This step-by-step game plan will shorten your mis­ery by at least two days the next time you’re down with a cold.

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The yel­low spice turmeric con­tains cur­cumin, a chem­i­cal that can stop a cold virus in its tracks.

DAY 1 You’re start­ing to feel slightly con­gested and a lit­tle achy.

Pop a pro­bi­otic. Tak­ing the healthy bugs daily can shave around two days off your cold and make your symp­toms 34 per cent less se­vere, ac­cord­ing to a study in the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion. Pro­bi­otics help reg­u­late your im­mune sys­tem’s in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse, re­duc­ing symp­toms like wheez­ing. Look for the strains Lac­to­bacil­lus rham­no­sus LGG and Bi­fi­dobac­terium an­i­malis BB-12. Spray away. Start us­ing a saline nasal rinse three times a day. This will flush out the cold virus that is mak­ing you sick, as well as com­pounds like his­tamines, prostaglandins and leukotrienes that cause snif­fling, re­ports the Jour­nal of Infectious Dis­eases and Im­mu­nity. Suck on zinc. These lozenges shorten cold du­ra­tion by around three days, new re­search in the Bri­tish Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Phar­ma­col­ogy found. Take at least 80mg over the course of a day, start­ing as soon as you no­tice symp­toms and con­tin­u­ing un­til you feel bet­ter, says lead study au­thor Dr Harri Hemila.

DAY 2 You’re feel­ing worse but still telling your­self that you’re fine. Sleep in. “When you don’t get enough Z’s, your im­mune sys­tem doesn’t work as ef­fi­ciently be­cause it’s not get­ting all the fuel it needs,” says Aric Prather, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try at Weill In­sti­tute for Neu­ro­sciences at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cisco. The more you sleep, there­fore, the more en­ergy your body has to send to your im­mune sys­tem, and the faster you can bounce back from your cold.

Sweat it out. Head to the gym for a 30- to 60-minute work­out. “Most cold viruses can sur­vive only in tem­per­a­tures around 37 deg C,” says Dr Richard Martin, a fam­ily medicine physi­cian at Geisinger Health Sys­tem. “A fever is your body’s nat­u­ral way of killing a virus, and work­ing out ac­com­plishes the same thing,” he says. It’s best to ex­er­cise be­fore your symp­toms have peaked, how­ever. If con­ges­tion is mak­ing it hard to breathe or if you al­ready feel fever­ish, skip it. DAY 3 You’re re­ally sick now – stuffy, foggy, wheezy and achy. Try turmeric. This yel­low spice con­tains cur­cumin, an anti-in­flam­ma­tory chem­i­cal that can stop a virus in its tracks, ac­cord­ing to re­search from Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity. “All viruses turn on a group of pro­teins known as NFKB,” says Fatah Kashanchi, the study’s co-au­thor. “If you can shut down NFKB, you can stop the virus or at least slow it down. And cur­cumin does ex­actly that.” Take a 1,000mg cur­cumin sup­ple­ment twice daily for the du­ra­tion of your cold.

Press for relief. “Stud­ies have shown that acupunc­ture and acu­pres­sure can af­fect lev­els of im­mune pro­teins known as in­ter­leukins, help­ing you fight viruses a day or two faster,” says Bill Reddy, a li­censed acupunc­tur­ist and the di­rec­tor of the In­te­gra­tive Health Pol­icy

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