Getting a nasty cold stinks, but it's even worse when it's the perfect beach day and all you want to do is have a day-long date with your bed. You may be thinking, how in the world can I get sick in warm weather?
Well, these miserable summer colds are mainly caused by 'non-polio enterovirus infections,' the second most common virus after rhinovirus (the winter cold instigator). Every year, enteroviruses result in about 10 to 15 million illnesses nationwide between the months of June through October.
So if you wake up one summer morning with sniffles galore and a fever, don't sweat it. We've got the scoop on four medical expert-recommended natural remedies that will help ease your symptoms or even shorten the duration of your cold. The best part is that they're inexpensive and easy to find in your grocery or natural health food store.
Zinc. Though research shows conflicting results when it comes to zinc's impact on colds, it's still a go-to remedy in the arsenal of integrative medicine. “Zinc was actually studied by the National Institutes of Health and initially found not to be efficacious and then they subsequently reversed their finding on it,” explains Dr. Sezelle Gereau-Haddon, MD, a physician specializing in integrative otolaryngology at the Continuum Center for Health and Healing. As soon as you experience cold symptoms, take one 13.3 milligram zinc lozenge every two hours while you're awake until you feel better, advises Dr. Gereau-Haddon.
Pelargonium sidoides. Long valued as a tried-and-true natural remedy in its native South Africa, pelargonium sidoides (also known as Umcka) is a type of plant useful for fighting colds and other respiratory infections. “It has a strong traditional use in treating colds and there are also a number of studies showing its efficacy in bronchitis,” notes Dr. Diana Coffa, assistant medical director at the Family Health Center at San Francisco General Hospital. The roots of the plant are used to make tinctures and tablets which may shorten a cold's length and ease symptoms if taken as soon as you begin feeling sick.
Andrographis paniculata. An endemic plant of Southeast Asia, andrographis paniculata has long been utilized in traditional Indian medicine and is now backed by studies showing its usefulness in battling upper respiration infections. “I have been recommending this herb to patients a lot lately to shorten the duration and reduce the severity of the cold,” says Dr. Jamie Corroon, ND, a naturopathic physician at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, the teaching clinic of Bastyr University. He recommends taking 200 – 400 milligrams in tablet or capsule form two to three times daily throughout the course of the cold.
Honey. Soothing and sweet, honey is helpful for calming a cough in cold sufferers of almost all ages. “With both adults and children, honey is my first-line therapy for cough,” Dr. Coffa says. This natural remedy is especially useful for children, since it doesn't have the same potential side effects that over-the-counter cough syrups do. “The cough medicines we have at the pharmacies are really kind of lousy,” Dr. Coffa notes. “Research shows that head-to-head with cough syrup, honey is as effective or more effective.”
About the Author: Erin Cassin is a lifestyle and wellness writer. In addition to her work for KnowMore.tv, she has also contributed to Lifetime Digital, the Los Angeles Times and Popular Science.