Want to avoid catching a cold or a flu? I don't blame you: The flu has been so bad this year it's all over the news! While I recommend checking with your doctor to see if you should get the flu shot, there are many holistic ways to guard yourself against sickness this season. Here are 5 natural remedies for warding off colds and flus.
This flower is more than just beautiful: It's a powerful immune booster. According to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases medical journal, Echinacea cuts the chances of catching the common cold by 58 percent and reduces the duration of the common cold by 1.4 days. In other words, it helps prevent catching a cold, and it also helps shorten a cold (in case you do still catch it). Try drinking 1 to 2 cups of Echinacea tea each day as soon as you feel a cold coming on, or while you have a cold. It will help ward off a cold, or shorten it, depending on how you're already feeling. I can personally vouch for this herb: One time, when both my parents were sick, I drank two cups of Echinacea-infused tea to keep my immune system strong. Lets just say it definitely helped because I didn't get sick: It kept me healthy and warded off whatever my parents had. I really recommend drinking some Echinacea tea whenever someone close to you is sick too, just to give your immune system an extra boost.
Elderberries have been used for centuries to prevent flus and colds. Nowadays, people take it most often in syrup form, though it does make a tasty tea. Elderberry syrup is very sweet (and safe), making it great for kids. Elderberries can help prevent and shorten flus and colds, similar to Echinacea. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study performed in Norway, researchers gave either a placebo syrup or elderberry syrup to patients with flu-like symptoms. The results showed the patients who received the elderberry syrup saw relief of symptoms 4 days earlier than the group that received the placebo syrup. Impressive, right? To ward off the flu and general sickness, try taking 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup a day. If illness strikes, take 1 tablespoon every 2 to 3 hours until symptoms decrease.
Garlic may not give you the best breath, but it can certainly give you a healthy body. That's because when garlic is crushed, chewed, or sliced it produces allicin, which is thought to give garlic its immune boosting abilities. If you eat garlic on the daily with your meals, you're already doing yourself a favor because this helps prevent catching a cold or the flu. If you do get sick, eating garlic can help you recover faster and reduce the severity of your symptoms. To get the most out of garlic, crush or slice it before you eat it. This increases the allicin content. Also, if you decide to cook your crushed garlic, use more than one clove per meal and let it stand for 10 minutes. This will help only help your immune system in the long run (not to mention garlic has several other health benefits worth indulging in).
Licorice root (not the sugary candy) is a potent natural remedy against colds and flus. This herb works well as an expectorant and demulcent, meaning it promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages and also relieves inflammation. This is perfect for anyone suffering from a sore throat. Try taking some herbal cough syrup with licorice root in it or drinking licorice root tea. You can make your own licorice root tea by simmering 1 teaspoon of the dried root in one cup of water for 10 minutes and strain. If you're sick, drink the tea 2 to 3 times a day for seven days to see the best results. The best part about licorice root is that it makes a sweet, pleasant tea which is enjoyable to drink.
Ginger's hot taste comes from a compound called gingerol. This compound is also believed to be responsible for its healing and medicinal properties. Ginger root is great for improving circulation, reducing chills, relieving nausea and deterring bacterial and viral infections. Drinking hot ginger tea with a little honey is an excellent cold and flu remedy. Drinking it once or twice a day when you're sick can really help relieve your symptoms. You can also make a quick ginger gargle for a sore throat: Just pour a cup of boiling water over half a teaspoon of ginger, steep for 10 minutes, then discard the powder. Use what remains as a gargle if your throat is sore. An important note: do not take ginger medicinally if you are pregnant or have gallstones.