10 Homeopathic Cures for Colds and the Flu: Which Ones Actually Work?

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Are natural remedies just as good as the over-the-counter commercial stuff?
Echinacea

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Echinacea is an herb that has been used for centuries in North America and Europe as a way to fight infections. 

People will go to great lengths to cure a cold or flu. These pesky infections are energy-draining and disruptive, but since no over-the-counter medication can fully eliminate the symptoms, we often seek out less conventional alternatives.

But in the world of pseudoscience, homeopathic cures, and holistic healing practices, how do you know which ones to trust?

Homeopathic medicines are founded upon the idea that a natural approach to illness is the most effective. The word homeopathy comes from Greek and means “like disease.” Its philosophy is that remedies that express the same symptoms as the disease are the best way to cure them. For example, onions tend to strike us with teary eyes and a runny nose; therefore onions are believed to be an appropriate cure for the common cold because they produce similar symptoms.

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Tinctures — concentrated liquids of herbs, spices, and botanicals extracted into alcohol — are one of the most popular form of homeopathic remedies. Tinctures contain a bizarre range of ingredients such as black licorice, garlic, cayenne pepper, devil’s claw (a medicinal plant), and the carnivorous Venus flytrap. These elaborate natural options are thought to target specific ailments; for example, celery seed extract for lowering blood pressure, juniper berry extract for urinary tract problems, and marshmallow root extract for gastrointestinal disorders.  

Tinctures and other homeopathic remedies are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and their supposed effects have not necessarily been verified. A simpler, and likely more successful, approach to a cold or flu is to let the illness take its course. Many of the symptoms of a viral or bacterial infection, like a runny nose, itchy eyes, or a fever, are the body’s natural way of detoxifying itself. Even that nasty cough may be a sign of better things to come because it means your airways are clearing themselves of phlegm and mucus that would potentially transfer germs to the lungs.

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Many homeopathic remedies are more folklore than science, but some natural remedies actually are supported by scientific evidence. Here are 10 homeopathic substances that might cure your cold or flu.