Natural Cold Remedies
While cold weather doesn't actually make you sick, it is true that colds, flus and other maladies hit their peak during the winter season. As mom always said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – the best treatment for a cold is to never get one at all. Here are a few tips to boost your immune system:
- Vitamin D: Believe it or not, Vitamin C's big brother D is also an important component to a healthy immune system. To maintain optimal health, your vitamin D levels should hover in the 50-70 ng/ml range; you can get tested at your doctor's office or with ZRT labs.
- Sleep: Studies show that the body repairs itself, even fighting infection, while we sleep. Get at least seven hours per night, or take a daily power nap.
- Avoid antibacterial soap: Antibacterial soaps are full of toxins, and also run the risk of creating strains of resistant bacteria. So wash your hands, and wash them often, but do so with old-fashioned hand soap.
- Herbal supplements: Herbal supplements help fight off bacteria and viruses without the side effect of creating drug-resistant microorganisms. Stock up on grapefruit seed extract, elderberry extract, and olive leaf extract. Zinc is also great for boosting the immune system.
- Probiotics: Probiotics promote the existence of good bacteria, therefore keeping your gastrointestinal track healthy. A 2011 Chinese study of 3,451 individuals showed that probiotics can actually fight off colds. For optimal results, take a daily probiotic containing 10-20 billion organisms, and eat plenty of yogurt.
- Dark greens: Green, leafy veggies like kale and spinach are full of phyto-nutrients, which can help fight the flu.
Even if you do your best to bolster your resistance, you may still find yourself coughing and sneezing. Instead of reaching for the cough syrup or liquigel capsules, give one of these doctor-approved natural cold remedies a try:
- Ginger: A ginger root infusion – boil peeled ginger in water – can fight inflammation and pain, and will also help kill germs and viruses lurking in the body.
- Honey: A 2007 study by the University of Pennsylvania found that children with upper respiratory infections showed a 40% improvement in symptoms after ingesting honey. Add some to warm tea, or just swallow a spoonful.
- Steam: A warm steam bath, either over the stove or in the shower, will help open up your sinuses, letting you breathe easier.
- Chicken soup: You may think this is an old wives' tale, but it's actually not. The chicken and vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes) help relieve bronchial inflammation, and chicken soup contains an amino acid similar to the drug acetylcysteine, which is used to treat bronchitis.
- Saltwater gargle: It may not win an award for good taste, but a saltwater gargle can work wonders on a sore throat. Dissolve a teaspoon of salt in warm water, and get gargling.
- Eucalyptus: This natural remedy is effective at relieving cold and flu symptoms. Studies estimate that more than 90% of cold patients taking eucalyptus oil three times daily experience relief from headaches, congestion, and excess mucus.
- Tea: Warm liquids aren't just emotionally comforting – they also soothe inflamed membranes and prevent dehydration. Look for herbal or decaf teas, or boil your own infusions at home.