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Old Home Remedies to Avoid for Cold Season

Man suffering from cold or flu

Are There Risks to at Home Cold Remedies? 

Adults get an average of two to three colds a year – children even more often. The first signs of a cold can vary depending on the person, but most commonly they are a sore throat and runny nose, followed by coughing and sneezing. Unfortunately, these symptoms can last for 7-10 days on average, sometimes even longer!

You can reduce the risk of catching a cold by washing your hands frequently and avoiding close contact with anyone who has the virus. Another great way to prevent exposure is to avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. But once you have it, what should you do? There are many home remedies to help with cold symptoms but some may cause more harm than good! These old home remedies from history may be best to avoid.

Ai Ye

Burning the dried leaves of Ai Ye (Artemisia Argyi or wormwood) is said to have an antiseptic effect. It is believed to prevent the spread of cold and flu pathogens and further infections. Ai Ye leaves have antibacterial properties and are used in many forms of traditional medicine. However, it is recommended that you avoid inhaling smoke of any kind when you actually have a cold or the flu. Smoke can irritate the airways, further narrow them, and cause your symptoms to worsen.


Quinine is a natural remedy for malaria made from the cinchona tree bark found in South America. Because of its effectiveness against malaria-related fever, people believe it is helpful against influenza. What people don’t realize is, unlike the malaria parasite, that influenza is a virus. Quinine should be used with a doctor’s prescription as it causes side effects like headaches, nausea, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus). While this isn’t a typical remedy anymore, it may still pop up in a web search and should be avoided!

Sliced Onions

It was believed that keeping chopped onions at home would prevent the flu from spreading to other family members. People falsely believe that onions "absorb" the virus. Unfortunately, the only thing it does is burn a pungent smell around the house and make your eyes burn. Similar to quinine, this isn’t a typical practice anymore, but should be avoided if it pops up in your search!

While these methods are occasionally practiced, they can cause more discomfort than the cold itself and it may be best to avoid them!

Medical disclaimer: Information provided on this site, including text, graphics, images and other material are for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare professional with any medical questions or concerns you may have.

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