The 12-week study involved nearly 400 children between the ages of 6 and 10 who had uncomplicated cold or flu symptoms. Some children received nasal decongestants or other standard treatments, while others received a saline nasal wash that had ions and trace elements at levels comparable with those in seawater.
Children who were given the nasal spray had less stuffy and runny noses, along with fewer severe sore throats, coughs, nasal obstructions and secretions, than those given standard treatments.
Further, those who used the nasal spray missed fewer school days, were sick less often and used fewer fever-reducing drugs, decongestants and antibiotics.
The researchers are not sure why the saline solution was effective, but suggested it could be due to a mechanical clearing of mucus, or could have something to do with the trace elements in the water.
Saline nasal washes have long been used as a treatment for colds, but evidence supporting their effectiveness is scarce. Using saltwater nasal rinses to prevent colds is nothing new -- I posted an article about this 10 years ago! And nasal saline irrigation, which involves squirting a saline solution into your nostrils to flush out mucus and irritants, is also a relatively well-known way to alleviate sinus infections and other nasal problems.
One of the main components in seawater, of course, is salt, and salt – in its natural form -- has many therapeutic properties when inhaled or used as a soak. Not only are brine baths, which you can make at home by adding a large amount (about 2.6 pounds of salt for a 27-32 gallon tub) of natural, high-quality salt to your bathwater, a great way to revitalize your body, but salt rooms are also growing in popularity.
These rooms, which are essentially small rooms covered in salt, originated in Eastern Europe but have made their way to the United States, including to my hometown of Chicago. Visitors sit in the room for a half hour or an hour to simply breathe in the salty air. And anecdotal reports say they’re beneficial for everything from asthma to respiratory infections to stress.
I suspect, however, that the nasal spray used in this study was so effective not only because of the natural salt but also because of the many beneficial properties of seawater.
If you are fortunate enough to live near an ocean, or visit one regularly, you have access to an incredibly therapeutic -- and free -- health tool.
Immersing your body in natural saltwater actually serves to kill many of the parasites that live on your skin and in your nasal passages and eyes. This takes a major stress off your immune system. Additionally, you will absorb many valuable minerals right from the water.
If you don’t live near an ocean, and you or your child has a cold or nasal problem, a nasal wash using a few grains of crystal salt in 1/4 cup of warm water may help.
Other Natural Options for Your Child’s Cold
Now that the FDA has recently moved to ban many children’s cold medications due to their ineffectiveness coupled with dangerous side effects, many parents are looking for natural remedies for their children’s colds.
One of the best tools I know of for treating colds and flus is simply putting a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your child’s ears. It’s safe, very effective and inexpensive -- simply use the common 3% hydrogen peroxide that you can find in any drug store.
Remember also that colds are triggered by viruses, and using antibiotics to treat a viral infection is useless -- it will not work. So you should definitely avoid giving your child antibiotics for a common cold.
Also, although a virus may be a contributing factor in catching a cold, it's a weakened immune system hurt by stress, a poor diet and not enough sleep that is the underlying reason your child actually has the infection.
So make sure your child is eating well -- and not consuming a lot of sugary foods and drinks like soda -- getting plenty of sleep each night and not under a lot of stress. This will help him or her to stay healthy and avoid catching a cold in the future.