According to Stephenson, a conventional doctor likely would recommend the combo of saline nasal spray, Sudafed, and Benadryl, to keep a cold from becoming a secondary infection. But as Stephenson says, there is potential for unpleasant side effects—short-term and potentially long-term—with taking these drugs, and you can get the same or similar results from more natural remedies.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to load up on over-the-counter pharmaceuticals to keep cold symptoms at bay and to help a cold resolve sooner,” Stephenson says.
Instead, you can get a head start on cold season by adding the right supplements to your routine from the get-go. Stephenson notes that you always want to supplement with vitamins D and C, not just when symptoms appear. “These immune-supporting supplements can help your body fight off a virus naturally,” she tells mbg.
Stephenson also notes that consistently eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables will supply you (and your immune system) with a full spectrum of nutrients to support your body in fighting off viruses before they turn into infections.
And in terms of what she recommends when symptoms do appear, she can get behind the saline spray (which she says will help with uncomfortable congestion that can turn into a throat or ear infection), as well as upping your vitamin C and zinc intake. Of course, you’ll also want to test for COVID-19 to rule out that possibility and keep you and your community members safe.
Additionally, she recommends “drinking warm green tea with a squeeze of lemon (more vitamin C) and a spoonful of raw honey (a natural cough suppressant),” and taking some melatonin and/or magnesium glycinate in the evenings to help with sleep.
Get some sunshine outdoors if you can safely do so, and be sure to drink a lot of water—not juice, she adds. “Eat soup, whole citrus fruit, and berries when you feel hungry, and sleep more than usual. In other words: Take care of yourself, and your body will take care of your cold virus,” Stephenson says.