7 Homemade Alternatives to Controversial Over-the-Counter Cold Remedies

According to American Medical News, The Food and Drug Administration is considering recommending restrictions on over-the-counter cold medicines that contain dextromethorphan, a chemical that is present in more than 100 cold remedies and can cause euphoria and dysphoria. An increase in emergency room visits associated with recreational abuse of over-the-counter medications that contain this ingredient has prompted the FDA to consider making some cold medications available by prescription only. Luckily, all your cold symptoms can be treated just as well, if not better, with natural ingredients you most-likely already have in your kitchen. Read on for seven powerful, homemade cold remedies that will save you a trip to the drugstore and help you to fight the common cold safely and naturally:

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1. Salt Water Gargle
Can you believe simple table salt may be the answer to your seasonal-cold prayers? It's true! The dehydrating effects of salt pulls out the extra fluid in the throat that causes uncomfortable swelling while simultaneously killing bacteria. When gargled, salt breaks up phlegm and decreases inflammation that causes soreness. So next time you're throat is pestering you, add half a teaspoon of salt to an eight-ounce glass of warm water and gargle three times or until the entire glass is gone. It's not exactly pleasant but you'll feel instantly healthier and you can literally see your cold going down the drain when you spit.

2. Sinus-Clearing Vapor
Colds thrive in dry, cold conditions, which is why they are most common in the winter months. Inhaling steam helps hydrate your air passageways and gets the cold moving out of your body. While Vicks Vapor Rub does wonders in breaking up sinus congestion, you can easily make your own powerful minty concoction. Just boil mint, rosemary, and clove in a pot of water and breathe in the spicy vapor to instantly clear your sinuses. Spending time in steamy showers also helps to break up head and chest congestion. And for mild congestion, even just sucking on a mint can help clear up the sniffles temporarily.

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3. Cayenne Water
Cayenne pepper increases blood flow instantly which means the blood cells needed to fight off infection can get to their destination more quickly. Mixed with warm water, it's literally an instant savior to anyone with a severely sore throat. Just mix warm water with a ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper and gargle to temporarily soothe a sore throat and to give your immune system a kick.

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4. Fresh Chopped Garlic
Garlic is a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function, so ingesting it in its most natural form gives our natural defenses the boost it needs to fight the cold. At the first sign of the sniffles, chop up a clove of raw garlic and eat it with crackers. Your breath may be a bit harsh, but your body will thank you for it.

5. Homemade Cough Syrup

No need for over-the-counter cough syrup. All you need are three ingredients for a powerful, natural throat calmer: Lemon juice, which is a good source for vitamin C, a natural anti-bacterial, and full of antioxidants; honey, which is a natural energizer to help you fight fatigue; and warm water: Combine three tablespoons of lemon juice, one cup of honey, and a quarter cup of warm water and take a teaspoon at a time, as needed, to suppress a cough and soothe an achy throat. Note: This is not advised for babies, who are recommended to avoid honey.

6. Hot Toddy

Thanks to its combination of soporific alcohol and throat-soothing honey, this alcoholic drink wipes out that awful achy feeling and helps you sweat out a fever. To raise your glass (adults only, please!), combine one ounce of whiskey, rum, or brandy with one tablespoon of honey, three tablespoons of lemon, and your favorite tea (think chamomile or mint for the most soothing concoction).

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7. Chicken Soup

Parents have been spoon-feeding their sick children chicken soup for ages. Turns out that mothers' instinct was right! Scientists have now found that the health benefits aren't just a placebo effect. According to the Mayo Clinic, chicken soup has been shown to relieve congestion and inhibit inflammation as it speeds up the movement of mucous. For best results, make your own chicken soup by simmering the carcass of a chicken in water with vegetables such as onion, carrot, and celery, for at least 12 hours. The longer the pot is on the stove, the more the medicinal properties are drawn out of the bones.

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.

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