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4 Ways to Banish Pesky Cold Symptoms — Fast


It may be “just a cold,” but sniffling and sneezing can drag on for 10 days, sapping the fun out of Thanksgiving get-togethers. The good news: Experts say study-backed remedies heighten your body’s defenses faster and more effectively than cold medications, taming symptoms in two minutes and cutting recovery time by 57 percent. 

Chocolate calms a cough.

A virus-triggered cough can hang in for two weeks after other symptoms disappear. Happily, studies show that dark chocolate conquers hacking fits 33 percent more effectively than prescription remedies — quelling a cough within two minutes and for up to six hours. Joseph C. Maroon, MD, explains that a compound in cocoa (theobromine) calms the irritated nerves that trigger coughing fits. The dose: one ounce, or six dark Hershey’s Kisses.

Mail-runs clear congestion.

A 10-minute walk to the post office can open your sinuses more quickly and effectively than Sudafed, say University of North Carolina researchers. And daily jaunts will cut the length of time your ill by 57 percent! Moving in cold air prompts the release of adrenaline, a hormone that reduces sinus swelling, plus heightens the production of virus-killing cells.

Garlic dip speeds recovery.

Dipping into hummus spiked with one or two cloves of garlic each day can cut your recovery time by 35 percent, plus halve your risk of getting another cold, Canadian researchers say. 

Garlic’s rich stores of immunity-boosting sulfur compounds block the growth and spread of invading germs. Tip: To activate garlic’s sulfur compounds — making them more powerful — let chopped garlic rest for 10 minutes before adding it to recipes.

Steamy soaks end aches.

Rhinoviruses are so sensitive to temperature changes that even a 20-minute steamy bath helps kill them off, cutting your recovery time in half if you enjoy daily soaks, says Jordan S. Josephson, MD. Bonus: UCLA researchers say a hot bath makes virus-triggered stiffness plunge by 65 percent in just 10 minutes.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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