Saturday, January 25, 2014

You've Got A Cold, Now What?

Reposted from Life Extension

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez, RN

No one likes having a cold. It can make you feel achy, congested, sleepy, and just plain miserable. But wouldn’t knowing that you could shorten your misery make it more tolerable?

If you’ve read our previous blogs, you’ll know we always emphasize the importance of cold prevention. But in our imperfect world, even the most vigorous of nutrition enthusiasts and supplement takers still get sick … once in a while.

So we’ve done a little investigative work and came up with several ways to help you bounce back to your healthy self in no time.

Why? Because we don’t want you to suffer any longer than you have to, and we’re pretty sure that you don’t want to either.

The Basics of Cold Busting: Rest and Fluids

When trying to stop a cold in its tracks, getting enough fluids and rest should be a top priority.

Drinking fluids helps to loosen mucus and prevent dehydration, which is more likely when you have a cold. A cold may also come along with a fever, which can also decrease your fluid stores.

Rest provides the energy your body needs to fight illness. Pretty straightforward, right?

As such, hitting the gym while you’re sick can actually lower your defenses. So do yourself a favor and stay at home when you’re sick. You have our full permission!

Enhance Your Sleep and Immune System with Melatonin

Sleep recharges your immune system. But let’s be honest. It can sometimes be hard to sleep when you’re ill. Luckily, there are safe aids like melatonin that can help with that.

Not only does melatonin help you sleep,1 it also offers immune-boosting effects. Studies show it activates several members of the immune system, including T-cells and natural killer cells,2 which play crucial roles in warding off pathogens.

To optimize the immune-boosting effects of melatonin while you’re sick, higher dosages such as 3 mg/day are typically suggested.

Fight Nasal Congestion with Bromelain, Saline Nasal Rinses, and NAC

Perhaps one of the most annoying symptoms of the cold is nasal congestion. It makes breathing and even sleeping difficult.

But before you reach for those over-the-counter decongestants, please think twice. Some of them increase your blood pressure and can cause a rebound effect, making you even more stuffed-up than before.

If you want to go the safe, natural route, consider these options:

1. Bromelain

Bromelain, a mixture of enzymes found in the pineapple stem3, has been clinically shown to ease nasal and sinus inflammation. In a clinical trial, 85% of people with sinusitis showed complete resolution of the inflammation in the nasal mucosa while taking it.4

Bromelain is also effective at thinning nasal secretions and inhibiting inflammatory compounds that can make cold symptoms worse.

For optimal results, try an enteric-coated version on an empty stomach.

2. Sterile saline rinse, 3% concentration

One of the best ways to decongest is by irrigating your nose with sterile saline. It flushes out mucus and reduces histamine, a chemical that seriously increases mucus production, in your nasal tract.5
Consider a 3% sterile saline solution. It may sting a little, but the salt helps pull water out of your nasal passages, keeping down inflammation. This often provides quick relief.

3. NAC

NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) is an underestimated but powerful antioxidant. A derivative of the amino acid cysteine, NAC boosts internal defenses in several ways. It inhibits viral replication and reduces inflammation6 — two factors that are essential while battling a cold.

NAC is no stranger to conventional medicine. Doctors actually administer it to cystic fibrosis patients to help thin out mucus. So if you need to decongest yourself, give it a shot.

Shorten and Alleviate Cold Symptoms with Proven Nutrients

To date, we don’t have a cure for the common cold, nor is there a medication that will shorten its duration.

Fortunately, Mother Nature has a few tricks up her sleeve, which can be very helpful in diminishing your symptoms.

The following ingredients have been clinically shown to shorten the duration or alleviate the symptoms of a respiratory infection. Take your pick, as we’ve included several to choose from:

  • Garlic (Standardized to contain allicin)7
  • Probiotics (Look for Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains)8
  • NAC9
  • Vitamin C10
  • Zinc gluconate10
Consider taking any of these (or a combination of them) until you feel like yourself again. Hopefully that will be sooner than later!

The Bottom Line:

Ideally, you want to take measures to prevent the common cold, but even the healthiest people catch a cold once in a while. So, if you find yourself sniffling and sneezing, give these suggestions a try!

Have any of these (or any other) natural remedies worked for you? Please share your experiences in the comments.


  1. Curr Med Res Opin. 2011 Jan;27(1):87-98.
  2. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2007 Dec;58 Suppl 6:115-24.
  3. Clin Immunol. 2008 Jul;128(1):66-74.
  4. Altern Med Rev. 2006 Sep;11(3):196-207.
  5. Chest. 1994 Nov;106(5):1487-92.
  6. Biochem Pharmacol. Feb 1;79(3):413-20.
  7. Adv Ther. 2001 Jul-Aug;18(4):189-93.
  8. Pediatr Int. 2012 Oct;54(5):682-7.
  9. Eur Respir J. 1997 Jul;10(7):1535-41.
  10. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Mar;12(1):25-48.