Cold Remedies Backed By Science, Not Just Your Hippie Friend

It’s that wonderful time of year again when nasty viruses threaten to make us miserable. You want a cold remedy to stop that virus in its tracks but don’t want to waste your time on remedies that don’t work. Ain’t nobody got time for that! We’ve done the research on cold remedies to figure out which ones are legit and which ones are bunk.

Unproven Remedies

Echinacea, Zinc and Vitamin C are popular cold remedies but are not actually backed by science. Research presents mixed results for all three of these remedies so they might be a waste of your time:


It’s science! These home remedies for cold and flu are backed by research:

Need to nip this cold in the bud? These cold remedies defend against infection and inflammation:

Chicken soup – Your mom was right all along! Research says it may be better than over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. The soup inhibits the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection.

Omega-3 – According to the a study by Britain’s Institute of Human Nutrition and School of Medicine Omega-3s increase the activity of phagocytes—cells that fight flu by eating up bacteria. Another study shows Omega-3s increase airflow and protect lungs against colds and respiratory infections. Who knew?

Ginger – My favorite cold remedy is proven to have anti-inflammatory effects. This ancient Chinese remedy has been proven to have a better therapeutic profile and have fewer side effects than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. That means it can reduce viral inflammation in your sinuses, throat and lungs.

Ginseng This ancient Chinese cold remedy enhances the immune response and can reduce the frequency and severity of colds. According to a Canadian study, only one in 10 of those taking ginseng extract suffered two or more colds over a four-month period (compared with one in four of those in the placebo group).


Suffering from a stuffed up nose or painful congestion? These cold remedies reduce congestion:

Humidity – Yasss, turn on that humidifier because colds thrive in dry conditions. Research has found that higher humidity levels indoors can significantly reduce the infectivity of influenza virus particles released by coughing.

Elderberry extract – Another favorite cold remedy that helps reduce swelling in the mucous membranes. One study found that a lozenge with elderberry extract helped reduce flu symptoms when taken within 24 hours of symptoms starting.

Hot liquids – Bring on the hot toddies because hot liquids can loosen secretions in the chest and sinuses. Researchers at the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University in Britain found “The hot drink provided immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness and tiredness.”


Feeling a sore throat come on?  This cold remedy calms your throat:

Salt water gargle – I dread this but it works every time. A study from The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found those that gargled regularly had a nearly 40 percent decrease in upper respiratory tract infections, and when they did get sick, “gargling tended to attenuate bronchial symptoms.”


Coughing up a storm? These cold remedies can ease your cough:

Vapor rub – Did your mom give you vapor rub when you were home sick from school? This old cold remedy can provide cough relief. One study found vapor rub can help relieve symptoms of coughing and congestion while making it easier to sleep.

Honey – The many benefits include suppressing coughs. In a study published in The Archives of Pediatric Medicine and Adolescent Medicine, honey produced the greatest improvements when it came to better sleep and reduced cough frequency and severity.

Keep these in mind and you will be back to feeling like yourself!

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