Health & Fitness

Readers’ favorite cold remedies


After I recently came down with my latest cold – a usually twice-yearly event that I dread – I noticed that it wasn’t as bad as usual.

While I seemed to have some initial in-and-out bouts of fever, I did not suffer any extended bouts of not being able to breathe through my nose – to me the worst symptom of a cold.

I have a theory as to why this was. Before getting the cold, I had read online that I had been blowing my nose wrong all my life. Instead of blowing forcefully through both nostrils, this piece of advice said, you close off one nostril while blowing gently through the other for just 3 to 5 seconds, then switch to the other nostril, going back and forth as necessary. Otherwise, according to this website, you lodge bacteria all the way up in your nasal nether-regions.

When I got my cold, I went with this gentle approach, keeping the nose-blowing to a very gentle minimum.

Of course it’s impossible to know, without extended experience, just exactly why I suffered less with this cold. One other thing that I’ve been doing, since summer, is putting a drop of oregano oil atop my toothpaste every time I brush my teeth. I’ve been doing it as a preventive measure, and obviously this cold got around it. But perhaps it helped lessen my symptoms.

Some other helps I lean on as soon as I feel a cold coming on: taking goldenseal, zinc picolinate, Vitamin C and prescription Flonase; sleeping with my head propped up on two pillows; running a humidifier, especially in my room at night, with the door closed (I use a quiet, easy, non-filtered Crane ultrasonic model); continuing to get aerobic exercise as much as is comfortable; breathing deeply into the lungs; and downing oceans of liquids, most of it water, but also some juice and hot tea to break up the monotony and give my stomach a break.

It’s important to note that I’m not a doctor. I just play one for relatives and friends and anyone else who’ll listen. When we asked Eagle readers recently to do the same and let us know what helps prevent or alleviate their colds, I got some new ideas to try. Here are their recommendations:

▪ I really enjoy eating pho for relief when I’m experiencing cold-like symptoms or if I feel a cold coming on. The taste and feeling of the hot broth does wonders. The Sriracha sauce for dipping can help clear up plugged noses and sinuses. I enjoy pho every part of the year – cold season just makes me appreciate it that much more. It’s a great hangover remedy too! – Austin Scott, Wichita

▪ Quince, ginger and honey hot tea. We have a Chinese quince tree growing at the nursery (Hong’s). The fruit are about the size of a softball. – Dail Hong, Wichita

▪ Nasal rinse. I like NeilMed brand. – Marie Fiebach, Wichita

▪ Zicam (very early before the cold really gets going), and then make sure you watch symptoms for a sinus or ear infection that can often follow a cold, making antibiotics a probable requirement. – Mark Mann, Wichita

▪ I managed to kick a severe cold recently in just less than two days by loading up on zinc tablets (every two to four hours), elderberry syrup (morning and evening), drinking echinacea tea throughout the day and snacking on toast slathered with a mixture of 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon honey. Natural remedies are always the best! They actually boost your immune system to help fight the cold rather than masking the symptoms like traditional cold medicines do. – Megan McGraw, Wichita

▪ Our cough remedy is a hot toddy. I use bourbon whiskey, water, lemon juice and honey. The strength is adapted to the age of the user. My kids hated it, but knew it worked and have used it for their children. Most over-the-counter cough medicines have alcohol, so this is no different, if people worry about that. At least we know what is in our remedy. – Rosalie Hatfield, Belle Plaine

▪ Try 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey and 1/2 cup hot water to quiet a cough. It really does help, and almost instantly. And honey has antibacterial properties too. – Mary Seitz, Wichita

▪ I have discovered the secret to avoiding colds. It’s called retirement. When you are no longer forced to share limited office space with co-workers, particularly parents of young children, exposure is eliminated. I haven’t had a cold in three years. – John Geckles, Wichita

▪ Besides starting the zinc lozenges as soon as either of us feels a cold coming on, we use a homemade throat remedy that works very well. The recipe isn’t original with me, though I have tweaked it. It helps so much with sinus and ear congestion that my ear-and-sore-throat-infection-prone hubby uses this daily now:

1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh or condensed)

1tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (red) pepper

Stir well, swallow, do not eat or drink for 15 minutes. – Karyl Conard, Rose Hill

▪ An oldie but a goodie! Sore throat? In a “normal” cup/mug of hot water, add about 1/3 teaspoon vinegar, 1/3 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/2 to 1 tablespoon honey. Sip, swallow, heal. That’s what my mother did, and her mother. Might be an old Kentucky recipe, as my grandmother came here from Kentucky, as a young teen, in a covered wagon. The honey heals. The vinegar absorbs. The lemon juice quenches the cough. – Francene Sharp, Wichita

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or Follow her on Twitter: @anniecalovich.