of the body. It specifically helps to boost the immune system and helps the body resist infection. Zinc also plays a large role in repairing bodily tissues. It is proven to be an excellent preventative of cold and flu and can shorten duration by half if not more. In addition, it is believed that zinc can inhibit cold and flu viruses from adhering to and replicating on the mucous membranes of the nose and upper respiratory system.
Zinc can be found in the form of lozenges, sprays, and supplements. It is important to note zinc-based nasal sprays have been known to damage sensitive nerves in the nose and cause a loss of smell. There are no serious side-effects when zinc is supplemented for 5 days. Lozenges may irritate the mouth. Zinc may also cause a metallic taste in the mouth and some temporary stomach queasiness or discomfort. Taking zinc for longer than six weeks can cause a copper deficiency which can be overcome by taking copper or a multivitamin supplement.
Rarely, if ever, is the “common cold” caused by a deficiency of chicken soup, echinacea, ginger, honey, spicy foods or a lack of steaming one’s face regularly. And, while vitamin C does play a role in immunity it does not appear to play a role in curing a common cold. With this in mind, it has to be argued that the mineral, zinc, which plays a major role in immunity and tissue repair (and the reverse when found to be deficient in the body) has to be the best natural remedy for the common cold.
Common cold on the print paper with medical and Healthcare Concept [ID 127050396 © bang oland | Dreamstime.com]
Molecular model of rhinovirus, the virus that causes common cold and rhinitis. Colorful, antiviral. [ID 113237839 © Katerynakon | Dreamstime.com]
Honey in glass jar with bee flying and flowers on a wooden floor [ID 115265254 © Wirakorn Deelert | Dreamstime.com]
Zinc [ID 54642249 © Charlieaja | Dreamstime.com]