It’s cold season! And while a flu shot is what your doctor might suggest, here are some natural and holistic approaches for boosting your immune system. Keep it natural and keep it simple when it comes to cold remedies.
With powerful antibiotic, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, garlic has been used for thousands of years to treat a multitude of health conditions. The active compound in garlic is allicin, a sulfuric-based chemical that inhibits the growth of bacteria and viruses in the body. Try finely chopping a clove of garlic and swallowing with water. Because of the high acidity of garlic, it may help to take garlic with a small amount of food in order to prevent stomach upset.
Zinc has been shown to help reduce the severity and symptoms of a cold. This essential mineral can be found in certain foods, but can also be taken in lozenge form, or as a nasal or throat spray. It is believed that zinc inhibits the viral cell reproduction in the upper respiratory system, thereby slowing the spread of infection. A 1996 study showed that
people who took 6-8 zinc lozenges a day found relief from their cold an average of 3.5 days quicker than those who did not use zinc. Concerns have been raised about the safety of zinc, with some research showing overuse of zinc can damage olfactory nerves, and inhibit taste and smell sensation. Limit your use of zinc to no more than 15-30 milligrams a day for no more than a week at a time.
An herbal remedy that has been in use for thousands of years in China, Echinacea provides the immune system much needed support in order to ward off colds and infections. In a 2007 study from the University of Connecticut, the effects of echinacea were observed in 3000 participants. The study showed that Echinacea reduced the likelihood of becoming sick by 58%, as well as reduced the duration of a cold by one to two days. Research has shown that echinacea is most effective when taken before getting sick, showing less positive results when taken after the onset of a cold. Take
Echinacea daily for two weeks if you feel a cold coming on, but do not take Echinacea longer than three weeks at a time, as there have been reports of some negative side effects from long-
This oil comes from the eucalyptus tree, a species native to Australia. The active compound in the oil is a chemical called cineole, and can be used to help fight viral and bacterial infections. Eucalyptus oil is not intended for consumption, and should only be used topically, or in a steam bath. Try dropping 4-5 drops of eucalyptus oil in a pan of steaming water, covering your head with a towel, and inhaling the steam. Repeat this process twice a day, once in the morning, and again before bed.
Astragalus root is another common Chinese herb for fighting colds, and has traditionally been used to strengthen the immune system during the onset of a cold. Studies have shown that this herb contains antiviral properties, as well as antioxidants, vitamins, and essential minerals that can aid the body in fighting infection. Astragalus can interact
with certain medications, and it is advised that you check with your doctor before taking astragalus if you are currently taking medication for another health condition.
One of the keys to nipping a cold in the bud is preventative care through holistic remedies. If you feel a cold coming on, use these natural remedies sooner rather than later in order to avoid coming down with a full-blown cold. Always remember to drink plenty of water and other liquids, get plenty of rest, and wash your hands to prevent spreading the infection. Be sure to check with your doctor before using any of these remedies if you are currently taking medication for other health conditions.