Trying to avoid the cold and flu is a common battle this time of year at Smith Mountain Lake, Va. and in most places that are entering their winter season. While modern medicine says it is impossible to cure a cold or flu and natural practitioners argue differently, both parties agree that the length of said illness can be shortened.
Here are some natural approaches to preventing cold and flu as well as shortening the duration of the nasty afflictions. Next time you feel something coming on, reach for one of the beneficial supplements below.
Obviously prevention of sickness is the ideal goal. Although you many not be able to resist every infection that comes your way, you can greatly minimize the risk with diet, hygiene and supplementation.
First, stay away from junk food such as sugar, white flour, soft drinks, etc. This supports your bodies immune function rather than destroying it, so that when you are exposed to a virus or germ your bodies natural killer cell activity will come to the rescue. DO EAT lots of dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits which give your immune system a big boost.
Second, since most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact, if you wash your hands often you will help eliminate them. Also these viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose, or mouth, so keep your hands away from these until they have been thoroughly washed.
Also drink plenty of water, which keeps you hydrated and kidneys flushing. Make sure you get fresh air daily as the effects of dry, stale indoor air (where germs multiply) make you more susceptible.
Vitamin C – Lab studies have found that vitamin C increases resistance to viruses in animals and people and also shorten the duration of a cold. Taking Vit. C regularly can often cut your risk of cold and flu in half.
Elderberry – Another natural cure is the berry extract from elderberry (Sambucus nigra) which contains more than one compound that’s active against flu viruses. One of the many ways it works is by preventing the virus from attacking cells. A study found a 50% reduction in the severity and duration of symptoms in adults and children after taking an elderberry extract.
Zinc – A mineral available in over-the-counter lozenges, nasal sprays, and gels and capsule form may work by preventing the formation of proteins needed by a cold virus to reproduce. Taking good tasting lozengers is a popular, but not effective according to scientific study. The other methods mentioned are helpful in treating colds.
Ginger – A cup of hot ginger tea is a great cold fighter. Ginger contains compounds that have been found to be active against rhinoviruses, the most common group of cold viruses. One way ginger fights colds is by mildly raising body temperature and promoting perspiration. Fresh lemon juice and honey added to this drink after it has cooled a bit, also add to it’s effectiveness.
Astragalus root – This antioxidant herb has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to strengthen immunity and prevent colds and flu. Studies have found that astragalus has antiviral properties and stimulates the immune system.
Garlic – Garlic has long been known for it’s antibacterial and antifungal properties. In one study participants received either a garlic supplement or a placebo for 12 weeks between November and February. People who took garlic reduced the risk of catching a cold by more than half. Studies also show that garlic reduces the recovery time in people who already have a cold.
Oregano – This herb is often known as the pizza herb and has been shown to be beneficial for respiratory infections, bronchitis, colds, flu, general infections and sinusitis. You may want to eat it with food as it is a rather potent spice.