Health

6 Quick and Inexpensive Fixes for Those Pesky Winter Colds

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This time of year always seems to bring about winter colds, aches, and pains. Luckily, there are plenty of natural remedies you can easily get to make those issues go away.

Head out for some fresh air.

Feeling achy and sore is common right now since the brain’s production of painkilling serotonin drops during winter. But Stanford University researchers say a remedy our grandparents called ″taking the air″ (that is, heading outdoors) boosts serotonin production for 85 percent of women, effectively easing pain.

Adds Matt Numans, MD, it doesn’t take long for serotonin production to rise once you’re exposed to fresh air, so many people feel better within 15 minutes of stepping outside.

Try an allergy remedy.

An antihistamine our grandmas took for allergies called doxylamine had annoying side effects; it made them foggy and unfocused if they took it during the day. Thankfully, our elders turned that bother into a benefit: ending insomnia by taking the med at bedtime!

Doxylamine is still found in some over-the-counter cold remedies, but it’s now available on its own in Unisom Sleep Tabs (Buy on Amazon, $10.99). Take 10 to 15 milligrams nightly (just half a tablet), and you could drift off 20 minutes faster and cut middle-of-the-night awakenings by 50 percent.

Sip on a hot toddy.

Sipping grandpa’s hot toddy can speed your cold recovery by 40 percent, say Cornell University researchers. How? Honey quells coughing as effectively as over-the-counter meds, lemon juice thins mucus so it’s easier to expel, and whiskey helps you drift off for a more healing sleep.

More good news: Canadian scientists say tea’s polyphenols keep immune cells calm when they’re fighting infections like Covid, lowering the production of symptom-triggering compounds. To create it: Stir one and a half ounces of whiskey, one tablespoon of honey, and a splash of lemon juice into a large mug of tea.

Grab a classic cold rub.

Our grandmothers were onto something using Vicks (Buy on Amazon, $4.79) to treat colds and headaches. A study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice suggests massaging this ointment into your temples and the back of your neck can quash a headache as quickly as over-the-counter painkillers.

Study authors credit the rub’s menthol, which relaxes blood vessels and tight muscles and calms overactive pain nerves.

Try Tums.

Tums became available for heartburn in 1930, and soon folks discovered another perk: soothing canker sores and fast-tracking healing. Tums’ active ingredient, calcium carbonate, quickly neutralizes tissue-irritating acids before they can soak into the mouth’s lining.

British researchers say letting a tablet slowly dissolve in your mouth can instantly ease pain and reduce redness and inflammation in as little as 12 hours, plus speed healing if you do it four times daily.

Pull out the petroleum jelly.

When harsh weather made their skin itch and crack, our grandmothers didn’t have a host of medicated creams—and they didn’t need them!

Australian researchers say their go-to petroleum jelly is so effective at locking in moisture, blocking bacterial growth and encouraging formation of new skin cells that it can soothe irritation in 20 minutes, plus cut the risk of itching or dryness by 60 percent if you dab it on sensitive areas twice daily.

This article first appeared in our print magazine.

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