There is still no way to cure a common cold. The best that over-the-counter cold remedies can do is to mask the symptoms and help you function, though some of the side effects, particularly drowsiness, can leave you feeling worse. As most of the symptoms of a cold help your body fight the viral infection, supressing them may actually prolong the agony. So instead of reaching for the Night Nurse try the following measures and natural remedies to help your body deal with the viral onslaught.
1. Wash your hands regularly. Your mother always told you...
In particular avoid touching your eyes or nose unless you've just washed your hands, as these are the main ways that the virus enters your body.
2. Boost your immune system with Echinacea. A few drops in some water three times a day will help build up your natural defences. Although you should not take it continuously for more than eight weeks at a time, if all around are starting to sneeze, start taking it as a preventative measure.
3. Now the central heating has gone back on, don't let the air in your home or office get too try. A dry atmosphere will dehydrate your nasal passage, making it more susceptible to a passing virus. If you haven't got a humidifier, leave a small bowl of water on top of the radiator.
4. Research suggests that taking zinc from the first onset of symptoms can shorten the duration of a cold or sore throat.
5. Garlic has excellent anti-viral properties and is another immune-system booster. The bad news is that it is most effective in its raw state (four cloves should do it - well you weren't thinking of going anywhere with that cold anyway, were you?). Otherwise use a couple of bulbs (yes bulbs, not cloves) to make a soup.
6. A few brazil nuts will help boost your body's levels of selenium.
7. Menthol and eucaplytus oils are old-established friends of the cold sufferer. The best way to use them to relieve nasal congestion or ease a sore throat or cough is to inhale. Try a few drops of esssential oil in a hot bath or vapouriser, or add to a bowl of steaming water and place your head under a towel to inhale the steam.
8. Chicken soup: known as "Jewish Pencillin". Highly digestible and nourishing, it will make you feel better even if we can't work out why.
9. If you're making a soup try spicing it up with ginger, lots black pepper or cayenne, and of course garlic. Not exactly mother's recipe but all of these are used in Ayurvedic medicine to help your respiratory track.
10. Drink lots of fluids, especially water and fruit juices. It can be helpful to add a few drops of grapefruit seed extract (GSE) or Citricidal.