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Cold & Flu Season: Natural Remedies

Posted Feb 18 2012 7:00am

When my children get sick, I tend to try homeopathic methods before rushing my children off to the doctor. It’s nothing against the medical profession, as they are only doing their job, but rather the costs involved and the overmedicating. Obviously, this is only my opinion and I respect those of you who differ.

Some of the methods my grandmother has taught me over the years is to load up on antioxidant rich foods, calcium and zinc. She’s a firm believer that garlic is a true healer for many illnesses. Quite honestly, when she would suggest trying tomsething natrual before, I just kind of laughed it off. It was not until my daughter became ill that I chose to try her methods and I have not looked back.

Here are some tips for combating viruses and bacteria with immunity-boosting foods straight out of your kitchen (or local supermarket):

NOTHING BEATS CHICKEN SOUP
Grandma was right – nothing beats chicken soup for fending off sniffles. Not only does it provide the fluids needed to help fight off viruses, it’s a powerful mucus stimulant so it helps clear nasal congestion as well as thin mucus. It’s also thought to have a mild anti-inflammatory effect than can help ease cold symptoms. Keep some organic chicken stock on hand, because studies have found that even commercial soup is as effective as homemade.

USE FLAVORFUL HEALERS
If you want to punch up the healing power of your chicken soup – or any other dish – add plenty of garlic and onions. When combined, these flavorful healers contain numerous antiseptic and immunity boosting compounds. As an added plus, garlic helps to open clogged sinuses.

‘SRHOOM IT AWAY
No herbal medicine cabinet should be without mushrooms. They increase the production of cytokines, which are cells that help fight off infection. They also contain polysaccharides, which are compounds that support the immune system. The most potent cold- and flu-fighting ‘shrooms are shitake, maitake and reishi.

“C” IS FOR CITRUS
Citrus fruits contain hefty doses of powerhouse vitamin C. Studies have found that this antioxidant can reduce cold symptoms by 23 percent, and all that’s needed is just one to eight grams (1,000 to 8,000 milligrams) to do the trick. Besides citrus fruits, other foods that have high amounts of vitamin C include papaya, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, tomatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts and red bell peppers.

GO YOGURT
Studies have shown that eating a cup of low-fat yogurt each day can reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25 percent. The beneficial bacteria is Lactobacillus reuteri which has been found to block the replication of viruses that invade the body when we get sick. Not all brands have that particular bacteria, so check labels and be sure to go organic.

IMMUNE-BOOSTING SUPPLEMENTS
While yogurt is a great source of probiotics, some have more than others and we can really benefit by taking an additional supplement. Other immune-booster “musts” are vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acid.

SIP WHEN YOU’RE SICK
Hot tea is soothing and a great home remedy, helping to thin mucus and ensure proper hydration. For added health benefit, sip green or black tea – both are filled with flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants.

GINGER AID
Ginger comes to the aid when we’re sick in some powerful ways. Besides soothing a scratchy throat, it has chemicals called sesquiterpenes that target rhinoviruses – which are the most common family of cold viruses – as well as substances that help suppress coughing. Ginger is also a natural pain and fever reducer and a mild sedative so you’ll feel more comfortable and be able to rest easier. Add a couple of tablespoons of shredded gingerroot to your tea, or make ginger tea (it comes in tea bags, but you can also simmer fresh sliced ginger to make a potent brew).

HONEY OF A CURE
Honey has numerous medicinal properties and because it coats your throat it is a natural way to soothe sore throats. It also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Skip the common clover honey that you’ll find in the supermarket as it has the lowest antioxidant level. Look for buckwheat honey, which has the highest. (A note of caution: never give honey to children under one years of age because their immune systems are not developed enough to ward off infantile botulism, which is carried in honey spores.)

GET PEPPY
It’s ironic that black pepper – the spice best known for making you sneeze – can ward off the sniffles. Black peppercorns are high in piperine, a compound known for its anti-fever and pain-relieving qualities.

SPICE IT UP
Make recipes more flavorful with garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano – while spicing things up, you’ll also get an added kick of immune-busters, too.

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