We’ve all experienced how annoying a constant runny nose can be. While the causes of a runny nose can vary, one of the most common reasons for the sniffles is a bacterial or viral infection, such as the flu or common cold.
The reason your nose gets runny at the onset of a cold is due to your body attempting to block and/or flush out the bacteria or virus. Normally, your body produces mucus in your nose to keep your airways moist. However, when an invader (the cold bug) tries to get in, the body ramps up mucus production as a defense and purging mechanism.
However beneficial this may be, dealing with a runny nose can be tiresome. So before the used tissues start taking over your desk and your bed, try out a few of these natural remedies to get rid of your runny nose fast.
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7 Natural Runny Nose Remedies
Keep in mind that many of these remedies include natural decongestants and antibacterial compounds, which help flush out your nasal passages and kill bacteria and viruses. This might cause more mucus to come out of your nose immediately after using them (so blow away!) but will ultimately alleviate your runny nose afterwards.
1. Saline Rinse
Using salt water to clear your nasal passages is probably one of the easiest and cheapest ways to stop a runny nose in its tracks. Studies show that participants who used saline irrigation during a cold experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, including nasal secretions, sore throat, nasal breathing score and nasal obstruction, as well as reduced use of additional nasal decongestant medications (1).
In addition to providing immediate relief from a runny nose, salt has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help kill the microbes responsible for your sniffles in the first place (2).
To make a saline rinse, mix ½ teaspoon of sea salt with 2 cups of warm water until dissolved. Use a dropper to add the salt solution to the inside of your nostrils, keeping your head tilted back while breathing very slowly. Now tilt your head back down and blow your nose.
Repeat this a couple times a day until your mucus has lessened significantly.
2. Steam Bath
Inhaling steam helps break down and remove the excess mucus from your nasal passages that are causing your runny nose. Adding an antimicrobial essential oil like thyme, peppermint, or eucalyptus can also help kill cold bugs, while aiding in mucus removal. Several of the essential oils contain compounds like menthol and thymol, which act as powerful decongestants (3).
To prepare a steam bath, heat a cup or two of water in a pot until it begins to steam (but is not boiling). Add in a couple drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, or thyme essential oil. Grab a towel, drape it over your head, and lean into the steam, inhaling deeply. Stay here for 7 to 10 minutes, then blow your nose. Repeat a few times a day.
3. Hot Drinks
Simply drinking hot water can help ease cold symptoms such as a runny nose. Studies found that hot drinks provided immediate relief to many symptoms and provided lasting relief (4). Researchers believe this may be due to hot water’s ability to flush out and break down excess mucus.
4. Mustard Oil
In Ayurveda, mustard oil is traditionally used to treat sinus problems where it helps break up mucus. Research has shown that mustard oil is also a strong antibacterial, defeating even the most resistant pathogens such as E. Coli (6).
To use mustard oil, warm a small amount in a pan until lukewarm. Using a dropper, add a couple drops to each nostril with your head tilted back. Let it sit for a moment, then blow your nose. Repeat this once or twice a day.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of cold symptoms. Modern research backs up the age-old claims of its effectiveness, showing that ginger is an effective remedy against the human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV). Ginger can help stop the virus from attaching to cells, which could prevent symptoms such as a runny nose before they occur (7).
According to research, fresh ginger is best for cold symptoms. If you can’t handle the taste of chewing on a fresh piece, however, try taking some with a little raw honey, or grating it on your food. In addition, you can also make a ginger tea by cutting a few pieces of ginger into slices and steeping it in hot water for 10 minutes.
Garlic is a superstar when it comes to fighting off the bugs that bring about runny noses. It has potent antibacterial and antiviral properties that come from its main compound, allicin. Studies have shown that participants who consume garlic catch fewer colds than those who don’t and also have shortened colds if they do get them (8).
To use garlic in your arsenal against a runny nose, try getting in at least one clove per day. Always be sure to crush and/or slice the clove before you eat it and let it sit for 5 minutes to activate the allicin.
You can eat garlic raw in a soup or salad, or if the taste is too much, either cook it or take it in capsule form.
7. Licorice Root
Licorice root’s active component, glycyrrhizin, contains properties that help break down excess mucus, which can shorten the duration of your runny nose (9). In addition, licorice root is also antiviral, antibacterial, and contains numerous antioxidants to support your immune system (10).
You can prepare licorice root as a tea (in this way you’ll get the decongestant benefits of a hot drink as well), or take it in capsule form.
As you can see, managing a runny nose requires remedies that are often already in your kitchen. In addition to trying these, make sure you drink plenty of water to flush out excess mucus faster. Before you know it, you’ll be breathing a sigh of relief, without the mucus.
(Read This Next: 5 Ways to Heal Your Gut After Taking Antibiotics)
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