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Five Ways to Quickly Cure a Cold

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Here it comes. A subtly sore throat and flashbacks of swigging cherry cough medicine are sure signs of future days off work. There's that stuffy nose, your head feeling heavier than a wrecking ball, chills and a red, raw nose. The common cold has hit.

After extensive online research, the follow are the most common and natural ways to eliminate a cold. These five tips are ways to help prevent a cold caught early on.

1) Gargle- This may seem like your mom's home remedy, but experts consistently point to gargling as an effective way to relieve a sore throat. According to a WebMD interview with Charles Inlander, president of The People's Medical Society, gargling moistens the throat and temporarily relieves throat irritation (1). There are also various teas and honeys you can use in your gargling solution that will reduce throat irritation, if you want to get fancy.

2) Get steamy- Whether it's taking a hot shower, slowing sipping a bowl of chicken noodle soup, or having your nose hoover over a hot cup of tea, steam relieves congestion. Also, drinking liquids such as tea and chicken broth hydrate the body to help fend off illnesses.

Java and Jack lovers beware, it's important to refrain from coffee, soda and alcohol when you're under the weather (2). These are all caffeinated products. Caffeine dehydrates the body, which is exactly what you don't want while your sick. While a tequila shot may temporarily clear up your sinuses, try to resist!

3) Take a Mental Break- Yes, this means you get to sleep! Take a day or two off work, sleep, lay in bed and de-stress. New York Times writer Jane Brody reported that psychological stress can lead to a cold, according to a study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

You are more prone to catch a cold if you're in a long-term and emotionally wearing stressful state of mind. This can causes the body to break down, Brody says. "It has to be long-term stress, lasting at least a month and stemming from a significant problem like being fired from a job after years of service or being left financially or emotionally bereft by a divorce.

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I find that herbal teas can be a great way to both alleviate some of the symptoms of a cold, and to stay properly hydrated. This fits into a lot of the points you make in this article! Breathing in the vapors of aromatic teas such as mint tea can be a great way to "get steamy" as recommended under point two in this article! Not only do the vapors of any tea help, but plants such as mint have aromatic oils which can help clear out congestion. Another herb to consider is rooibos, which has shown some promise in treating respiratory conditions by facilitating breathing. Also, the process of drinking warm fluids can relax you, and many herb teas have additional relaxing properties, which can help stimulate your immune system and get your body into heal & repair mode.

While there hasn't been much research on whether it actually carries through into shortening the duration of a cold or other viral infections, there are many herbs that are commonly used in herbal teas that have been shown to have significant antiviral properties in lab studies. For example, lemongrass, as well as many other lemon-scented herbs which contain a similar complex of chemicals, such as lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lemon myrtle, have been demonstrated to have potent antiviral effects in vitro. This has been demonstrated both through examining the essential oils extracted from these plants, and from studying individual chemical components of the oil. The lemongrass page I link to has citations of studies for anyone curious to see some hard science to back up these claims!

As a last point, some herbal teas can be a good source of vitamin C...especially those containing berries or rose hips.

February 10, 2010 - 2:29pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.