**As of 6/17/09 the FDA warned consumers to stop using Zicam, a popular homeopathic cold remedy, because it could damage or destroy their sense of smell. Click here to read more.
Here's my research-backed 4 step method to knock out a cold!
TIP: You must do this as soon as you get that funny, scratchy feeling at the back of your nose or throat. If you delay a day results will be spotty.
1. Rinse your nose with SinuCleanse - If you have the discipline, rinsing daily may prevent the start of a cold, and ease allergy symptoms. For many people, it's as necessary as brushing their teeth.
2. Apply Zicam nasal gel in your nostrils after your SinuCleanse rinse. Be prepared. I keep one in my purse.
3. Wash your hands alot, and always before eating or touching your face. Keep some anti-bacterial gel or wipes handy for when you can't wash.
I've been following parts of this routine for a number of years, and through trial and error I've finally come up with this 4-pronged method that works. I've tried Vitamin C, echinacea, and Coldeeze Zinc lozenges, but the results were not consistent enough.
Here's what I've discovered:
1. I first heard about the use of nasal cleansing/irrigation about 10 years ago from a 92 year old retired physician. He began using the practice daily in his sixties & claimed he hadn't suffered a cold or viral illness since then. His only hope was that the word would get out.
Then, 3 years ago on a medical mission to Honduras, I met a priest who had been using the Indian neti pot to cleanse his nose daily for the past 5 years. He taught in a high school and he was always getting sick, but hadn't had a cold since he started with the neti. He happily demonstrated the procedure to me, while everyone else present quickly ran out the door. The doctors & nurses on the mission thought the whole thing was a bunch of hogwash, but as soon as I returned home I checked it out on PUBMED & sure enough I found medical evidence for the practice.
That's how I discovered the handy plastic SinuCleanse product 3 years ago. At the time, I had to look far and wide to find it in a drugstore. I've been using it ever since. I'm not disciplined enough to do it daily, but I always use it when I feel like I'm getting a cold. And I always travel with it!
2. SinuCleanse nasal rinsing is based on an ancient Yogic and Ayurvedic practice that has an anti-inflammatory effect on the nasal passages; flushes the nose of mucous, allergens & irritants; and provides a healthy environment for the tiny nose hairs to remove germs from the nose. The nose is really the first line of defense in keeping those germs out of your body. There have been a number of randomized controlled studies to prove that this method is safe, effective and low cost.
For simple instructions on how to "cleanse your nose" see the Annals of Family Medicine. Also, check out the most recent study to confirm the nasal wash practice in the press release for the January 2008 article appearing in the Archives of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery. Even the gold standard Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews gave a thumbs up to nasal saline irrigation in June 2007.
My Tip: Make your own saline solution to cleanse your nose with 1 cup warm water, mixed with 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, & 1/4 tsp. baking soda. Use 1/2 cup to rinse each nostril. Have a tissue handy to catch the "run-off". It does take practice, and if your cold has already started you might feel the uncomfortable pressure of getting water in your nose while swimming. Don't worry - it's OK.
2. I discovered Zicam in 2003 after reading Dr. Sherif B. Mossad's article in the Quarterly Journal of Medicine. His study of 1087 patients found significant reduction of the symptoms and the duration of colds in patients who started using Zicam within 24-48 hours of the start of their illness.
My Tip: Don't wait, keep Zicam handy, not just at home. Use it as soon as you feel a cold coming on. Continue to use the gel 4 times a day and it's best to use it after rinsing your nose with SinuCleanse, not before.
3. Get a really good night's sleep if you're feeling run down, stressed or about to get a cold. Sleep does affect the immune system, and for one of many articles on the subject, see Dr. Penelope Bryant's article in Nature Reviews - Immunology.
4. Hand-washing is plain old common sense. Wash often, and concentrate on not touching your face. If you share phones or keyboards at work, wipe them down with anti-bacterial wipes.
You have nothing to lose, but a cold, if you try this approach. It's safe, low-cost, and effective.