Catching a cold
We do our best to avoid it but sometimes no matter how hard we try we still end up developing cold and flu symptoms. Some experts believe this is actually a good thing as the occasional viral infection helps to make the immune system stronger so that it is able to fight off future infections. However, that’s no consolation if you’ve recently come down with a cough or a blocked nose so if you do catch a cold, what can you do?
1 – Take Echinacea
This is perhaps the most popular herb for treating colds and flu because it is so effective! Echinacea helps to strengthen the immune system thus enabling it to fight off bugs more effectively.
However, the problem with many Echinacea products is that they use dried leaves rather than the whole Echinacea plant. Our Echinaforce Echinacea Drops on the other hand, use a combination of fresh root and herb which research shows gives the best results.1
Also, when you’re suffering from cold symptoms another handy product is our Echinaforce Hot Drink. Again, this is made from fresh Echinacea, as well as Black Elderberry juice which gives it a sweet flavour. The drink is very soothing when you’re suffering from symptoms like a sore throat, plus it helps to combat aching limbs and headaches which can also arise when you have a cold.
2 – Drink plenty
By this I mean water and definitely not alcohol, caffeine or fizzy juice! We are at risk of becoming dehydrated when we have a cold so it is very important to keep your water intake up at this time. Also, if you’re suffering from a cough or a sore throat, water will help to soothe the area.
For some extra relief though, you could add a touch of lemon and honey to some warm water. This remedy has traditionally been used to treat a cough and a sore throat, plus it even comes recommended by the NHS!2
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3 – Have some chicken soup
This may be seen as an ‘old wives tale’ by some but scientists have found that, as with many traditional remedies, chicken soup does actually help when you have a cold. That’s because chicken soup contains a substance known as carnosine which works on the body’s immune system. During the early stages of infection, this substance is particularly good at reducing inflammation so if you have a blocked nose or sore throat it can be beneficial.3
4 – Rest
A cold is viewed as a minor health problem and as a result many people are unwilling to take time off to deal with it. For others though, work and family commitments mean that they have no choice but to work through a cold. Still, if you are able to take some time out to recover it is definitely worth doing so.
Rest helps strengthen the immune system which should, in turn, help speed up recovery time. So, get out your favourite film or read a book for a few hours and see if this makes you feel any better.
5 – Avoid excess painkillers
Many synthetic cold and flu remedies contain paracetamol which can be problematic. In 2011 for example, researchers at Edinburgh University found that a significant number of people were unintentionally overdosing on paracetamol. This was down to a variety of reasons, but mainly because they had taken paracetamol alongside 2 or 3 different cold remedies that they hadn’t realised also contained paracetamol. Overdosing on paracetamol can affect the health of the liver so it is really important you watch how much you’re taking.4
As an alternative to paracetamol and conventional cold and flu remedies you could try something more natural. I’ve already discussed the benefits of our Echinaforce Hot Drink but another option is our Sinuforce Nasal Spray which provides relief from congestion.
Also, if it is a cough that’s troubling you we have a number of natural remedies that can help with this too including our Bronchoforce Chesty Cough drops.
So, with all these tips in place you should be back to your old self in no time!
Originally published 27 December 2013 (updated on 16 November 2018)
1 The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 1. Art. No: CD000530.pub.
3 Rennard BO, et al. Chest 2000 Oct; 118(4):1150-7
4 Craig DGN et al. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.04067.x