Your grandmother was right; according to the Mayo Clinic, saltwater gargles can help you soothe a sore throat and temporarily relieve that scratchy feeling you get on the back of your throat when you have a cold.
Because salt is a drying agent, when you mix warm water with salt, and use it as a gargle the salt particles draw moisture and liquid from your throat and the back of your mouth that accumulate during an infection. As an astringent, the salt can also break down mucus and get rid of irritants such as fungi and allergens that can form in your throat, making it sore and tender.
Saltwater gargles are also believed to wipe off harmful pathogen such as viruses that stick to your mouth and throat, protecting you from developing a more serious infection and even keeping future infectious agents at bay. However, be mindful that salt can be very drying, so using too much salt on your gargles can actually dry out your mouth and throat tissues, causing a whole set of different complications.
If you want to give saltwater gargles a try, we recommend filling an 8-ounce glass with warm, preferably filtered water and mixing in about a quarter to half a teaspoon of table salt until it dissolves. Gargle the solution one large gulp at a time (being careful not to swallow it) for 30 seconds then spit it out in the sink, until you have finished gargling the entire cup. Repeat every three to four hours until your throat feels better.
Though you should never swallow a saltwater gargle solution, you can add a drop or two of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to improve the taste and leave your throat with a fresh feeling after spitting the mixture out.
Neti pots and other forms or nasal irrigation are very controversial figures when it comes to cold and sinus relief. Some people swear by them, while others don’t want anything to do with them.
Nasal irrigation is the act of clearing your sinuses with a saline or saltwater solution with a neti pot, syringe, squeeze bottle or any other irrigation device. Out of all irrigation devices, the neti pot is the oldest and most common one, dating back hundreds of years and praised for its simplicity and effectiveness.
When you use a nasal irrigation device, you are pushing a saline solution through your nasal cavities onto your mouth, flushing out anything that’s clogging your sinuses and breathing passages, including mucus, debris, and allergens. Nasal irrigation can be very helpful when you have a cold because it can unclog your nostrils, allowing you to breathe free, relieve sinus headaches caused by an accumulation of mucus, and alleviate cold-related allergies.
Neti pots tend to be safe when used appropriately, but you should always remember to thoroughly sterilize anything you are going to use for nasal irrigation to avoid inserting any unwanted bacteria or pathogens back into your body. There are many recipes for creating your own saline solution at home, but you can also buy pre-made sterile and medical grade solutions at your local pharmacy.
Another home remedy that grandma got right; several studies have suggested that chicken soup can help alleviate your cold symptoms for a few reasons.
First, chicken contains cysteine, an amino acid that can help thin-out mucus in your lungs and airways, allowing you to expel the phlegm out more easily. Second, a nice bowl of chicken soup will not only keep you warm, but you will also be breathing in the steam it releases, providing your stuffy nose with some brief, but much-needed relief. And finally, soup will keep you full and hydrated, which your body needs in order to fight the infection better.
Aside from being delicious, honey is one of nature’s oldest and most special liquids. We know a lot about the properties of honey because it has been used for more than 5,000 years as a medicine mainly because of its antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Honey has also been linked to wound healing, and a particular kind of honey, called Manuka honey has also been shown to aid digestion and fight H. pylori, the bacteria that cause peptic ulcers.
The power of honey doesn’t lack when it comes to colds; the World Health Organization recommends using honey as an all-natural cough remedy because it has been shown to reduce a cough in people with upper respiratory infections even more effectively than some cough medications. To soothe a stubborn cough naturally, you can take one or two teaspoons of honey (any kind is fine as long as it is real honey) on its own or add it to a warm tea.