11 Families' Weird & Clever Secrets to Shortening a Cold

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The kids are back in school, the air is getting crisp, and -- if your family is like my family -- it's time to start buying tissues and cold medicine in bulk. Yep, cold and flu season is here. 

Sure, there are tons of cold medicines on the market — and natural remedies that medical experts say can really work. But what about those things that people do to prevent or shorten a cold that they swear work every time?

I talked to some women who were happy to share their families' cold-fighting secrets. Many of these have been passed down from generation to generation and some of them -- well, some of them are crazy enough that they just might work. 

Remember, these cold remedies are not medically proven -- and you should always check with your doctor before trying anything potentially dangerous. But most of them are worth a shot. Just don't get mad at us if you eat a garden full of #11 and don't feel any better! 


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  • Wear a Hat to Sleep

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    "My mama always made us sleep with a hat on when we were sick as kids. I still do it now. I think it helps your head feel cozy or something. I don't know if it actually helps, but it makes me think of Mom, which makes me feel better." -- LaToya R., Baltimore, Maryland

  • Drop Peppermint Oil on Your Pillow

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    "I swear by putting peppermint oil on my pillowcase! Use an old one, because it might stain, but putting some drops on my pillow right before bed totally helps me breathe better." -- Marla D., Ankeny, Iowa

  • Give Yourself a Special Foot Rub

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    "[I believe] rubbing menthol on the bottom of your feet and then covering with cotton socks helps stave off/lessen a chest cold." -- Anna D., Dalbo, Minnesota

  • Drink OJ Like Crazy

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    "You gotta get that vitamin C! I drink a quart of orange juice A DAY when I have a cold. I'm not kidding around when it comes to fighting a cold." -- Rickie N., Nome, Alaska

    More from CafeMom: 10 Reasons You Can't Get Rid of Your Cold (PHOTOS)

  • Gargle With Salt Water

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    "My tip is for dealing with a sore throat: Gargle with really warm salt water. I hated it growing up, but I do it now and it really does help. I'm passing this on to my kids, and they hate it just like I did." -- Melissa E., Sacramento, California

  • Hydrate! (With Scotch?)

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    "You have to hydrate! Drink a lot of water. But, if we want to pretty it up? A good single malt [scotch], a blanket, and a book by the fire." -- Ali S., Boston, Massachusetts

  • Heat Up a Comforting 'Tea'

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    "My mom always made us this hot tea-like drink with garlic, honey, lemon, and ginger. It kind of grossed me out then, but now it tastes like love. Yes. I'm 30 and I still make my mom take care of me when I'm sick!" -- Claire S., Lawrence, Kansas

  • Get Cozy

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    "Whenever I'm sick I do three things: drink tons of tea, make a blanket fort in bed, and reread my favorite childhood book, Anne of Green Gables. I think getting cozy is an important part of the healing process!" -- Rebecca S., Saint Paul, Minnesota 

  • Have Sexual Healing

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    "My husband is convinced that having sex when you're sick makes you get better faster. Something about the hormones released or something. I don't know what's worse: trying to kiss when you are too stuffed up to breathe or being kissed by someone who's coughing every two seconds. Hard pass on my end." -- Anonymous

    More from CafeMom: How to Survive a Bad Cold When You Are Taking Care of Kids

  • Use a Neti Pot

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    "I'm evangelical about using a neti pot! It is so weird at first -- I get that -- but it has changed my life! I used to get colds that would turn into sinus infections and I'd be sick for weeks and weeks. Last winter I started using the neti pot at the first sign of a cold and it made such a difference. I got better faster and didn't get a single sinus infection.

    And the instant relief when you can breathe again is amazing!" -- Sue T., Chicago, Illinois

  • Eat ... Radishes?

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    "My Russian grandmother passed down this trick: When you get sick, eat as many radishes as you can stand. The fresher the better, and they have to be raw." -- Larissa O., Saint Paul, Minnesota

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