Top 20 remedies for warding off a cold – including vitamins and vapour rub

Health-conscious Brits have revealed their top remedies for fighting a cold, including applying vapour rub, wearing extra layers of clothing – and eating raw onions.

Seven in ten Brits will try to ward off feeling under the weather, as they believe taking proactive steps to prevent an illness is better than treating the symptoms.

Almost half (48%) believe taking extra vitamins is one of the best ways to avoid catching the lurgy, with 33% keeping dosed up on Vitamin D.

And half of those suffering from a cold will try to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night – with 18% choosing to sleep sitting up.

Almost a third (31%) follow the saying, “feed a cold, starve a fever” – while 29% think that going outside without a coat on will mean you catch a cold, and 28% believe the same about going to bed with wet hair.

However, only 16% practiced good nasal hygiene – one of the simplest and most effective ways to support their immunity against cold and flu, according to experts.

Seven in ten said they did not know “good nasal hygiene” would help.

But almost two-thirds (64%) confessed they take their clear and breezy airways for granted – until they are blocked up with a cold.

Over a fifth (21%) said they didn’t know what nasal hygiene means, with 33% believing it was blowing their nose – while exactly one in 10 said it was picking their nose.

Dr Zoe Williams, who has partnered with Stérimar, said: “Prevention is better than cure, so people should be looking to support good functioning of their immune system and be reminded of other measures, such as hand hygiene, to avoid getting poorly.

“Some well-known ways to help maintain a healthy immune system include getting enough sleep, being physically active, staying hydrated, and having a healthy diet, which should include vitamin D.

“But, there’s one remedy that is proven to work, that many Brits do not know about – practicing good nasal hygiene.

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“This is the practice of keeping nasal passages clean and clear with help from a non-medicated nasal spray.

“The nose acts as a natural barrier against viruses, and keeping sinuses clean will ensure the nose is working properly, helping keep cold and flu symptoms at bay.”

It also emerged some try various home remedies when they are ill, with 11% turning to cups of soup to “sweat out” their illness, while 22% have steamy baths, and 19% have a “hot toddy”.

Other unconventional and bizarre home remedies people turn to include eating raw onions (7%), rubbing goose grease on their chests (5%), wearing cold and wet socks to bed (6%), and consuming oysters (5%).

Just under half (48%) of those opting for home remedies use those passed down from their parents or grandparents, whilst nearly a third (31%) received wisdom from a friend or relative.

Dr Zoe Williams added: “Brits also swear by their favoured home remedies when struck down with a cold or flu, especially those that have been passed down through the generations or recommended by friends.

“However, most don’t have any scientific backing – and what works for one person may not work for someone else.”


  1. Applying vapour rub
  2. Drinking honey and lemon
  3. Taking vitamins
  4. Drinking hot water and lemon
  5. Wearing multiple layers of clothing
  6. Using medicated nasal spray
  7. Putting your face over a bowl of hot water with menthol crystals
  8. Having a steamy bath
  9. Eating chicken soup
  10. Gargling salt water
  11. Having a “Hot Toddy”/hot alcoholic drink
  12. Sleeping sat up
  13. Drinking hot blackcurrant squash
  14. Using natural, non-medicated nasal spray
  15. Exercising vigorously
  16. Sitting in the bathroom with the shower on
  17. Smelling ginger
  18. Lying flat on your back to stop a runny nose
  19. Eating raw onions
  20. Wearing cold, wet socks to bed

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