10 Cold and Flu Remedies That Really Work

From Grandma's chicken soup to hot chile peppers, these treatments can help.
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  • Aches. Sniffles. Fever. Cold and flu season is in full swing. When you’re sick, you just want to feel better in a hurry. There’s no cure for a cold or flu, but we’ve got 10 home remedies that can help, from chicken soup (your grandma was right!) to hot chile peppers. Not sure if you have a cold or the flu? Take this quiz.

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
  • Hot Tea with Honey and Lemon
    Hot Tea with Honey and Lemon

    Hot Tea with Honey and Lemon

    When you're sick with a cold or the flu, drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated, and make sure they're hot. Black tea helps soothe a sore throat and chase away the chills with a good dose of virus-fighting interferon. Add a dollop of antioxidant-rich honey and a squeeze of lemon for vitamin C. Take our quiz to learn more ways tea can boost your health.

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
  • Orange Juice
    Orange Juice

    Orange Juice

    Crave orange juice when you’re sick? It’s full of vitamin C, which may help shorten a cold's duration of and work as a natural decongestant. Aim for 500 mg of vitamin C four times a day. A cup of OJ has 124 mg. Other good sources of vitamin C include strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli. (More ways vitamin C is a health-saver.)

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
  • Hot Peppers
    Hot Peppers

    Hot Peppers

    Hot chili peppers contain capsaicin, the compound that gives them their kick and acts as a decongestant to help relieve a stuffy nose. Can't stand the heat? Mild bell peppers can help, too. They don’t have capsaicin, but they’re full of vitamin C.

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
  • Chicken Soup
    Chicken Soup

    Chicken Soup

    Grandma was right -- a bowl of chicken soup does make you feel better when you're sick. This time-tested remedy contains cysteine, an amino acid that's chemically similar to a bronchitis drug to help reduce inflammation. The salty broth also helps thin mucus, and the protein in the chicken helps you produce disease-fighting antibodies. 

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
  • Garlic and Ginger
    Garlic and Ginger

    Garlic and Ginger

    Both garlic and ginger can offer potent cold and flu relief. Garlic helps bolster your immune system to squelch an infection, while ginger helps tame nausea. Add a little ginger and garlic to your chicken soup to boost its cold- and flu-fighting power. (Here's how ginger can help soothe pain, too.)

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
  • Steam
    Steam

    Steam

    There's a reason why you feel better after taking a hot shower -- or sit over a bowl of steaming water with a towel draped over your head. The steam shrinks the mucus membranes in your nose and throat, and encourages mucus to drain, which helps ease a stuffy nose and congestion in your chest. 

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
  • Neti Pot
    Neti Pot

    Neti Pot

    A neti pot looks like a genie's lamp that can perform some sinus-clearing magic. Fill it with warm saltwater (use noniodized salt). Then stand over a sink, tilt your head to one side, and slowly pour the liquid through one nostril and allow it to stream out the other -- along with a lot of gunk that's causing congestion. (Here's how rinsing your sinuses helps tame allergies, too.)

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
  • Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen
    Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen

    Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen

    Fighting a fever with that flu? Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help bring it down safely. If your fever stays above 103 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours (especially in children), contact your doctor. Take this test to find out which pain reliever is best for you.

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
  • Oatmeal
    Oatmeal

    Oatmeal

    Whole grains, like oatmeal, contain selenium, zinc, and beta glucan to help support your immune system and fend off cold and flu infections. Add a generous dollop of yogurt -- its probiotics may help keep a virus from settling into your respiratory system. (Learn more about another remarkable benefit of oatmeal.)

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
  • Nasal Decongestant Spray
    Nasal Decongestant Spray

    Nasal Decongestant Spray

    A nasal spray can help ease congestion. But don't overdo it. Using a nasal decongestant spray for more than three days can cause a rebound effect with even worse congestion.  

    Helpful? 12 people found this helpful.
10 Cold and Flu Remedies That Really Work