Cough & runny nose: Natural home remedies work

Cough & runny nose: Natural home remedies work



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Autumn is just around the corner and the temperatures are falling. The most common complaints are runny nose, cough and sore throat. Especially with colds, many patients swear by natural home remedies. Because drugs can alleviate the symptoms of influenza infections, they do not cure them. Home remedies are therefore not only recommended by naturopaths, but also by an increasing number of doctors. The ancient and handed down experience medicine knows numerous forms of treatment and herbs that relieve cold symptoms.

Already in the morning there is an uncomfortable scratching of the throat, the nose is blocked and the first headache indicates a serious infection. "Cold infections usually last about six days," says Peter Walger from the professional association of German internists. The infections are harmless. In no case pleasant. Nevertheless, those affected should not "iron away" the complaints with conventional medicines, as Hans-Michael Mühlenfeld from the German General Practitioners Association warns.

The Stiftung Warentest has also taken a closer look at "chicken soup as a tried-and-true home remedy" for colds and, referring to studies at the University of Nebraska, has stated that "chicken soup blocks certain white blood cells (neutrophils) in the body that are responsible for inflammatory processes ". These neutrophils would be released in large quantities in the case of viral infections such as flu infections or upper respiratory infections. Furthermore, "the effects of the amino acid cysteine ​​contained in chicken broth were analyzed in numerous studies". The protein is therefore "anti-inflammatory and has a decongestant effect on the mucous membranes", reports the Stiftung Warentest. In addition, "chicken soup contains considerable amounts of the mineral zinc - and is bound to the protein building block histidine." Zinc is also said to have an extremely positive effect on colds.

Special home remedies for various cold symptoms There is usually a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract behind the symptoms, which in most cases heals on its own after a maximum of one week. Medications have hardly any effect against the viruses, which is why it makes little sense to resort to medicines for colds. Various home remedies can be used to support healing and relieve symptoms. Some remedies are aimed directly at certain symptoms of the common cold, such as a runny nose or cough, while others target the entire body and are more likely to have a systemic effect. Almost every typical cold symptom can be treated with appropriate home remedies. For example, special home remedies for colds, home remedies for cough, home remedies for sore throats, home remedies for hoarseness or home remedies for earache are known in naturopathy.

Chicken broth as a tried-and-true home remedy for colds Although home remedies cannot cure a viral infection, Hans-Michael Mühlenfeld from the German General Practitioners' Association advises his patients “nevertheless, because it supports the body and alleviates symptoms,” reports the news agency “dpa” . This also applies to the chicken broth, the effectiveness of which Andreas Waltering from the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), however, expressed some doubts about the “dpa”. "A cold person should eat chicken soup for a few days and after three days is asked how he is doing. (…) He feels better, and the result of the study is: This is due to the chicken soup. However, a cold usually gets better after a few days, ”the news agency quotes the doctor. But although the anti-inflammatory and decongestant effects are doubtful, Waltering emphasized that chicken soup is recommended for colds. Because "it contains minerals, and it is used to replace the fluid that you lose through sweating, such as increased temperature," says Waltering to dpa.

Warmth and sufficient hydration are particularly important The goal of many home remedies for colds is to replace the loss of fluid and to ensure adequate moistening of the mucous membranes. Because the mucous membranes are the first point of attack for the pathogens and if they are adequately moistened, they can better protect themselves against potential pathogens. The attackers are eliminated with the secretion. Inhaling favors this mechanism and also clears nasal congestion. Nasal douches can also contribute to the moistening of the nasal mucous membranes and help flush out infiltrated pathogens. Gargling has a similar effect on the pharynx mucosa. A cold bath also promotes the moistening of the mucous membranes, whereby various essential oils can be added to the bath water. The heat has an additional positive effect here, since it improves the blood circulation and thus supports the organism in the fight against the pathogens.

Choosing cold tea according to the respective symptoms The positive effect of heat also comes into play with the various cold teas. In addition, the plants used here have different effects that can be used specifically against certain symptoms. For example, thyme relieves cough, sage or table salt has an expectorant effect and chamomile dries out the cough, reports the "dpa", citing Hans-Michael Mühlenfeld from the German Family Association. Which home remedy is suitable depends on the respective symptoms. This also applies to the additives when inhaling. The basic mixture of inhalation can also be used for gargling after cooling, the doctor explained. In this way, the essential oils would directly wet the mucosal surface. Preparations with a high concentration of menthol, such as peppermint oil, can be applied to a handkerchief and held in front of the nose, according to the general practitioner. However, direct application to the skin is critical. Under no circumstances should “essential oils such as camphor and menthol be used on the face of infants and young children,” quotes Andreas Waltering from IQWiG. "This can lead to allergic reactions such as convulsions and respiratory arrest," Waltering continues.

After four days without improvement, a visit to the doctor is advisable. Despite home remedies, there is still no improvement in the cold after three to four days, those affected develop a high fever or they feel significantly worse, advises Peter Walger from the professional association of German internists, according to the "dpa" urgent to visit the doctor. Because even supposedly harmless respiratory infections can, under certain circumstances, turn into significantly more serious symptoms. Regarding the chicken broth as a standard home remedy for the common cold, the Stiftung Warentest also points out that its positive effect can be further improved by adding a piece of ginger root, some chilli and a handful of black beans. Overall, colds can only be treated with medication to a very limited extent, but the wide range of home remedies keeps numerous options open here. (fp)

Image: Erika Hartmann / pixelio.de

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