Cold and flu season is here, and many Americans are stocking up on over-the-counter medications to help fight sickness.
In fact, according to the research organization Euromonitor International, retail sales of cough, cold and allergy remedies in the US are expected to reach $8.8 billion in the next four years. However, before you hit the pharmacy or even your doctor’s office for a prescription, you would do well to look to a variety of potent natural remedies. Many of them can be found in your grocery store’s fresh produce section, or they may already be in your kitchen.
1. Lemon juice. Heat it and mix it with water, and then drink. You can ease a sore throat by heating water and adding fresh lemon juice. A spoonful of honey helps the taste and offers an added boost of nutrition.
2. Apple cider vinegar. Add a tablespoon of this miracle liquid to a glass of water and gargle on an hourly basis until symptoms improve. The vinegar helps alkalize the body and helps kill infections.
3. Cinnamon. Cinnamon is effective as a natural antiviral and antibiotic. Simply mix one tablespoon of cinnamon with one teaspoon of honey and stir to make a tangy tea that helps reduce cough and congestion.
4. Garlic. Garlic is a natural antibiotic, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Finely mince two to three cloves and then place them in a small glass of water. Drink quickly.
5. Thyme. You can use thyme as an antiseptic and decongestant. Steep thyme leaves into a tea and sip slowly.
6. Eucalyptus essential oil. Eucalyptus is a natural antibiotic and naturally antiviral. Add a few drops to heated water and inhale for relief from congestion.
7. Peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil is a soothing remedy for sinus congestion, nausea and upset stomach.
8. Oregano. Oregano can be used in a soothing tea, or it can be added to a warm bath. It is a natural antibiotic.
9. Ginger. Use fresh ginger on its own or blended with garlic for its strong antiviral qualities and its ability to boost immune system function.
10. Honey. An excellent source of antioxidants, raw honey can help rebalance electrolyte levels and treat coughs and sore throats. Also, when used consistently, raw honey can help increase the body’s white blood cell count. Take a teaspoon of honey directly or add it to your favorite herbal tea.
11. Echinacea. Echinacea contains polysaccharides that naturally boost the body’s resistance to infection. A study involving 755 participants conducted by the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University found that participants who took echinacea had significantly fewer sick days than those who took a placebo.
Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Needs
Nature has provided us with vitamins and minerals that boost our immune system so that we can ward off illness, but it’s important to understand which vitamins and minerals we need for flu season. Consider increasing your intake of:
Vitamin C. Increasing your intake of Vitamin C should be among your first line of defense in cold and flu season. In controlled studies, Vitamin C has been shown to aid in the prevention of influenza, as well as shorten the duration and reduce the severity of respiratory infections. Foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin C are citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, peas, tomatoes, berries and papayas.
Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintain the body’s mucus membranes, which are part of our defenses against viral and bacterial infections. Vitamin A also assists with vital T cell function, which is part of a healthy immune system. Natural sources of Vitamin A include carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, squashes, dried apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers, liver, fish and tropical fruits.
Vitamin D3. As a hormone precursor, Vitamin D3 helps optimize important Vitamin D levels, which can help prevent illness and help speed recovery. Cod liver oil is a potent source of Vitamin D3. Other lesser sources are beef liver, egg yolks, cheese and fatty fish
Zinc. Zinc helps maintain healthy immune function. Low levels are associated with a decrease in T cell function, the white blood cell that helps us fight infections. Natural sources of zinc are spinach, lean beef, shrimp, kidney beans, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds and oysters.
Many teas and herbal drinks have been used for centuries to fight off illness. Next, let’s look at hot drinks that can help during cold and flu season.
Before taking any supplement, check with your health care provider. This is especially true for young children and pregnant or nursing women.
Here are some other natural tips for boosting your body’s resistance to illness if you feel a cold or flu coming on:
- Take a hot bath with one to two cups of Epsom salt added to the water. Epsom salt has many beneficial properties that can help soothe and relax the nervous system, soothe bodily aches and pains, ease muscle strains, heal cuts and abrasions, and treat congestion.
- Drink plenty of warm liquids, including the above-mentioned teas as well as soups and plenty of water.
- Get plenty of rest. When you are fighting off an illness, your body needs some down time. Stop “burning the candle at both ends” and get to bed early.
What do you stockpile for flu and cold season? Share your thoughts in the section below: