Cold and Flu Crushers

Feeling a little under the weather? Our friends at The Doctors set you straight on which natural remedies are worth your time and money this sniffle season.


Wendy A. Facebooked: I heard something about sleeping on top of onions...

Dr. Travis: It'll be smelly -- that's about all I can guarantee. Placing raw onions around the house to prevent sickness is actually an old folk remedy: People thought the onions would soak up germs from the air. Medically, there's nothing that shows this works.


Wendy B. Facebooked: Not sure if this one is true, but how about Vicks VapoRub on your feet to help a cough?

Dr. Jim: No, that's not going to work. Truth be told, I've never been a big fan of menthol rubs in general -- a study showed that putting the stuff on very young kids' chests sometimes irritates airways even more. But if you've used it and it helps open you up, that's fine; just put it on your chest instead of near your nose, and don't use it on kids younger than 2.


Christy R. Facebooked: I love my neti pot! Gross or good?

Dr. Jim: I love mine, too! I use it in the shower so it's less messy, but I've even demoed it on our show! Using the funny little pots to bathe your sinuses in warm saltwater helps shrink swollen tissue and flush out all the mucus and junk so you can breathe better. Hold your head to the side and a little forward when you pour, so the water goes up one nostril and comes out the other. People often make the mistake of leaning back, which sends the water down your throat -- not fun.


@GH_Velma tweeted: It's my go-to whenever I have a cold. Is it my imagination, or does it really make me feel better?

Dr. Travis: This one works great for a bunch of reasons; one is that soup helps you stay hydrated, which is really important when it comes to relieving symptoms. But I'm also a huge believer that if something makes you feel good emotionally and comforts you -- like chicken soup can -- it will help you get healthy. As long as what you're trying is not harmful, take advantage of that mind-body connection.


@TheBabeShop tweeted: We use ginger tea, and it seems to help colds go away faster.

Dr. Travis: Hot tea is at the top of my cold remedies list. I'll have a cup with a little honey whenever I feel crappy. Whether ginger tea specifically makes a difference, we don't know -- but the heat from tea does help soothe a sore throat.


Amanda A. Facebooked: Is echinacea any good?

Dr. Jim: Some research shows it can boost your immune system. The science isn't 100 percent, but I have patients who swear by it. The same is true for vitamin C. Zinc, on the other hand, I don't recommend. The research is iffy, and it has side effects -- it could irritate your nose, leave a bad taste in your mouth or upset your stomach.

DR. TRAVIS' TOP TIP: Wash your hands! Often. And don't touch your eyes and nose. That's one of the easiest --and most effective -- ways not to get sick.