Re: treatment of colds
I am not one of those people who believes in books, herbals, miracle cures, and all the other marketing B.S. that's floating around. My opinion is that if it really worked, it would work for enough people and have been passed around long enough that there would be clinical studies to back it up.
Like how studies using a concentrated distilled form of the active ingredients in echinacea have proven that it does help you fight off colds a little faster, and that other supplements such as Cold-FX which is ginseng-based (and was tested extensively on professional athletes using double-blind-placebo randomized controlled scientifically sound trials, and then on healthy human subjects other than athletes,) seem to help.
Look on the packaging for the contents of any additives to which you may be sensitive, such as lactose, sulfites, colourings, or particular preservatives.
The best help for sore throats is lozenges, either zinc ones or Halls or an anaesthetic lozenge like Cepacol, or just a regular ol' candy, just to keep the saliva flowing and the irritation from a dry throat to a minimum.
Lots of water being drunk is great at keeping nasal/chest secretions loose and easy to clear, keeping throat irritation and painful coughing to a minimum.
Inhaling steam seems to help the goo in my sinuses drain out, and postural drainage with or without thumping can sometimes help when I can feel a pain in my chest that I know to be retained secretions. I find that I'm sensitive to menthols when I'm cold-y so if I want the water to smell like something to soothe my throat I throw a chamomile tea bag or green tea into the bowl, mostly just so it smells nice.
Humidifiers are both a blessing and a curse; they keep secretions easier to clear, but they are also a breeding ground for more bacteria. They keep dust out of the air, however dust MITES love humid environments and flourish in them.
If your nose gets so stupid-blocked it isn't even funny, I'm personally not a big fan of nasal decongestants (spray or otherwise) simply because they seem to make the problem worse rather than better. I'd rather irrigate with sterile saline (available at the drugstore for precisely this reason) to try to flush a lot of it out, or if you're feeling that decongestant-induced dry-nose feeling, the saline sometimes helps wet things a little bit again.
Do make an effort to clear secretions that you feel rattling around in your chest -- don't cough yourself to a fractured rib, but deep breathing and a good hearty cough is a healthy way to rid yourself of the lovely culture medium that is phlegm.
Warm baths can help because of the humid-environment factor.
Get lots and lots of sleep! If you're tired, sleep! And if you have a bad cold, DO NOT tough it out and go to work -- you're just going to give it to some other poor sap who has to then deal with your misery.
Using the methods above (and lots of handwashing as prevention) I've managed to get over every episode of viral colds/sinus infections/bronchitis that I've had in the last five or six years with no antibiotics and a minimum of OTC medications (which is usually reserved to a cough suppressant, used in times of desperation, when I know I'm not bronchospastic and when the reflexive dry-cough is keeping me from sleeping.)