What really works?
Here are our winter go-to remedies for feeling better. Expert Marc I. Leavey, M.D., a primary care physician at Mercy Health Services in Baltimore, Maryland, shares some tips to get you through the winter season! *
Sleeping with Vicks VapoRub on our feet, covered with socks.
There’s no evidence that Vicks VapoRub on your feet can treat a cold. But if you enjoy the smell, go for it. One caveat: never use VapoRub on kids under age 1; in kids under 6, keep it to neck or chest only. Better yet, check first with your physician.
Drinking hot tea with honey.
The honey and warmth soothe your throat, and the tea keeps you hydrated, which is key to helping the cold move up and out. So drink up!
Vitamin C and chicken soup
Multiple studies have shown that vitamin C doesn’t have an effect on symptoms or duration. But chicken soup is the real deal. Research shows that it has an anti-inflammatory effect, helping to ease congestion and cut down the time you’re sick.
Using a Neti pot can treat nasal allergies and help relieve congestion by keeping the mucus moving. With a Neti pot, always use distilled, sterilized water or a commercially packaged sterile saline solution. Tap or bottled water might introduce germs you don’t want in your nose.
Hanging fresh-cut eucalyptus from the showerhead. The steam releases the natural oils, which loosen up congestion.)
The eucalyptus/steam combo might make you feel like you’re less stuffed up, but it probably won’t shorten the length of the cold or lessen the severity of symptoms.
1. WASH YOUR HANDS THE RIGHT WAY.
Sudsing up kills germs as well as removes the dirt under which they hide, so be sure to wash often, particularly after touching anything that’s been handled a lot, such as pens, doorknobs, remotes, phones. Doing it right means lathering for at least 20 seconds (almost as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday”), and getting between your fingers and under your nails. Rinse thoroughly, and dry; germs stick to skin more easily when it’s wet.
2. WALK MORE
“A brisk daily walk is the single most powerful thing you can do to prevent illness,” says David C. Nieman, DrPH, director of the Human Performance Lab at Appalachian State University, North Carolina Research Campus. Nieman found that people who exercised five days a week for 20 minutes or more reduced the number of days they were sick by 43 percent.
3. TAKE a 10-MINUTE BREATHER
When you feel constantly anxious, levels of stress hormone cortisol skyrocket, which can dampen your immune system, making it harder to fight off a virus. In fact, research has shown that people who are coping with lots of stress have double the risk of getting sick.
*Portions reprinted from: Better Homes And Garden, January 2015, p. 110.