If you’re here, you’re probably feeling pretty crummy and desperate to find relief for your common cold symptoms. Having fatty liver disease won’t necessarily change your cold symptoms, though you want to ensure that you support your liver while also treating your cold. In this article, we’re cutting right to the chase to give you answers for how to relieve your cold symptoms and how to shorten a cold, while supporting your liver. Try out these tips so you can get back to feeling like yourself as quickly as possible!
What Is a Cold?
The common cold is a pesky virus that makes its way into your body through your airways- the nose and mouth. Once the virus enters your body, it infects your mucous membranes and lymph nodes in your head and neck. Your lymph nodes are small glands that are responsible for producing lymphocytes – the cells that fight off pathogens. Lymph nodes feel like tiny pebbles nestled in your neck muscles and swell when your body is fighting a virus.
The cold virus takes hold and causes a host of uncomfortable symptoms like headache, exhaustion, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and mild fever.
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent the common cold with vaccines or to treat your cold with a course of antiviral medication. Your immune system does all of the work to rid your body of the cold virus. As a result, shortening a cold depends on a combination of supporting your immune system and controlling symptoms.
The Immune System and Liver Are Related
Many of the nutrients helpful for immune system function also promote liver repair – and this is not a coincidence. The herbs and vitamins mentioned below play a role in detoxing the liver, supporting liver health, and even reversing damage associated with liver cirrhosis. The liver is vital for metabolizing the foods and nutrients we eat and converting them into useable forms. Moreover, the liver plays a role in regulating immune response. A well-functioning liver helps streamline your immune response, so your body can identify and tackle invading pathogens more quickly.
How Long Does It Take to Get Over a Cold?
The duration of a cold depends in part on the nature of the cold virus. A weaker virus is less taxing on your body and requires less time for your body to recognize and fight it off within a matter of days. On the other hand, a more aggressive cold virus will be challenging for your immune system to disable, which can lead to those relentless colds that seem to drag on for weeks.
Aside from the kind of virus, a cold’s duration is mainly influenced by how well you take care of yourself during the period of infection. If you are fighting an aggressive virus without any medicines or natural remedies, how long can a cold last? In this scenario, a cold could last several weeks before turning into an even worse upper respiratory tract infection.
If your liver function is compromised, it may take your body longer to fight off a cold.
How to Get Rid of a Cold Fast
These 12 tips suggest excellent ways to help your immune system fight off the common cold while also supporting your liver and diet. If you’re sick with the common cold, here are the top 12 tips for how to get over a cold fast:
Elderberry has been gaining popularity as a natural cold remedy. But does it actually work? According to the research, it does. A study conducted by researchers at Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology in Australia has shown that consuming elderberry led to a shorter duration of the common cold for air passengers. Researchers administered elderberry supplements to the experimental group, while the control group received a placebo. Interestingly, the group receiving elderberry supplements reported milder symptoms, and their cold resolved on average two days sooner, in comparison to the control group. (1)
What is elderberry, and how does it work? Elderberries are round, dark purple -almost blackberries that grow on the Sambucus plant. They are rich in polyphenols like anthocyanins, which give elderberries their characteristic color. These compounds exhibit potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which means that they protect the tissues throughout your body from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress describes the buildup of waste and free radicals in your cells, causing all biological processes to function slowly and less effectively. You can find elderberry as a supplement, in the form of capsules, lozenges, or liquid.
2. Season with Garlic
Most of us are familiar with garlic as the pungent, aromatic seasoning that’s commonly used in many cuisines. But did you know that garlic is also used in natural remedies to treat a variety of infections? The antimicrobial activity of garlic is well studied, with research revealing allicin as the active antimicrobial ingredient. Allicin has been shown to fight against many types of microorganisms, including parasites, bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
To fully harness the benefits of garlic, try mincing or chopping it before adding it to your favorite soups, pasta dishes, vegetable dishes, and stir-fries. Cutting up garlic and allowing it to sit for a few minutes before using it allows for healing compounds to reach a higher therapeutic potential.
Another way to consume garlic – though it may unusual – is to make it into a tea. Try combining honey and chopped or slice garlic before stirring it into a mug of hot water. The hot water will help clear and moisturize your sinuses, the honey will soothe your throat, and the garlic will directly fight against the cold virus. Don’t worry; the garlic won’t overpower the tea! The pungent taste we usually associate with raw garlic is neutralized with heat and balanced with the honey.
3. Drink a Cup of Green Tea Every Day
Green tea is revered as a healing herb and has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. Green tea is filled with polyphenols like epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which function as powerful antioxidants that help your immune system work efficiently. EGCG also enhances the activity of natural killer cells in your immune system, which are responsible for preventing the spread of viral infections in your body. Moreover, research shows that EGCG in green tea may play a role in treating the common cold and influenza by preventing the entry of viruses into healthy cells. (3)
Try incorporating a hot cup of green tea into your morning routine. Most green teas naturally contain some caffeine, which can give you a boost of energy when you’re run down with a cold. Additionally, drinking the tea hot will soothe your throat while allowing steam to rise through your nasal passages. This mechanism functions as a small-scale humidifier for your mucous membranes, which can help prevent bacterial infection.
4. Get Plenty of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is crucial for immune function, acts as an antioxidant, and increases your body’s ability to heal wounds and fight off infections. Vitamin C is found in a variety of foods, for example, sweet potato, broccoli, kiwi, kale, and citrus fruits.
Try out this trick to incorporate even more vitamin C into your diet: eat the peels of lemons and oranges, and not just the inside. The peels contain significantly more vitamin C than the inner fruit alone. To make the peels more palatable, try throwing an entire lemon or orange into the blender with water, ice cubes, and honey. Blend until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. This cool, refreshing drink can soothe your throat while providing a boatload of vitamin C to fortify your immune system.
Pairing vitamin C with zinc and echinacea can add additional cold-fighting elements to strengthen your immune system.
5. Do Regular Rinses for Your Throat and Sinuses
Microorganisms are highly sensitive to salty environments, and high salinity stifles the growth of bacteria, viruses, and other living organisms. The same concept applies to the common cold virus. Salt especially inhibits the growth of viruses in your sinuses and throat. Salt can be introduced to these areas using rinses.
Sinus rinses should be carefully formulated so as not to irritate the delicate membrane of your nasal passages. You can get a sinus kit rinse at your local pharmacy. A sinus rinse is beneficial because it irrigates your nasal passages and sinuses with saline, and simultaneously rinses out excess mucus and viral particles. Fewer viral particles makes it more difficult for the cold virus to take hold and persist while making it easier for your immune system to clear the cold. Sinus rinses also help flush out any bacteria that mucus may be harboring. If your cold causes severe congestion that endures for a longer period of time, this increases the chances of bacteria growing in accumulated mucus. This, in turn, can lead a sinus infection and other respiratory infections, which usually require antibiotics to recover.
To prevent a bacterial infection on top of a viral infection, incorporate daily sinus rinses into your routine.
On the other hand, throat rinses – also called saltwater gargling – can be prepared right at home. Try heating up a mug of warm water and add a teaspoon of salt. Continue stirring until the salt appears to be dissolved, and before gargling, wait until the solution has cooled to a tolerable temperature to prevent burning. Gargle with mouthfuls of saltwater until you’ve used it all up. Be sure not to swallow the saltwater!
6. Take Over-the-Counter Medications for Symptoms
Decongestants, fever relievers, pain relievers, and cough suppressants help control your symptoms, so you can carry on with daily life as much as possible. Ibuprofen helps relieve pain associated with the common cold, like fevers and headaches. Menthol and zinc lozenges can help relieve a sore throat, and added ingredients like vitamin C, zinc, and honey can help your immune system fight off viruses. Nasal sprays are also available over the counter and often contain decongestants and zinc.
7. Limit Dairy, Refined Carbohydrates, Sugars, and Processed Foods
Dairy is delicious and is a tasty part of a variety of foods. When you have a cold, however, dairy products are not the best foods to be eating. However, the reason isn’t that dairy causes you to produce more mucus, as commonly believed. Recent studies suggest that this may actually be a myth. The reason for avoiding dairy during a cold is simply because ingesting dairy products causes the production of trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) in your digestive system.
TMAO may lead to systemic inflammation, a state that means your immune system is aggravated and chronically activated. This kind of inflammation expends the immune system’s resources and may cause the immune system to function less efficiently, leading to an enduring cold. So, to increase your chances of shortening your cold, stay away from milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and other foods containing dairy.
Avoiding refined carbohydrates, sugars, and processed foods also helps calm inflammation. Refined carbohydrates include any grains that have been processed to remove most nutritional value, like white rice and white bread. Your body handles these refined carbs like sugar, instantly spiking your blood sugar and contributing to inflammation. Processed foods include anything in packages. Not only do these foods contain loads of refined carbohydrates and sugars, but also lots of chemicals and preservatives.
8. Eat Protein-Rich Foods
Monitoring protein intake is often a suggestion reserved for athletes. Protein is critical for facilitating all biological processes, including those associated with immune function. On a basic molecular level, the proteins in our body are comprised of amino acids. Amino acids are strung together in different orders and arrangements to create proteins with a variety of functions. The body utilizes amino acids to synthesize muscle tissue, heal wounds, build neurotransmitters that regulate mood, and fight off infections.
Our bodies can synthesize some amino acids on their own while requiring other amino acids to be consumed through our diet. The amino acids that we must get through the foods we eat are described as “essential,” because our bodies are unable to produce them. The essential amino acids are histidine, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, and phenylalanine.
Unprocessed and low-fat meats contain all essential amino acids in optimal ratios, as does soy protein. In order to get adequate amounts of essential amino acids from plant foods, make sure you eat a variety of foods like beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Regardless of your source of essential amino acids, make sure to consume enough to power your immune system as it fights against a cold.
9. Stay Hydrated
Remember, more than half of your body is made of water. Without adequate water intake, your cellular processes become more sluggish and aren’t able to operate as smoothly. Water is also necessary to flush out the lymphatic system, which delivers immune cells to all tissues.
Dehydration causes blood flow to decrease and your kidneys have difficulty filtering your blood and balancing electrolytes. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your cells fresh as they fight off the invading virus.
Getting adequate sleep is vital for allowing your immune system to operate at full capacity. However, when you have a cold, it can be tricky to get enough sleep. A persistently sore throat, coughing fits, and the inability to breathe through your nose can cause discomfort that impedes the quality sleep you need. Here are a few tips for getting the best sleep when you have a cold:
- Take the “nighttime” version of over-the-counter medicine: A “nighttime” or “pm” version of most decongestants, pain relievers, and other cold medicines is available at your local pharmacy. These medicines contain a compound that makes you drowsy and helps you get a better night of sleep while you fight off the cold.
- Sleep with your head elevated: Try propping up pillows to support your head, neck, and upper back. Elevating your head allows for mucus to drain more readily. This helps prevent excessive congestion and relieve pressure from building up in the sinuses.
- Take a tablespoon of honey before bed: The sticky texture of honey helps coat your throat and soothe pain. Honey may even have antimicrobial properties stemming from the presence of specific enzymes that make hydrogen peroxide. (4) Natural, unprocessed, and organic honey retains more of these enzymes.
11. Use Some Wasabi as a Condiment
Wasabi is widely known as a dollop of spicy paste often served with sushi. Think about the reaction your body has when you eat wasabi. The extreme spiciness causes your face to flush and your nose to run, effectively clearing your sinuses temporarily. Interestingly, research shows that wasabi may also exhibit antimicrobial properties. (5)
So, if you need a quick relief from your congestion, try adding wasabi to your food. And remember – a little goes a long way.
12. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is a herb well known for its therapeutic effects on the liver. One of its other possible benefits is strengthening the immune system and fighting against pathogens. Research shows that milk thistle may exhibit antimicrobial activity, especially against bacteria. (6) Milk thistle may help prevent the development of complications of the common cold, such as bacterial sinus infections. This healing plant can be consumed as a capsule or in the form of tea.
Look for Signs of a Retreating Cold
Supporting your immune system is bound to help your body fight off a cold more quickly. But during the early stages, if you’re still fighting bothersome symptoms, clues that your cold is improving may be easy to miss.
Here are a few signs your cold is getting better:
- You sound more like yourself. Chances are, at the peak of infection, your voice was raspy and lower than normal. If your voice is returning to normal, the cold is
- You can breathe through your nose sometimes. If it’s becoming easier to breathe through your nose, this is a sure sign that congestion is clearing and you are on the mend.
- You have more energy. This is perhaps one of the most telling signs. During the most severe symptoms, you likely struggled with fatigue, which is a sign that your body is channeling all of its energy towards warding off an unwelcome microorganism. As a cold begins to clear, your immune system requires less energy to manage the cold virus, leaving more energy left over to use for other systems. In sum, an increase in energy signifies that your immune system is winning the fight against the cold virus, and your body is returning to a healthy state.
Certain herbal supplements and medicines may not be ideal if you have fatty liver disease or other liver conditions.
St. John’s Wort is a popular herb that is used in many natural remedies for depression and other ailments. Science also shows that another use for this healing herb may be fighting against common viral infections. Even though St. John’s wort may be useful for colds -a study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology found that St. John’s Wort significantly reduced activity in the bronchitis virus- this herb may be harmful for the liver. (2)
Keep in mind, St. John’s Wort may change the way your liver breaks down medications and other substances. It’s best to avoid this supplement, especially if you have fatty liver disease or other forms of liver disease. Always talk to your doctor before adding any supplement to your regimen, to make sure it works well with your diet and supplement plan.
Additionally, some over-the-counter medications may be hard on the liver. For example, Tylenol is a common pain reliever that includes the active ingredient acetaminophen. Acetaminophen, when taken in excess, can cause liver scarring and damage.
Things to Keep in Mind
Many supplements are safe and highly beneficial for your health when taken as directed. However, it’s important to ensure that you are using a high-quality supplement. Before you add supplements to your regimen, consult your doctor to make sure that your supplements support your health and don’t interact with any medications you may be taking.
Though having fatty liver disease won’t change your cold symptoms, it could potentially play a role in prolonging the viral infection. However, the good news is that when you have a cold, you don’t have to resign yourself to whatever course the virus decides to take. Strengthening your immune system with healthy foods and nutrients like antioxidants and vitamin C will help your body fight off a virus and shorten the duration of a cold. Plus, nutrients and foods like vitamin C, green tea, milk thistle, amino acids, garlic, and even wasabi support liver health. Following these steps at the first sign of a cold will help ward off a virus while you combat fatty liver disease, allowing the cold duration to be shorter than if you had allowed the virus to run its course.