Are you wondering how to stop a runny nose fast? Yes, it is a stressful, annoying, and uncomfortable condition. The good thing is there’s a wealth of treatments available to help ease the symptoms and restore you back to a good health. In today’s article, we’ll talk about how to stop a runny nose naturally and safely.
What causes a runny nose
A runny nose is also called a rhinorrhea by medical people. There are so many reasons why people get a runny nose. It can be a result of allergies, flu, household and environmental irritants, common cold, cold weather, or for no reason at all (non-allergic rhinitis).
It’s generally not a life-threatening sickness, but it could be for infants. You need to consult the doctor when your runny nose is more than a week old, high fever sets in, and/or other bothering symptoms accompany it, like sinus pain and blood-tinged nasal discharges.
For mild cases, home remedies would usually do the job. In fact, here are some of the ideas on how to stop a runny nose at home.
How to stop a runny nose fast and naturally without medicine
Bromelain is found in the juice and stem of pineapples. It’s a group of substances that work by digesting proteins in pineapples.
Although it’s used to treat a variety of health issues, bromelain is mostly used for infections, inflammation, and wounds. A few studies have also shown that it may be useful for treating sinusitis (inflammation of the sinus), allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and cough.
In a cohort study, researchers studied the effects of three treatments on 116 kids (under 11 years of age) with acute sinusitis. Test subjects were given a bromelain alone, bromelain plus conventional treatments, and conventional treatments alone.
Researchers based the effectiveness of these treatments based on how fast these kids would recover from the symptoms of sinusitis. It was the bromelain alone group (6-7 days) who recovered faster compared to the bromelain plus conventional treatments (9-10 days) and conventional treatments alone (7-8 days) groups.
To be on the safe side, don’t give bromelain to kids because there’s no established therapeutic dosage range for them. For adults, the German Commission E offers a therapeutic dose of 80mg to 320mg. Take it twice or three times daily.
Bromelain is generally considered safe. But it does cause a few adverse effects once in a while, like hypersensitivity reactions and gastrointestinal problems. It’s not also recommended for people who are taking blood thinner meds, like warfarin.
2. Warm Chicken Soup
Chicken soup has been traditionally regarded as a comfort food and remedy for the common cold and flu in various cultures worldwide. A few scientific studies backup chicken soup’s medicinal activities.
In the 2000 October issue of CHEST, researchers from the Nebraska Medical Center found out that chicken has anti-inflammatory activities associated with the common cold. Chicken soup works by stopping the migration of neutrophil, a white blood cell.
But not all the chicken soups are created equal. In the study mentioned above, researchers used the recipe called “Grandma’s soup.” Its ingredients were salt and pepper, celery stems, turnips, parsley, carrots, onions, parsnips, and sweet potato.
The specific substance responsible for chicken soups anti-inflammatory properties was not identified in this study. However, one researcher did. According to Dr. Irwin Ziment, the reason why chicken soups are better than pure veggie soups is because it contains an amino acid known as a cystine, which is found in a chicken and other protein-rich foods.
He said that a cystine chemically resembles an acetylcysteine, which is a medicine commonly prescribed by physicians to treat respiratory infections. How effectively a chicken soup can treat respiratory infections will greatly depend on the ingredients used.
3 . Vitamin D
Vitamin D is formed by the body when we’re exposed to sunlight. This vitamin is normally associated with a bone growth and maintenance. But recent small- and large-scaled studies have pointed out that it may also play a major role in arming our immune system against certain diseases, like the common cold.
In the study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital, University of Colorado Denver, and Children’s Hospital Boston found out that vitamin D deficiency could increase a person’s risk to respiratory infections, such as the common cold and flu, especially during winter. The risk is five times higher for those with asthma plus vitamin D deficiency.
By the way, vitamin D deficiency in this particularly study refers to less than 10ng/millimeter per blood. Anyway, the result of this large study simply reveals the crucial role of vitamin D in preventing flu, colds, and other common respiratory infections.
Vitamin D is best taken from fortified beverages and foods, such as fortified milk, egg yolks, trout, and salmon. You could also get vitamin D from the sun, but your exposure shouldn’t exceed more than 25 minutes. If the sun barely shows up in the place you live, supplements would be a good choice. According to the WebMD staff, 1,200 IU vitamin D (cholecalciferol) can be taken per day for flu.
Please don’t take more than 4,000 IU a day, especially for prolonged periods. Some side effects of vitamin D are extreme tiredness, drowsiness, poor appetite, vomiting, headache, and others.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C has been used to support immune system health, as well as assist the growth and repair of body tissues. It’s a common belief that vitamin C may possibly help treat respiratory infections, like the common cold, but there aren’t enough scientific evidences to support this idea.
Based on a clinical study, researchers found out that regular intake of vitamin C (1 gm or more daily) has been able to consistently cut short the duration of common colds. Other small-scale clinical studies have shown that test subjects who are under heavy short-term physical stress, like marathon runners, soldiers, and skiers, experienced lesser number of common colds by up to 50%.
Another study suggested that a combination of probiotic and vitamin C can help in the management and prevention of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). Sinusitis, rhinitis (nasal cavity inflammation), and colds are a few examples of URTIs. Symptoms of these conditions usually include sore throat, cough, and runny nose.
Vitamin C is also a natural anti-allergy. It works by destroying histamine molecules in order to reduce their levels in the bloodstream.
Vitamin C can be taken twice or three times a day, that is, depending on the dosage. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends a dosage range of 250mg to 500mg two times daily. But it’s always a great idea to get this vitamin from the foods we eat. Examples of vitamin C-rich foods are:
- Citrus fruits
- Green peppers
It’s rare for vitamin C to cause toxic effects since our bodies don’t really store them. Thus, it’s believed that many people are deficient of this vitamin. Signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are rough and dry skin, brittle nails and hair, poor wound healing, weak immune system, easy bruising, and inflammation of gums.
Pycnogenol, a registered US trademark name, is actually derived from a french marine bark extract (popular source), as well as from a witch hazel bark, peanut skin, and grape seed. This is usually marketed as an anti-aging product. It’s believed to lighten the blemishes and melasma, support the skin health, and treat other health conditions (e.g. sore muscles, inflamed joints, and asthma).
A few research studies have also shown that pycnogenol could help reduce allergy symptoms, especially in people who have birch allergies. BUT it should be taken at least 5 weeks (or 7-8 weeks) before the start of the allergy season in order to get the best possible results.
Pycnogenol can also help our bodies fight infections because of its antioxidant activities and ability to stimulate the immune system.
According to WebMD, you can take 50mg of pycnogenol for allergies. You could also take it in doses of 50mg-450mg per day for 12 months for other purposes. Some possible side effects are mouth ulcer, dizziness, and headache. This shouldn’t be given to people who have autoimmune disorders, bleeding problems, and diabetes.
Spirulina is a kind of a blue-green microscopic algae that grows in a warm alkaline waters or locations with warm weather. It’s often marketed as a super food because of all the nutrients that it contains. Examples are copper, essential fatty acid, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, alpha-linolenic acid, calcium, vitamin A, and others.
Researchers regard spirulina as an immune system booster and a possible treatment for nasal allergies (hay fever). It may protect people from allergies and reduces inflammation by preventing the release of histamine. Histamine is responsible for allergy symptoms, such as watery eyes, runny nose, swelling, and red, itchy skin.
In a 2005 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, people with hay fever were given either placebo or spirulina (1,000-2,000 milligrams) daily for 3 months. Results showed that spirulina was able to inhibit the production and levels of interleukin-4 by 32%, if taken at a high dose of 2,000mg. Interleukin-4 initiates the multiplication of T cells (white blood cells).
Don’t get too excited, though. Scientists still recommend further studies to be done to ensure the effectiveness and safeness of spirulina as an immune system booster and anti-allergy supplement.
Spirulina is marketed in pill, powder, and flake forms. When buying spirulina, stick with well-known and trusted brands. This is to ensure the quality and safeness of the product. You see, spirulina can be infected by microcystins, which are highly toxic for the liver. Spirulina is also capable of absorbing poisonous heavy metals on water, like mercury and lead.
Spirulina can be given to kids below 18, but the dose should be determined by your doctor. For adult dose, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends taking 500mg spirulina four to six times a day.
There are no known side effects of spirulina. However, people with phenylketonuria, an inherited metabolic condition that’s characterized by a buildup of an essential amino acid called phenylalanine that leads to extreme mental retardation and seizures. Phenylalanine is abundant in spirulina. People with autoimmune disorders shouldn’t also take this because it’s an immune system stimulant.
Quercetin can be found in natural sources, such as red wine, onion (all varieties), apple, plums (and other dark blue or red fruits), asparagus, raw spinach, green peppers, and broccoli. They’re also rich in plant antioxidants (flavonoids) that help fight the damaging effects of excess free radicals.
Researchers believe that it may help to lessen allergic reactions, such as runny nose, hives, watery and itchy eyes, and swelling. As an antihistamine, quercetin works by preventing the immune system cells from releasing histamines, which are responsible for allergic reactions.
In one animal study, researchers associated increased susceptibility to infection (due to the influenza virus) following a stressful exercise. However, when 12.5 mg/kg of quercetin was introduced to test subjects 7 days prior to onset of infection, it was able to decreased susceptibility to the influenza virus.
Take note, however, these clinical studies were done on the lab animals, not humans. So it’s still important to take quercetin with caution.
Quercetin is sold in a capsule and pill form. It’s often packaged with a bromelain because they both contain anti-inflammatory effects. Its recommended adult dosage range completely differs, depending on how you’ll use it. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions or your doctor’s recommendations.
Generally, quercetin is considered non-toxic. Its mild side effects are stomach upsets and headaches. If taken at large doses (more than 1 gram a day), it may possibly cause a kidney damage. It’s very important not to take it for too long or without breaks because it can cause toxic buildup.
The echinacea herb is generally used to treat or ease the symptoms of different upper respiratory infections, like flu, sinusitis, and colds. Echinacea helps people recover faster from these ailments because it works as an immune system booster. The common echinacea varieties used for medicinal purposes are Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea, and Echinacea pallida.
A study result revealed that it doesn’t only speed up recovery, but it also reduced the possibility of contracting a cold by more than 50%. It can even shorten the duration of a flu or common cold to just five days.
Like other popular folk remedies, however, scientists are not quick to recommend it because of insufficient human clinical trials.
Echinacea is available in different forms: juice, tea, tablet, extract, and capsule (freeze-dried). This herb works best if you regularly take it before or from the time you don’t feel well. If it has not been more than a week since you got sick, you can take any echinacea preparations two to three times per day. But if you still don’t feel well after 7 days, go to your doctor for evalution.
People diagnosed with an asthma, allergy, diabetes, tuberculosis, cancer (e.g. leukemia), and lactating or pregnant women are discouraged from taking this herb.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, 30% of the world’s population has an allergic rhinitis or a hay fever, which typical symptoms include sneezing, runny nasal discharge, and nose itching. A few small studies suggest that acupuncture can be a safe and effective cure for this type of condition.
Is it? Some studies say it is not effective, while others say it may have a possible therapeutic effect for respiratory infections and allergies. In an 8-week clinical study, researchers compared the therapeutic effects of acupuncture, cetirizine (rescue drug), and sham acupuncture for patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis.
Patients who underwent acupuncture alone led to improved ROLO score (Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire) during the first year, but the improvement was reduced at the second year of the study. Researchers believe this positive result is not clinically significant.
In another study, there was a suggestion that it may not work for seasonal hay fever (allergic rhinitis), BUT it may have the therapeutics for recurrent (perennial) hay fever.
Acupuncture may ease the symptoms of an allergy-induced upper respiratory infections by managing the levels of chemicals that act as an allergic reaction mediators, like cytokines and IgE (Immunoglobulin E), thus reducing inflammation.
Acupuncture rarely (or none at all) produces any side effects. It’s regarded as safe if it’s done by a qualified specialist. So far, there are no absolute contraindications to acupuncture. However, some say that skin infections, weakness, being feverish, and pregnancy (traditional contraindication) are contraindications to acupuncture.
Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata), also called Indian echinacea, is a type of shrub mostly found growing in Sri Lanka, India, and South Asia. Its leaves and underground stem are the parts used for making medicine.
For decades, andrographis has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for treating a wide variety of health issues, like colds, flu, cough, tonsillitis, and allergies. It’s also thought to ease the severity of flu symptoms (e.g. runny nose and fatigue).
The main active ingredient that’s thought to be responsible for its activities against upper respiratory infections is called an andrographolide. In theory, andrographis is said to work by stimulating your immune system in order to attack invaders. One study even revealed that an andrographolide can possibly fight against flu and H5N1 avian influenza virus.
This is available in a pill, liquid extract, and powder forms. Although it’s not that popular as other herbs, you can easily purchase it from any naturopath and from your local natural food stores. Kan Jang, Swedish Herbal Institute tablet, a standardized combination of 4 to 5.6mg andrographis and 400mg Siberian ginseng, can be taken thrice per day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Andrographis is generally safe when taken for a short period of time (less than 3 months) and in standardized form. Some possible adverse effects of this medicinal shrub are vomiting, poor appetite, diarrhea, headache, extreme tiredness, skin rash, and miscarriage.
Ginseng is a native to East Asia and North America. It has many varieties, but one of the most popular types is the Panax vietnamensis. Its root, and sometimes its leaf, is the part used for treating different conditions, such as a type 2 diabetes, male sexual dysfunction, and low energy. Study showed that fermented red ginseng is an effective treatment for perennial allergic rhinitis.
In a 2005 study released in CMAJ, test subjects who took two capsules daily of North American ginseng root extract for more than four months, reportedly experienced reduced incidence, severity of symptoms, and duration of the common cold.
Ginsenosides, a group of substances that are responsible for ginseng’s effects, are said to enhance the function of the immune system and fight the cancer cells. They are also believed to be antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. However, human studies still need to be done in order to confirm these effects of ginseng.
This plant is not recommended to be given to kids. For adults, it’s important to talk to an experienced physician to get the right dose for their condition. Some of the side effects of Panax ginseng are insomnia (common), headache, nose bleed, loose bowels, high or low blood pressure, tender breast, and nausea.
These were just some of the ideas on how to stop a runny nose naturally. Remember, the best way to get rid of this problem is to pinpoint the root cause through the help of a qualified healthcare provider in order to implement the appropriate treatments. Although herbs are natural and have a long track record for treating various ailments, you should still use them with caution.