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How to Fight Cold and Flu Season: Natural Health Tips for Increased Immunity

Posted Sep 13 2008 11:47pm

Are you suffering from a sore throat, runny nose, headache, muscle pain and that fuzzy, tired in the head feeling? It may be a cold or even the flu.

You are not alone this season. It seems like right now- with the weather changes- everyone is getting sick. The nasty cough seems to be lingering longer now so it's time to pull out the natural cold cures and natural remedies to fight that nasty cold and pesky flu bug today!

Help is around the corner! Mary L. Hardy, MD, director of the Integrative Medicine Group at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and an assistant clinical professor at the University of Southern California School of Medicine support natural health and age old remedies to cure viruses like a cold and the flu.... "For example, chicken soup not only helps break up nasal congestion, but many recipes include garlic, which has antibiotic properties."

Water. Remember when Mom told you to drink lots of fluids? There's a reason for that. "Your body doesn't work well if the mucous membranes aren't lubricated," Hardy explains. Drink plenty of water, and then create some steam by boiling water or by using a clean humidifier to keep things moist. (Remember, you lose a lot of fluids when you're sick. You need to replace them.) If you have a fever, you can soak in cool water, but don't make your bath cold because you don't want things to be jarring.

Spice up your life. Ever noticed that your nose often runs when you eat spicy Mexican or Indian food? That's because spices help to clear the sinuses. If you're all plugged up, add horseradish, hot peppers (like cayenne, curry, and chilies) and other spices to your diet to help clear things up.


*I'm a huge fan of Thai Chicken and Rice Soup with lots of shredded ginger root. It has the natural chicken soup stock with stuffy nose busting ginger. Ginger will also help up the heat in your body- you may break a sweat but it's all in the name of fighting the virus.

Wild cherry bark tea. Have you ever wondered why so many cough syrups and lozenges are wild cherry flavored? (It's not just for taste, which doesn't even work all that well when you are sick anyway.) At the turn of the last century, most cough syrup was extracted from the bark of the wild cherry tree.

The three Gs: garlic, ginger, and goldenseal. These herbs and spices have antiviral, antiseptic, or antibiotic properties. Your nearest and dearest may not care for your breath, but garlic is most effective when eaten raw: Cooking reduces its potency. You can try ginger and goldenseal in both capsule and tea form.

Eucalyptus. If Mom ever slapped Vicks VapoRub on your chest when you were a kid, you've had a eucalyptus treatment. But you can make your own eucalyptus inhaler: Just put a couple of drops of essential eucalyptus oil into the water when you're preparing for a steam treatment.

Honey and lemon. There's a reason everyone tells you to drink tea with honey and lemon when you get a cold. "They're soothing, calming, vulnerary [healing] agents. They heal up inflammation," Hardy explains. Licorice also has vulnerary properties and may reduce inflammation. "A lot of coughs are not productive. They're just dry tickles. Honey and lemon can help lubricate the throat and produce saliva, reducing the dry tickle."

Fruit juice. You've drunk an ocean of OJ and an orchard of apple juice, right? Well, keep going. Consider diluting particularly sugary fruit juices with water to reduce the sugar content, since some believe that too much sugary foods can hinder your immune response. Other good sources of vitamin C are rose hip teas and "zinger" teas, she says.

Osha root. This remedy comes to us from the Native Americans, who chewed osha root to fight a cold. Native American grandmas knew what they were talking about too, since osha and another common Native American alternative, wild indigo, have immune-stimulating properties. "Osha has numbing properties as well as antiseptic and immune properties. It's included in a lot of modern remedies," Hardy says.

Lemon balm. This herb garden standard has been found to have some antiviral properties. "It's also calming and helps to soothe the stomach as well," Hardy notes.

Elderflower. Teas and syrups made from elderflower, elderberry, and chamomile may help to reduce fever.

Thyme. Antibacterial properties in this herb may help with upper respiratory symptoms.

Fenugreek. A multipurpose legume used often in curries, chutneys, and soups, fenugreek has mucus-thinning action that may help unblock your nasal passages.



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