Every year about this time, my office gets flooded with calls from concerned parents about what to do to protect their kids during cold and flu season. Of course, your local pharmacy shelves are brimming with all sorts of over the counter medicines…but you’re more interested in a natural approach, right? If so, my team at UpWellness has you covered. This article will help you stock your pantry with the top natural medicines to keep your immune system primed and ready for the season.
All the best,
As children head back to school, and the last dregs of summer fade away, there’s something besides cool weather waiting on the horizon. Cold and flu season is rapidly approaching, and your desperate attempts to boost your immune system may come to nothing when faced with a particularly nasty strain. It is well-known that there is no cure for the common cold, but there are a few things you can do at home to ease the symptoms and make your sick days a little more bearable.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), flu season in the United States may begin as early as October and can last as late as May, and generally peaks between December and February. The best way to deal with a cold or flu, is to keep yourself from contracting it in the first place. Wash your hands frequently, stay hydrated, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and avoid contact with those who are sick.
If you do become ill, take action right away and limit exposing yourself to other people. Take a few days off of work, and always sneeze or cough into your arm, not your hand. Heavy, over the counter (OTC) medication and decongestants, may provide temporary relief, but they are just masking the symptoms, and aren’t doing anything to speed your recovery. Thankfully, we have a wealth of natural and plant-based, remedies at our fingertips that can help you bounce back to your healthy self.
Not only does honey help suppress that nasty cough and ease you into sleep, but a spoonful of this liquid gold can also actually inhibit flu virus replication. It has even been shown to be more effective than dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine (primary ingredients in many OTC cough medications) at reducing nighttime coughing and promoting sleep in sick children.
Gargle with saltwater
Place 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water and gargle it all 1-2x per day. This may seem like a hassle, but it is one of the best defenses against a sore throat and can even help pull out viral infections.
Essential oils have a lot to offer when it comes to cold and flu relief. Peppermint and eucalyptus are extremely useful to have on hand and could prove beneficial when that inevitable cold finally catches up to you. Eucalyptus has potent antiviral and antimicrobial properties that can battle against respiratory infection, while peppermint oil can actually help loosen mucus in your lungs and even reduce fever. Simply mix either oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil and apply it to your chest, where you can breathe in the soothing aroma. You can also add a few drops of each to your essential oil diffuser while you nap.
Echinacea tea or supplements have been shown to be more effective than a placebo in preventing the common cold and flu. It has no known side effects and is an excellent herbal remedy to help shorten the duration of your cold as well.
An ancient remedy, ginger has proven itself time and time again to be beneficial for treating the common cold due to its antiviral and anti-inflammatory gingerols. Drink a few cups of ginger tea every day to help reduce your symptoms.
This potent vegetable is not only a powerful antioxidant, but it also has antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibiotic properties as well. Plus, garlic is loaded with minerals, enzymes, vitamin C, and selenium, which contribute to rapid recovery and can aid healing. Incorporate fresh garlic cloves into a bowl of warm broth, or another soothing soup.
Stay warm, rested, and hydrated
Sometimes the best defense against the common cold is time and patience. Give your body the means to heal itself by drinking lots of water and reducing any stressors in your life. Cuddle up in bed with a box of tissues, a cup of warm herbal tea and your favorite movie and your incredible immune system will work tirelessly to rid your body of the unwelcome infection. Be sure to get lots of rest and take it easy!
-The UpWellness Team