After I’ve spent an adequate amount of time feeling sorry for myself, I’ll start my routine of DIY remedies: a steamy shower (apologies to my curly hair), smothering myself in Vicks VapoRub, and drinking all the teas.
I know it’s dramatic, but every time I have a cold I seriously wonder if I’ll ever recover.
After I’ve spent an adequate amount of time feeling sorry for myself, I’ll start my routine of DIY remedies: a steamy shower (apologies to my curly hair), smothering myself in Vicks VapoRub, and drinking all the teas. And while they all make me feel a little better temporarily, that damn cold still sticks around for more than a week.
But the internet claims it’s found my saving grace: Apparently, apple cider vinegar is back at it again, and this time, Dr. ACV claims she can cure colds. So, naturally, I had to do some digging on the matter.
Wait, can apple cider vinegar really help cure a cold?
Well, here’s what people are saying: Drinking a diluted solution of apple cider vinegar will change the body’s pH levels to create an alkaline environment (one that’s neutral in acidity) where bacteria and viruses cannot live.
But according to Nicholas Rowan M.D., a sinus surgeon at Johns Hopkins, there's no scientific evidence to back up this claim.
Though studies have looked the effects of ACV on bacteria outside of the body (did you know it has antibacterial properties that could prevent pimples?), according to Rowan, its effects on bad bacteria inside your body aren't well known. Besides, upwards of 90 percent of colds are viral infections, not bacterial. Which means nothing can really cure you, according to the CDC- you have to let colds run their course.
Still, drinking a warm and diluted solution of ACV may help with symptoms, says Rowan. “[The warmth] will make them feel better, it’ll loosen some of the mucus, like in their nose, their throat, and their mouth.” But again, ACV isn't going to kill off your cold virus and magically make you healthy again.
So, should I use ACV during my next cold?
Rowan is all about the home remedies, including warm and diluted ACV, to ease your symptoms, but maintains that these viral infections will go away on their own.
Again, since a warm solution of ACV can help loosen mucus, it's fine to sip on it when you have a cold (mucus clogs your nose and can worsen congestion or a sore throat, so the thinner it is, the less awful you'll feel)-but don't expect any miracles, says Rowan. He’s also a fan of using a Neti Pot for sinus irrigation. Rinsing out the nose two to three times per day with a saline or saltwater solution will also help clear the mucus. He warns it’s messy, but totally safe.
As for the pharmaceutical goods, Rowan suggests turning to over-the-counter nasal steroid sprays. “Recently these prescription medications have been made into over-the-counter medications because they’ve demonstrated such an excellent safety profile.”
He says, however, oral decongestants are pretty handy too, but only for a limited time. Overdoing it with these “can really adversely affect your heart and cause high blood pressure.” If your symptoms hang around for more than a week, go see your doctor. Otherwise, happy sniffling.