Sea Salt Can Help You Deal With the Common Cold

Boy sneezing into a tissue.

There is no treatment for the common cold but there are some natural ways to deal with its symptoms. (Image: sweetlouise via Pixabay)

There is no treatment for the common cold. However, there are natural ways to remedy its symptoms. A study of sea salt water solution found that it could cut down the length of a cold by around two days while also reducing the need for medicines by almost a third.

Dealing with the common cold

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Edinburgh and saw the participation of 54 people suffering from the common cold. Thirty people were asked to add 3 grams of Cornish sea salt to 100 milliliters of boiling water.

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Once the water cooled down, the participants blocked one of their nostrils and used the solution to irrigate the nasal passage. They then repeated this for the other nostril. This process was repeated three times for both nostrils. Finally, the participants gargled the remaining saltwater three times. This group was then compared to a group of 31 people who did nothing to deal with their colds.

Sea salt can help you deal with the common cold.
Participants in the study used Cornish sea salt to make a solution for irrigating their nostrils. (Image: onefox via Pixabay)

“For those using the salt solution, their cold ended 1.9 days earlier, with their blocked nose clearing 2.7 days sooner than those who let the cold run its course. Sneezing came to an end 1.5 days earlier, with coughing easing 2.4 days faster. Among the 57 people who filled out questionnaires after their illness ended, 35 percent fewer people using the salt solution said someone else in their home had caught their cold and suffered similar symptoms,” according to Daily Mail.

The average adult contracts a cold about three times a year. For most people, this is merely troublesome since it can hamper their ability to function. For some, the common cold can lead to respiratory complications like pneumonia.

Dr. Sandeep Ramalingam, the virologist who led the study, notes that a sea salt water solution is a simple natural remedy to counter the symptoms of a cold and has been used in the West since at least the First World War when people were known to gargle with salt water to treat a cold.

In India, the practice of irrigating the nasal passages has been used since ancient times and is called Jalaneti. When using this method, the chloride in the salt is used by the cells to produce hypochlorous acid (HOCI), a kind of antiviral bleach that is thought to help kill the virus that causes the common cold. 

Close up of a white neti pot sitting on a rock by the ocean.
Irrigation of the nasal passage can be done using a neti pot. (Image: Screenshot via YouTube)

Other benefits 


Salt plays a critical role in the generation of hydrochloric acid, which is necessary for breaking down food in the stomach. Once the nutrients have been broken down during digestion, they need to be transported and absorbed in the intestines. Salt can facilitate this process. A study that observed the effects of salt in patients preparing for colonoscopy found that those who took saltwater and did yoga experienced good bowel movements prior to the procedure.

Skin health

If you suffer from skin dryness, a bath in saltwater can help ease the condition. According to the National Eczema Foundation, mixing one cup of salt in your bathwater can minimize the irritation you feel from eczema, a condition in which the skin becomes red and itchy. A sea salt bath opens up the pores in your body, hydrating the tissues and improving circulation in the skin. This helps the skin to heal.


Thanks to sea salt, inflammation in the respiratory system can be reduced. As a result, phlegm production slows down dramatically due to which you will be able to breathe more easily. Some people even say that sprinkling sea salt on the tongue after consuming one glass of water can be as effective as using an inhaler.

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