Introduction: Home Remedies for the Common Cold

Cold season is upon us once again, and I've got a nasty head cold right now, most likely contracted by babysitting some small children (aka cute little cesspools of disease). Since I don't have any cold medicine in the house and can't be arsed to go to the drug store, I thought I would try a few popular home remedies in a completely non-scientific (and desperate) attempt to feel better.

While there is no cure or reliable treatment for the common cold, there are many remedies that will help you feel better and alleviate some of the symptoms. If you think you have a better way of defeating acute viral rhinopharyngitis, let me know in the comments section.

Note: I've ripped off stock photos from the internet rather than take my own, since I don't feel like getting off the couch right now. If I've linked to your photo without your permission, please send an email to [my user name] rather than suing me or changing the image on your server to goatse, etc.

Step 1: Take a Shower, Wash Your Hands

I always feel better after taking a shower in the morning, and my theory is that the steam will help with cold symptoms by loosening up the mucous plugging up my nose and throat. Showering also keeps you clean, lessening the number of germs your body has to fight off.

Washing your hands is a good idea even if you're not sick, and if you're blowing your nose every five minutes like I am, it's also a good way to prevent transmitting your disease to other people.

Step 2: Vitamin C

My grandpaw was a biochemistry professor for decades, and always swore by ascorbic acid as a general cure-all and immune system booster. Since vitamin C is non-toxic and merely passes through your body, taking huge doses of the stuff can't really hurt you, even if it might not help either.

You can take it in pill form or by eating citrus fruit like lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits.

Step 3: Drink Plenty of Fluids

Water helps you move toxins out of your body, and is the main solvent for all of the biochemical processes in your body. Regular old tap water is good, but I also like tea or kombucha. As previously stated, inhaling the steam coming from a cup of tea can help break down mucous in the nose and throat. My favorite is some good strong English breakfast tea with a little bit of honey.

Step 4: Soup

While there's nothing magical about soup, it makes a great comfort food and provides plenty of water (see previous step).

The traditional remedy is chicken noodle soup, but I think that matzo ball soup (aka "Jewish penicillin") makes a wonderful alternative.

Step 5: Chew Gum

I know it sounds odd, but I've always found that chewing gum makes me feel better when my sinuses are plugged up. Maybe it's the mechanical action of chewing, maybe it's the increased saliva that dissolves the mucous, or maybe it's just distracting me from my symptoms.

Step 6: Whiskey

I found an old bottle of whiskey in the basement, and took a shot. This turned out to be a pretty decent cold remedy, as it made me feel quite a bit better, if only for an hour or so. My logic is that many cough syrups are mostly alcohol, and whiskey tastes much better than that god-awful fake cherry stuff. Of course, you don't need to drink high-quality scotch; rot-gut plastic bottle vodka (or any kind of spirits) would probably still work, but cheap stuff wouldn't taste as good and might give you a hangover.

Please note that this will not make you any healthier. The effects and risks of alcohol consumption are the same (or worse!) if you are sick. Don't drink too much (one shot per hour is plenty), don't have any before driving, and don't drink if you're underage.

Step 7: Sleep

Resting is probably one of the easiest things you can do in order to recover from illness. And trust me, if you have a nasty cold, you will want to sleep (it's either that or the whiskey). I've been feeling out of it all day (again, could be the whiskey, not just the cold), and I think I'll be going to bed early tonight.