What can I do for a cold?
May 21, 2004 10:58 AM   Subscribe

I've got a cold. I've been drinking fluids and getting rest, but is there anything I can take that will actually help me get better? Also, what treatments are purely psychosomatic? I've always suspected echinacea.
posted by capndesign to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
i like to do several things -

take lots of vitamin C. both chewable good tasting kinds and the kinds that you swallow in capsule form.

eat lots of garlic. my favorite new way of eating tons of garlic is in a basque soup recipe . . . cut up lots of garlic into slices (an entire bunch or more) and chop up about a handful of fresh parsley. in a soup pan, pour in a generous amount of olive oil and heat. once hot, add sliced garlic and crushed red peppers to taste (go light until you figure out how much you like - i've overdone them before and it gets really hot) and "slightly" brown garlic. add chicken broth or vegetable stock and heat at a low rolling boil for about 15/20 minutes. remove from heat and add parsley, salt and pepper to taste. pour a bowl of soup and have lots of croutons handy to add as you eat (otherwise they get super super soggy). yummy.

i also really like Garlicin, a slow release garlic capsule. something that i swear cuts the days down when i get a cold.

sleep as much as you can and in seven or less days it should go away.

i have no idea about the actual scientific validity of any of the above things - i like them, they work for me.

for colds, there are a million things you could take. i think healing is about finding things that work for you - aside from bias or rumors - and go with those . . . there is really no one-size-fits-all silver bullet yet.
posted by nyoki at 12:00 PM on May 21, 2004


I've been drinking fluids and getting rest, but is there anything I can take that will actually help me get better?

I'm really not saying this to be a dick, but no. There are medications that can help manage symptoms, but your body will have to beat back the crud on its own say-so.

"Treatments" for the common cold are all based in anecdote and without any hard science behind them: ecchinacea tea, hot toddys, vitamin C overloads, steam baths, blah blah blah; at least none of them will likely hurt you.
posted by Skot at 12:02 PM on May 21, 2004


Does it really matter if it's psychosomatic? If you feel better, you feel better, whether your body is actually healed or you've mentally convinced yourself that you're well. I also wouldn't say natural/herbal treatments are completely based in anecdote; just because the FDA doesn't "approve" of natural remedies, doesn't mean they're not backed up by science.

With that said, I don't think you were necessarily looking for herbal remedies, capndesign, but, like Skot said, it doesn't hurt to try:

Garlic, as mentioned before, has been hailed as "nature's antibiotic." I don't know if you want me to get into the technical details, so I won't. Finely chop one or two cloves, and press. Let them sit for 15 minutes, and then swallow. (If you can't handle raw garlic, you can certainly add it to food, as long as it remains raw.)

Ginger is also a great cold herb. You can buy a ginger root, but the best way to utilize ginger is find organic, ginger tea and drink several cups a day.

Hot spices -- cumin, chili pepper, etc., -- will clear the sinus passages.

Echinacea is a more preventative herb than a "cure," but it doesn't hurt to take it while you've got a cold. Naked Juice makes a great drink called "Well Being" that includes echinacea in the ingredients.

Zinc logenzes, or even a multi-vitamin with an ample amount of zinc.

I don't believe in a vitamin C overload -- your body will naturally dispose of the vitamin C it doesn't need, so taking more than you need is pointless. (In my opinion).

And you know the rest of the drill -- sleep more than you think you need. Very light excercise will keep the body systems from becoming sluggish. Eating an extremely pure diet -- fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains (no refined sugar or flour or packaged foods) will keep the immune system running efficiently.

Hope you feel better!
posted by Zosia Blue at 12:17 PM on May 21, 2004


Also, Skot is right -- all of these will only alleviate symptoms. Your body just has to work through the virus.
posted by Zosia Blue at 12:19 PM on May 21, 2004


Thanks for the help so far. To clear things up, I don't mind using herbal remedies but I am curious which of them actually have an effect on how your body deals with a cold and which just make you "feel better."

I agree that if I feel better then that's good enough. It's just interesting to think about how many drugs tend to have a placebo effect.
posted by capndesign at 12:35 PM on May 21, 2004


The zinc gluconate in Cold-Eeze has been clinically proven to reduce the duration of colds. I've found it to be just about the only thing that actually does anything.
posted by kindall at 1:34 PM on May 21, 2004


what treatments are purely psychosomatic?
You're not sick, no way...a happy disposition: feel the way you want to feel.
A nice warm cup of chicken soup, which may because the broth has garlic and other spices.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:52 PM on May 21, 2004


As a physician once told me: there are two options, we can fight this thing with all that is known to medical science and the traditional healing arts and you'll be cured in seven days; or we can leave it alone, in which case it'll take a whole week before you start to feel better.

Or, sleep for a week.
posted by Grod at 1:56 PM on May 21, 2004


I stay in a Nyquil-induced coma until the cold goes away.
posted by birdherder at 2:11 PM on May 21, 2004


Take a bath... And wrap a hot towel around your head.
posted by keswick at 3:22 PM on May 21, 2004


Paracetamol, decongestant, gallons of apple juice and a radio (preferably tuned to something funny).
posted by dodgygeezer at 9:22 AM on May 22, 2004


Part of helping you get better is making sure you don't get any sicker while your body slowly heals. To that end, decongestants help if you're in danger of getting sinus infections or bronchitis. Sleep helps reduce stress [since your body is already pretty taxed just fighting the cold] which keeps you from getting worse. I find garlic helps my nose get unstuffed. I generally roast a whole head [soak in olive oil, wrap in tin foil, pop in a toaster oven or real oven for 45 minutes, spread on toast] and eat it followed by a lot of water. I crank up the heat if I can stand it in the winter so I don't have to waste valuable energy staying warm. Electric blanket set on "stun" and a hot bath help. I also try to stay away from stuff that seems to put a small dent in my healthiness so I have less coffee, less sugar, less big meat meals and less processed crap. I also don't drink too much alcohol, though sometimes a shot or two of something before bed can help with sleep. Nyquil or Theraflu comas can also help this along, plus help make your sleep a bit less rocky.
posted by jessamyn at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2004


Zinc, zinc, zinc. I can't stress this enough. Lots of the zinc they sell is disgusting, but I really like the tablets made by Sootherbs. They're zinc, echinacea, and vitamin C all-in-one.
posted by TurkishGolds at 11:23 AM on May 23, 2004


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