Folk remedies sometimes lack scientific evidence that they work. But if they're still passed around generation after generation, could there be something to them? Here are a few kitchen pantry and fridge items that seem to soothe several of the more common cold symptoms.
Peppermint: Say this five times fast: The peppermint plant provides plenty of potent payoffs! Because peppermint contains menthol, it may help to thin out mucus, unblocking congestion and breaking up bad coughs. The leaves of the peppermint plant can be plucked and added to hot water for a comforting tea to help pacify a sore throat. Or its oil can be extracted and dripped into a pot of steamy water or into a vaporizer to add moisture into the dry air of fall and winter.
Peppers: The capsaicin found in hot peppers like jalapeno, bell, cayenne, and poblano is an irritant. Eating foods featuring these spicy peppers will waft the irritant into your nose, your throat, and your lungs, stimulating secretions and loosening mucus.
Ginger: When steamed in hot water, ginger emits a warm, spicy vapour that may warm you up if you feel shivery. Shave off about a teaspoon's worth of fresh ginger from one of those big knotty roots and add to a steaming cup of water for a homemade ginger tea.
Cinnamon: Like ginger, cinnamon offers a mildly spicy flavour and a natural warming sensation. Stir ground cinnamon into hot water or place a few whole cinnamon sticks into a pot of boiling water to create a spicy, nose-opening mist.
Honey: Whether drizzled into your ginger or peppermint tea or spread onto a bun, honey is a sweet treat for cold sufferers. In a 2007 study, parents whose children received a teaspoonful of buckwheat honey reported fewer overnight coughing symptoms and improved sleep compared to the over-the-counter cough medications.
Lemon: This sour citrus fruit often features prominently in homemade cold relievers. It could be because the juice of a lemon bursts with immune-supportive vitamin C. Staying hydrated during a cold is crucial, and lemon lends a bit of flavour to all the water you'll have to drink. Squeeze lemon juice into a cup of hot water and stir in a teaspoon of honey or ginger to ease the pain of a sore throat.
Salt water: Pouring salt on a wound would be nasty, but to a sore, scratchy throat it's delightful. That's because a salt water mix helps to reduce inflammation and can cleanse the throat. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt into a glass of water, gargle a little at a time, spitting out and repeating as needed.
Chicken soup: This simple comfort food sits atop many a list of folksy home cold remedies. True, most hot liquids have a modest positive effect on cold symptoms and most soups are nutritious - but what gives chicken soup its particular magic? Numerous researchers have tried to pin down the science of the soup. The best they've come up with so far is that the ingredients of chicken soup work together to fight the body's inflammatory response, which kicks into high gear when infected with a cold virus. Science aside, soup just goes down easy when you're not feeling well.
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