As the cold and flu season wears on, many of us worry about protecting ourselves and our loved ones from illness. While there are numerous over the counter and prescription remedies that can help you feel better if you are feeling under the weather, prevention is by far the best approach. Below are some recommendations for staying healthy all cold-and-flu season long.
Good Hygiene/Self Care
Wash your hands, and wash them often! Proper handwashing (thorough washing for at least 15 seconds) can reduce bacteria by around 90%.
Cover your cough (and your sneeze). Wash your hands afterward. This helps prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses to those around you.
If you’re feeling under the weather, and can stay home from work, do so.
Get a good night’s rest every night, and reduce stress.
Drink plenty of fluids and eat a well balanced diet.
Raw garlic is a potent natural remedy for everyday cold and flu symptoms.
In its natural form (as a whole food or whole food extract), garlic helps boost the immune system as well as provides antioxidants. Garlic's main antioxidant, allicin, is released when the plant is crushed or chopped, and has powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
This particular cold remedy is not heavily backed by scientific research, but there are countless anecdotal tales of the power of this natural remedy.
If the thought of eating raw garlic is unappealing to you, try mixing it with honey, green apple, or a bit of elderberry syrup to mask the flavor. There are also commercially available capsules available online and in stores.
Did you know that compounds found in the elderberry have proven anti-viral effects?
Some small studies show that daily dosing of elderberry products can actually prevent you from catching the flu, and others show significant shortening of the duration of symptoms. It can be readily found in commercially available products, and there are many smaller batch products that can be purchased locally.
If you’re thinking about creating your own elderberry elixirs and syrups, do so with caution! Portions of the raw plant can be toxic to humans and cause severe nausea and diarrhea.
Typical dosing starts at a tablespoon per day for prevention, with increased dosing (every 2-3 hours) if flu symptoms are present.
Another powerful natural remedy, ginger root has the ability to kill rhinovirus (the virus causing the common cold) and also has strong anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it well suited for soothing sore throats and easing other cold and flu symptoms.
Its main chemical compound, gingerol (found in fresh ginger) also has strong anti-oxidant qualities.
Best used in its fresh, natural form, ginger teas are a popular go-to remedy for many ailments, including upset stomach, cough, and sore throat.
Looking to ease sore throat? Grate some fresh ginger (about 1 tablespoon) into a pot of water and boil for 3-4 minutes. Drink a few cups each day until your symptoms resolve.
Add a bit of lemon and honey for a soothing beverage that will have you feeling better in no time.
Grating your own ginger not your cup of tea? You can purchase premade bags at most grocery stores.
Honey is often overlooked as a cold and flu remedy, but it’s both soothing and has antimicrobial (bacteria fighting) properties.
Raw honey is also high in antioxidants, and some forms can even be used to improve wound healing.
Use a spoonful to soothe cough and sore throat, or mix with garlic or ginger for an even more powerful cough and cold remedy.
Whenever possible, purchase honey from a local source for the added benefit of protection against seasonal allergies!
Apple Cider Vinegar
With as little as one tablespoon a day, apple cider vinegar packs a powerful punch that helps knock out your cold and flu symptoms in a short amount of time.
True to its name, apple cider vinegar is a liquid derived from the fermentation of apple cider. It boasts a wide variety of health and wellness benefits.
Apple cider vinegar helps to relieve cold symptoms by thinning mucus and alkalinizing (raising the pH) of the body. This change in pH creates an unpleasant environment that kills unwanted bacteria and viruses. It’s also considered a prebiotic-a substance that helps to feed the good bacteria in your body that work to keep you healthy.
When taken at the first hint of illness, especially in combination, colds can often disappear before they even begin!
Best used in its raw form, apple cider vinegar has, by most accounts, an unappealing taste. Try mixing in with warm water, honey, or lemon to make the daily use more palatable.
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The products listed above are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. These natural remedies, though recommended and vetted by a licensed pharmacist, are not FDA approved for the treatment of any condition listed above.