Since ancient times, home remedies have been used to treat a wide variety of illnesses. Now, with the high cost of hospital bills and prescription medications, more people are turning to alternative ways to treat many ailments, including cold, cough and sore throat.
Colds, coughs, and sore throats are common ailments which can be quite miserable. Although expensive over-the-counter remedies often have little effect on the symptoms which accompany these conditions, many natural remedies can usually provide relief.
Gargling with salty water is one of the oldest home remedies for colds and flu. This has been used for centuries as the first line of treatment for infections that come with colder weather. In a study published in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2005, researchers recruited 400 volunteers and asked half of them to gargle three times a day during colds and flu season.
The gargling group got 40 per cent fewer cases of colds and flu, and even when they did, they reported easier breathing and faster recovery than those who did not gargle. Although the participants in this study gargle with a few drops of tincture of iodine rather than salt water, the idea that salt water might be a superior gargle has been confirmed by organisations such as the Mayo Clinic.
Mayo Clinic recommendation that between one and two teaspoons of table salt should be dissolved in 240 ml of warm water to give fast, temporary relief of sore throat caused by everyday upper respiratory infections.
Adding a squeeze of lemon juice to salt water and using this to gargle may also be helpful. The lemon juice contains a small amount of vitamin C. It also contains a larger amount of quercetin, a plant antioxidant that prevents the release of histamine when allergies accompany colds.
Another household remedy that can be very helpful in overcoming sore throat is mango barks. Mango bark helps to soothe a sore throat as well as other similar illnesses. You need to extract the fluid of the bark which is then ground, and applied to the throat. Ground bark can also be used to gargle by stirring 10 ml of the mixture into 125 ml of water.
In addition, garlic is also known to relieve sore throat as it is a natural antiseptic. It can be eaten as well as consumed in a tea. A United Kingdom study found that a daily garlic supplement containing allicin, a purified component of garlic considered to be the major biologically active agent produced by the plant, reduced the risk of catching a cold by more than half.
What is more, bitter kola is often used to treat the symptoms of colds in many communities, including Cameroun.
It is particularly very effective for coughs, bronchitis, nasal congestions and to coagulate phlegm. It is also effective in alleviating sore throat. Cameroonian researchers reported in the 2002 edition of the East African Medical Journal that ginger and bitter kola extracts could be better options to some of the antibiotics commonly used for respiratory tract infections.
Sometimes, sore throat is a sign that the immune system is weak. Taking vitamin C can help to boost the immune system. It can be done either by taking a vitamin C supplement or by supplementing the body by drinking fresh orange juice daily.
But with colds and flu, a good home remedy is honey. Honey contains naturally occurring antibacterial agents that can also help to ward off other infections that so often follow colds. It can also help children fight coughs.
Bulbs of red onion, commonly called yabasi in Igbo or alubosa in Yoruba, according to a study can serve as a stimulant and expectorant. Generally antimicrobial, it’s juice is mixed with honey in the treatment of asthma, cough, cold convulsion and hypotension.