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Natural And Herbal Cold Remedies

While science hasn’t proved the validity of most herbal remedies, they have been used for thousands of years, even before the scientific community existed. There is no remedy that is 100% effective for the prevention of colds, but there are several things that we all should do to lower our risk factors for getting one. These things are what our mothers and grandmothers have been telling us for generations and are truly common sense.

Risk Reducers:

  • Regular hand washing – washing before and after you eat, after handling food – especially meats of any kind—after using the restroom, and brushing your hair. Also upon starting to feel better you, should shower and wash your hair and change your bedding.
  • Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day – the vitamins that are naturally contained in them will help boost your immune system. Remember fresh is always better than cooked, but if you choose to cook them, the least amount of cooking will preserve the most nutritional value to your foods.
  • Daily exercise – new federal guidelines state that an hour of exercise five times weekly is essential to good health and well-being.
  • A good night’s sleep – most doctors recommend eight to ten hours each night.
  • Limit stress triggers – most of us know what things cause us to be stressed out. By eliminating or limiting these things from our daily lives, we will help our immune systems to stay strong.
  • Drinking plenty of water – our bodies are made mostly of water. Keeping our bodies well hydrated can help to flush out unwanted germs and reduce weight, if desired. General guidelines state we need eight glasses of water daily. A better recommendation is to take your weight in pounds and divide it by two to find the number of ounces of water you need each day – a person weighting 150 lbs should drink 75 ounces (about nine cups) of water.
  • Add hot tea, black or herbal, or even hot water to your diet – drinking hot liquids can temporarily relieve some cold symptoms, such as sore throat, runny nose, and coughs.

Natural and Herbal Remedies:

  1. Vitamin C – Adding 1000 mg of this vitamin to your daily supplements can help to boost your immune system during cold weather months.
  2. Zinc – This mineral is necessary for normal immune system function, but you should avoid large doses (>50 mg/day) for extended periods.
  3. Probiotics (acidophilus, bifidus, and others) – studies have shown that taking probiotics containing various strains of lactobacillus may be helpful in preventing the common cold or in reducing its severity.
  4. Andrographis – some health care professionals have recommended this herb and studies have found it useful in reducing cold symptoms when used with Siberian ginseng. Another study has shown some effectiveness in reducing flu symptoms and complications in using these herbs.
  5. N-acetyl cysteine [NAC] – this is a potent antioxidant that has been used for years to treat lung conditions like bronchitis because of its expectorant properties. Some researchers have found that taking 600 mg of NAC daily has reduced the severity flu symptoms, especially in the elderly.
  6. Echinacea – taking 300 mg three times daily of this herb has been effective for some to reduce cold and flu symptoms.
  7. Siberian ginseng [Eleutherococcus senticosus] / American ginseng [Panax quinquefolium] – both of these herbs have reputed benefits in adapting to stress. Taking 400 mg/daily of American ginseng may also reduce risk of catching colds as well as reducing its severity.
  8. Garlic – this has long been reported to have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.  Studies have shown that regularly taking garlic capsules may reduce the risk of catching colds. When considering taking garlic capsules you will want to consider a few things. First of all, they can cause the breath to smell like garlic. Second, garlic supplements should be avoided by those taking blood thinners, such as warfarin, and those who are scheduling any surgical procedures, as it can increase your risk of bleeding.
  9. Elderberry – this natural remedy has been studied for its potential in reducing the severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms. It has also been useful in breaking up congestion.
  10. Vitamin D – studies have shown that those with low levels of vitamin D are at greater risk of upper respiratory infections. Current recommendations have increased daily dosage to 600 IU for most adults and 800 IU for the elderly and infirmed. Increasing daily intake to 2000 IU Vitamin D in winter may help reduce risk of catching colds or flu viruses.

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A home remedy that I have used personally was a paste of equal parts finely minced garlic, honey, and powdered Echinacea. While it doesn’t taste good, taking one teaspoon daily at the beginning of cold and flu season along with your regular vitamin, mineral, and herbal supplements may reduce your risk of catching these viruses.

As always, before beginning any new treatment, please seek the advice of your health care professional(s).

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