It's easy to dismiss your relatives' advice to gargle with salt water as an old-time cure left behind by science. But the Mayo Clinic, among others, found a bit of salt in warm water can be a helpful and cheap home remedy.
Image via Casey Serin.
We weren't going to put the exact hows and whys of salt water's powers on the front page, what with some people not having finished breakfast yet. So we're glad you kept reading. According to the editor of The Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies, warm salt water circulated at the back of the throat does two things to help cold sufferers:
A saline solution can draw excess fluid from inflamed tissues in the throat, making them hurt less, said Dr. Philip T. Hagen ... (He also) pointed out that gargling also loosens thick mucus, which can remove irritants like allergens, bacteria and fungi from the throat.
A randomised study of 400 people during cold and flu season also found that salt water gargling three times a day, with or without a cold actually being felt, reduced respiratory infections up to 40 per cent. That's not to say that you should start gargling at breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it's an indicator that salt water is pretty effective for how readily accessible it is.
Gargling With Salt Water Can Ease Cold Symptoms [NYTimes.com]