Friday, November 2, 2012

Non-Medicinal Cold Treatments

At the first sign of a cold, most of us run to the local drugstore and buy a bottle of cold syrup or a box of cold pills. We also add lozenges and drinks, anything that will make us think we are getting better. The reality is, there is nothing that will help you get over a cold faster. There are several medicines that will make your symptoms go away, but the virus is definitely still there. How many times have you gotten over a cold and then a week or two later someone else in your home has the same cold? This is because you never got rid of your cold. You hid your symptoms and eventually passed it on due to a false sense of security. By treating your cold without medicine, you can be more aware of what is happening in your body and will be less likely to spread it throughout your family.

Runny Nose and Sneezing

If these are the first symptoms of your cold, chances are high that you are suffering an allergy cold. When your nose runs, it is because your nasal receptors have been irritated by an allergen. Your body tries to rid itself of this irritant by expelling it with a sneeze. If that doesn't work, it turns on the water works. If you know what you're allergic to, rid your home, office and car of it immediately. You can avoid the cold that follows. If you must use medicine, use a nasal allergy spray. Keep using it until the symptoms stop. This means your body is winning the battle with the allergen and doesn't need any more of your help. Document the first sign of the attack so that you can be prepare for the next one. If you don't have medicine the best thing to do, other than avoid the allergen, is to blow your nose. If you use a medicine for a runny nose, it will stop the process that was designed to make you better. By blowing your nose, you prevent the mucus from thickening and causing congestion and you prevent the thinner mucus from draining down you nasal passage into your lungs, (post nasal drip).


Coughing is such an annoying and painful symptom to have to live with. In order to cough, your lungs fill up with air and your diaphragm forces the air out in an attempt to force the phlegm from your lungs. It is your body's way of preventing bronchitis and pneumonia. This process causes aches in your core muscles, your neck, your head, and even your shoulders. The best way to deal with it is to listen to your own cough the same way you would listen to and evaluate a child's cough. If something is coming up, your body doesn't need any help from you. But if the cough is frequent and causing discomfort, blow your nose. Yes, blow your nose. If you find that the cough is coming in waves or cycles, then post nasal drip is the cause. Post nasal drip leads to the lungs and causes a cough. Prevent the mucus from getting in there in the first place. After blowing your nose drink water or hot tea with honey. The water washes the mucus down so it can't cause further damage. It also detoxes your body so it can spend less time trying to hydrate you and removing toxins, and more time fighting the virus. The hot tea warms the phlegm in your lungs making it easier to cough up. The honey soothes your throat. If you must take medicine, Robistussin is the best on the market because it isolates specific symptoms and treats them with different formulas so that you aren't taking medicine for symptoms you don't have. Consider this, if you go to the emergency room with bronchitis, they give you Robitussin with Codine.


For those who partake, this could make having a cold a less unpleasant thing. One of the active ingredients in cough syrup is alcohol. It helps with sleep, aches, and coughs. Alcohol increases blood flow to the capillaries. This makes coughing easier and thus more productive.

Cayenne Pepper

It's a disgusting remedy but a remedy nonetheless. Spicy foods in general increase blood flow which allows for quicker healing. So sprinkling this spice into some tea will deliver it to your throat and help it heal faster. You could also put it in a spray bottle. Of course there is always Chloraseptic.


My favorite to drink is the organic, rainforest blend available at Costco. I drink it whenever I have an allergy attack or a regular cold. The caffeine increases blood flow which helps with nasal allergies and coughs.


This helps you sleep and lets your muscles recover from the intensity of making you shiver or cough.

Hot Toddy

It matters not how you spell it or what recipe you use. The bottom line is that it makes you feel good. Why? It's alcohol. You feel warm and tingly and cough less. You'd be better off with a glass of wine or a shot of rum.


Very helpful in opening nasal passages and providing that cooling menthol feeling.

Vapor rubs

Made with eucalyptus it allows you to breathe and makes coughing easier. If you add a few drops of camphor oil, you will find that it relieves aches as well. Grab a tube of Icy Hot and you will see camphor in the ingredients. 

Ibuprofen vs. Acetaminophen

Whenever you take your child to the pediatrician or urgent care, she is given Tylenol which is acetaminophen. They recommend it as a fever reducer because it is more difficult to over-medicate with it. If you read the bottle, there are more doses allowed in a 24 hour period than there are for ibuprofen. However, take your child to the emergency room with a fever, they give her Motrin, which is an ibuprofen. They never get concerned about a fever not coming down with Tylenol. But tell them that Motrin didn't work and watch them bring out the doctors and monitors. Typically, acetaminophen is for headaches and sharp pains. This is why it is given in stronger doses after surgeries. Ibuprofen works best for swelling and muscle aches. After my cesarean, I was given acetaminophen. After my natural delivery, I was given ibuprofen. For a cold, if you must use one, I recommend ibuprofen. It's your muscles that ache and the fever that wipes you out.


The cold weather is what makes you sick. This is false. The common cold is a virus that is spread by way of saliva and mucus. Since the germs from a cough can travel approximately 3 feet after you've coughed, it's easy to see why everyone in your house is always sick. When you step out into cold weather, the mucus and phlegm thickens, causing the infected person to cough and sneeze harder. The uninfected are just sitting ducks. Most people take cold medicine which means they think their cold is gone when it is merely subdued yet contagious like chicken pox scabs. So that person comes out into the world rubbing their nose (mucus), coughing into their hands and clothes, (more infected mucus), touching doorknobs and computer keyboards, talking to you (spit=infected saliva).

Hand sanitizer is helpful. As much as I am against hand sanitizer because it makes you sicker and makes recovery more difficult, this is a fact. The cold virus lives for 3 days on objects. So the infected should use the hand sanitizer, not for their own benefit, but for others. Use disinfectant wipes on doorknobs, steering wheels, remote controls etc. Consider this fact. The air in all transportation vehicles is recycled. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid it.

Colds only last about a week. This is false. By the time you know you have a cold, you have potentially carried the virus for up to a week prior. Cold medicine labels tell you to see a doctor if symptoms persist after 7 days because they are manufactured to prevent the symptoms. If this isn't working then there is something seriously wrong. But your cold will persist beyond 7 days without symptoms. This is why your family members get sick. You think you're healthy and you're infecting others.

Honey works better than cough syrup.  This is true and false. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, "dextromethorphan is used to temporarily relieve cough caused by the common cold, the flu, or other conditions. Dextromethorphan will relieve a cough but will not treat the cause of the cough or speed recovery. Dextromethorphan is in a class of medications called antitussives. It works by decreasing activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing." As of March 14, 2012 the same source states that,
"Cochrane reviews have assessed the effectiveness of over‐the‐counter (OTC) cough medications, but none have studied honey as a cough relief. A review of two small randomised controlled trials (RCTs) showed that honey was moderately better than 'no treatment' for the relief of cough, reducing bothersome cough, improving quality of sleep for children and parents and reducing the severity of cough. This review included two small trials involving 265 children, aged two to 18 years. The effects of honey and dextromethorphan on symptomatic relief of cough, bothersome cough, and quality of sleep for both child and parent did not differ. Honey may be better than diphenhydramine for symptomatic relief of cough, reducing the severity of cough, and improving sleep quality for both parent and child. Dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine are both common ingredients in cough medications." As a parent, i'll take the natural remedy over the drug with the overdose warning. 

No comments:

Post a Comment