Natural remedies: what works, what does not work
Virtually everyone will fight against colds and the flu at some point. The average adult is sick with the common cold (with symptoms such as sore throat, cough and mild fevers) two to four times a year. Another 15% to 20% get the flu. Since these diseases are caused by a virus, they can not be stopped completely. But you can relieve your symptoms. And since these are common diseases, there is no shortage of remedies to alleviate them.
The big question remains: what natural treatments work and what are a waste of time? Our medical experts review many popular home remedies, from zinc and garlic to equine and saline drops, and offer useful and objective information that you can use to keep yourself and your family healthy.
Does Echinacea work?
In the United States, the herbal supplement Echinacea has been increasingly popular. In 2009 alone, US consumers bought $ 132 million in value. It is commonly touted as a natural health supplement that is believed to reduce the duration of respiratory infections and alleviate their symptoms. But does it really work?
Echinacea is a traditional medicine used by some Native American tribes for a variety of diseases, such as scarlet fever and syphilis. The grass has been used for more than 400 years in this way, according to archaeological evidence. In the 19th century, a dubious seller named H.C.F. Meyer began to claim that the herb could cure almost anything, including Cancer. Its popularity decreased in the USA. UU At the beginning of the twentieth century, but increased in Germany, where most of the clinical trials of the herb are still carried out at present.
In general, the results of trials with Echinacea that seek to verify its use as a remedy for the cold or flu have been discouraging. The trials have suffered a weak analysis, and many of the better controlled and more robust studies show negative results. In addition, this supplement may interact with the medication in progress, which means that its use should be discussed with your doctor. The National Institute of Health warns that in a large trial, echinacea seemed to increase the risk of allergic rashes in children.
Does zinc work?
Zinc is another natural and popular remedy for colds and flu. In 2014, US consumers spent about $ 108 million in zinc supplements. But there is a real reason to be careful when it comes to zinc.
A study in Britain found that zinc supplements in high doses can reduce the cold in almost three days. While other research has not been able to produce the same results, it certainly sounds impressive. In addition, zinc seems to have an antiviral effect, at least under laboratory conditions.
But before rushing to use zinc at the beginning of your next cold, consider some of the possible drawbacks of consuming it in high doses. Zinc comes in two basic forms. It can be taken orally as a pill, syrup or tablet, or it can be rubbed in the nose (intranasal zinc). The intranasal form is often discouraged due to a frightening side effect: it can cause you to lose your sense of smell, potentially permanently. The Food and Drug Administration banned several nasal zinc products after 130 consumers reported a loss of their sense of smell after use.
When taken orally, zinc has several other potential drawbacks. Too much can cause copper deficiency, reduce HDL (good) cholesterol from the bloodstream, increases the risk of prostate cancer, and interact with other medications in potentially dangerous ways. Perhaps the most dangerous of all, some oral zinc products contain cadmium, which in high doses can cause kidney failure.
Do vitamins prevent cold and flu?
When it comes to upper respiratory infections, can vitamins make a difference? It may depend on what you are taking.
Two vitamins have come to the forefront as is possible for cold and flu. Both vitamin C and vitamin D They have been studied as potentially preventive treatments for these diseases. Both seem to have some effectiveness in certain ways. It is still being studied if they improve the ability of the immune system to fight diseases, but this is what we have learned so far.
On its surface, vitamin C has much in its favor. It is a necessary nutrient found in many of the foods we eat regularly. Those foods include oranges, red peppers, kale and broccoli to start with. It is found in orange juice, which is also a relatively mild food for digestive discomfort.
The investigation of this nutrient as a remedy for respiratory infections is divided into two lines. A line of research tries to understand if high doses taken regularly can prevent colds. The second line of research tries to answer whether high doses taken during a respiratory infection can reduce the duration of the disease.
In the first question, if high daily doses can prevent colds, it has been negative. There seems to be no solid scientific evidence that this nutrient can prevent a cold from developing. A possible exception is in the case of those who experience brief episodes of severe physical exercise or frigid environments; They can benefit from high and regular doses.
In the second question, if high doses can reduce the duration of a disease, it is not conclusive, but the available evidence suggests that it may have some benefit.
Different people seem to respond differently. For some, 1,000 mg seems to be useful. For others, 2,000 mg is needed. Be careful: at these high doses, some people will experience Diarrhea and nausea.
Vitamin D supplements have been tested to find out if they can prevent colds and flu. Three great judgments have reached contradictory conclusions.
In the first trial, scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand followed 322 otherwise healthy adults for a year and a half. The study found that people who took supplements got sick as often as those who did not. A second trial with more than 2,000 adults between 45 and 75 years of age also found no significant results when taking supplements.
However, a third trial conducted by scientists at McMaster University found more promising results for those who took supplements. In this study, 600 students were evaluated. Some were given vitamin D, while others were not. Students who received additional nutrients were significantly less likely to get an upper respiratory infection.
You should try harder to find natural sources of food for your "D daily", although some foods are fortified with this nutrient, which facilitates its introduction into your diet. Fortified foods include milk and some orange juices. Natural sources include fatty fish such as mackerel and tuna, and swordfish and salmon have particularly high levels. Unfortunately, these fish can also contain high levels of mercury.
Does chicken soup work?
For many, chicken soup is a comforting way of waiting for illness. But the research points to several potential health benefits beyond mere comfort. When the heat and steam come, that steam could help open the nasal passages and relieve congestion. Drinking nutritious broth can keep your energy and avoid it dehydration. In addition to all that, the laboratory results suggest that chicken soup can relieve inflammation. However, its anti-inflammatory properties have not been proven in human subjects.
Does hot tea work?
When you feel sick, have you ever tried to put a tea kettle? The benefits of tea are very similar to those of chicken soup; in both cases the vapor can unclog congested nostrils. Swallowing the hot liquid can soothe a sore throat, which can also relieve a discomfort cough, in addition to staying hydrated. And it is possible that the antioxidants in black and green tea help fight diseases.
Does a Hot Toddy work?
This classic cocktail has been used for generations to fall asleep fast while ill. And it can work, in moderation. Hot toddy is typically made of hot tea, lemon, a teaspoon of honey and a shot of whiskey or bourbon. Along with chicken soup and hot tea, the hot baby can reduce congestion and relieve sore throat and cough. It also makes you sleepy, but be careful here, too much alcohol actually harms the quality of your sleep.
Does garlic work?
Although many consider it tasty, the effectiveness of garlic as a treatment for cold and flu requires more research. According to the NIH, there is not enough evidence to determine if garlic can help prevent these viral diseases or relieve their symptoms. Some may find that garlic supplements are unpleasant due to their tendency to cause bad breath, body odor and other side effects. However, anyone taking anticoagulants should be particularly cautious. Garlic can interact with anticoagulant medications, which means that anyone taking these medications should first talk about the use of garlic with a doctor.
Do humidifiers and steam work?
This is a winner for your health. Steam breaks through clogged nasal passages, relieving congestion and relieving dry, irritated breasts. For a solution for the entire room, try using a humidifier. Older humidifiers can cause dangerous burns to anyone who gets too close, but more modern models have fresh steam for sinus relief that is safer.
Do saline drops work?
Saline drops and aerosols are effective methods to relieve potentially painful sinus congestion. You can buy them at the pharmacy or make them at home. To make your own saline drops, mix eight ounces of warm water with ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda. To spray the mixture into your nostrils, use a bulb syringe while holding the other nostril closed. To make the most of this treatment, repeat two or three times before moving to the other nostril.
Do the Neti Pots work?
the Neti pot It is a form of nasal irrigation It uses a small ceramic pot to clean the breasts with water and salt. To get the best health results from one, try the same saline solution described in the previous section on saline drops. You will find that your mucus is thinner and drained more quickly. This can also be good for facial pain, pressure and congestion caused by chronic sinus problems. Read the instructions; do not use tap water, since the deaths are due to contamination of the tap water with an amoeba, Naegleria fowleri.
Does menthol ointment work?
Menthol is a mint extract. It is responsible for the cold sensation found in mints, and when used as an ointment, can help alleviate the symptoms that often accompany the flu and the common cold. For starters, menthol is a good decongestant. It loosens the mucus that comes with congestion and also makes the cough more productive by helping to break phlegm. In addition, menthol can be useful to relieve sore throats and dry cough. Babies should not be exposed to menthol or mint, and peppermint oil should not be taken orally.
Does gargling work?
Gargaroos not only work to relieve the symptoms of a cold or flu, but can also be useful to prevent these diseases in the first place.
One of the most unpleasant cold symptoms is a sore throat. Luckily, you do not need anything other than salt and water to treat the sore throat. Simply mix 1 cup of warm water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Gargle with the mixture, and spit it out again. This combination works simply and quickly, and is recommended for anyone 8 years of age or older.
Prevention of cold and flu. virus It may be even simpler, according to a study. The researchers followed 387 healthy Japanese adults. Some of the test subjects gargled under running water, others used water and an antiseptic, and a third group did not gargle at all. After 60 days, those who used water alone were significantly less likely to get an upper respiratory infection. It is not known why water alone was more effective, but the study's authors point out that water is commonly chlorinated in Japan, which may help explain this.
Do the nasal strips work?
Sometimes, a nasal congestion is what prevents you from sleeping what you need while your immune system fights a virus. If that is true, you may want to consider the nasal strips. The nasal strips are essentially tape placed through the bridge of the nose. The idea is to open the nasal passages to facilitate a little more breathing through a congested nose. They may not be able to open their noses, but the nasal strips make it easier to breathe.
Does the fever work?