Zinc is believed to reduce the length and severity of a cold, if taken when symptoms first appear. Zinc isn't recommended for long-term supplementation because excess zinc can impair the body's ability to absorb another important metal, copper.
- Vitamin C
While present research does not indicate that vitamin C helps prevent getting a cold, it seems to be effective at lessening the severity and duration of cold symptoms. Also, having sufficient vitamin C can help increase resistance against infections in general (supplemental doses don't appear to improve this effect).
Astragulus root has antiviral properties and can help boost the immune system. Astragulus may help protect against getting a cold, but probably won't be helpful once you have a cold. Astragulus is most commonly seen in capsule, tea, or extract form.
Honey is used to calm coughing and soothe a sore throat. It is believed to work by coating the throat, to ease the irritation. Honey also contains antioxidants and has antibacterial properties. Honey is a popular remedy for children, though it shouldn't be given to children younger than one year of age because of the risk of botulism poisoning.
Ginger is a traditional remedy for the coughing and sore throat that can accompany a cold. One of the most popular ways to take ginger is as hot ginger tea, sometimes with honey and lemon. Normal amounts of ginger, as would be found in foods, are tolerated by most people, but you should avoid taking ginger in supplemental quantities if you have gallstones, are taking blood-thinning medications, or will be undergoing surgery.
Echinaecea is taken when cold symptoms first appear. A typical dose would be to take echinacea every two to three hours with a total daily dose of three grams per day for several days. Present research does not indicate the herb statistically reduces the duration or severity of a cold, but it remains a popular remedy.
A steam inhalation containing eucalyptus can help thin mucous and provide temporary relief for a sore throat and congestion that can accompany a cold.
Garlic has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It is mainly taken to boost the immune system to help a person resist getting the cold or flu, though it can help prevent secondary infections if you catch a cold. Raw garlic is considered to be much more effective than cooked or dried garlic.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a popular home remedy for sinus infection, colds, and the flu. Elderberry juice has antiviral properties. Elderberry is available as juice, syrup, and in capsules. Only the berries from the plant are edible. Other parts of the plant (including the unripe berries) contain cyanide and are toxic.
The type of ginseng grown in North America (Panax quinquefolius) may help protect you from catching a cold or the flu and may reduce its duration and severity if you contract it. However, ginseng interacts with many other medications, so if you are taking an over-the-counter or prescription drug, it's best to consult your medical professional before trying this remedy.
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