Scientists at the University of Edinburgh believe sea salt could boost the antiviral defence of cells that kicks in when you are affected by a cold.
The new study builds on a trial published in 2019, which found participants who gargled and cleared their nose with a saltwater solution had fewer coughs and less congestion.
The researchers will now investigate whether the same solution can benefit those with COVID-19 symptoms and are recruiting adults in Scotland to take part in trials.
Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the university’s Usher Institute, said: “We are now moving to trial our saltwater intervention in those with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, and hope it will prove to be a useful measure to reduce the impact and spread of the infection.
“It only requires salt, water and some understanding of procedure so should – if found to be effective – be easy and inexpensive to implement widely.”
Half of the participants in the original pilot study – known as the Edinburgh and Lothians Viral Intervention Study, or ELVIS – gargled saltwater while the other dealt with a cold as they normally would.
Those joining the new trial will be asked to follow government advice on hygiene and self-isolation with one group again asked to gargle and clear their nose with salt water.
To find out more about the study and to take part, visit ed.ac.uk.