We’ve started to hear it: the sniffles from the person in the next cubicle. The dreaded middle-of-the-night coughs from a child. It’s the cacophony of cold season, and we are in the throes of it.
But more people are choosing to step away from the Sudafed.
That’s because many studies show that conventional treatments are either not as effective, or have the same effectiveness, as classic home remedies. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration advises caregivers to avoid giving children under 2, and in some cases age 6, over-the-counter cold medicine.
So, while previous generations turned away from homemade options in favor of commercially produced “convenience” medications, a growing number of pediatricians and parents alike are turning to natural remedies to combat sniffles and stuffy heads.
Some of these home remedies have withstood the test of time, like chicken soup and the power of locally sourced honey.
Reports from the Mayo Clinic have found that chicken soup relieves congestion, limits inflammation (because it inhibits the movement of neutrophils, an immune system cell), and speeds up the movement of mucus in the body.
A more adult cold reliever is the hot toddy. Much like chicken soup’s vapors help with congestion, the same is true with a toddy. The alcohol can dilate blood vessels, helping mucus and white blood cells fight infection, and also provide a mild sedative, making for a good night’s sleep when slumber is elusive because of cold symptoms.
Another key ingredient is honey. Honey, particularly raw honey, is full of antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and sulfur, which help to soothe sore throats and may speed recovery.
“On the Score of Hospitality: Selected Recipes of a Van Rensselaer Family, Albany, New York, 1785-1835,” a book filled with recipes and cures produced from the “Historic Cherry Hill Recipe Collection,” advocates for the use of toddy-type elixirs. Combining rum or wine with an assortment of herbs, botanical oils, and water or milk was recommended for curing sore throats, colds, coughs and “the dropsy.”