Fight Colds and Flu Symptoms with These Natural Treatments

Along with over-the-counter medications to relieve the symptoms of colds and flu, there are some effective, research-based remedies to reduce cold and flu symptoms, and in some cases help prevent the onset of colds and flu.

Before modern medicine, our ancestors had to rely on home remedies. Below are a few over foods, supplements and treatments used in the past to prevent and relieve symptoms of colds and flu. They can have their place alongside our over-the-counter drugs to relieve cold and flu symptoms.

Honey – cough suppressant and antibacterial

Honey has a variety of antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Honey has been found to be an effective cough suppressant. Raw honey has a variety of antibacterial properties. Honey may contain botulism spores that are usually in a small enough amount to not bother older children and adults, however: do not give to children under the age of 1. Their immune system isn’t mature enough to fight off the spores. When using honey, buy raw, local honey if possible.

Garlic – powerful antiviral

Since ancient times, garlic has been used to prevent and treat infectious diseases. Garlic in its raw form has powerful antiviral properties called active organosulfur compounds (OSCs). Evidence points to its ability to prevent viral infections, such as colds and flu. According to the Johns Hopkins website on Lupus,(lupus is an autoimmune disease) garlic should be avoided due to its active ingredients- allicin, ajoene, and thiosulfinates, which can overstimulate your immune system.

Echinacea – immune system booster

Echinacea is a flowering plant that grows in the U.S. and Canada that has been used as medicine for centuries.

Native Americans have long used the herb and root of the echinacea plant for medicinal purposes.

Echinacea contains various bioactive compounds, including alkamides, polysaccharides, and caffeic acid derivatives, which can boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.

Caution: Care must be taken if autoimmune disease is present as echinacea, by its very nature of activating the immune system, could trigger a flareup of autoimmune disease. According to the Johns Hopkins website on what to avoid when diagnosed with Lupus (an autoimmune disease), just like garlic, echinacea can overstimulate the immune system and bring on an autoimmune flare.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that plays an important roles in your body, including supporting the immune system. It is also valuable in treating respiratory and allergic responses because of its anti-inflammatory effects. It is best to get your vitamin C from foods, however that isn’t always possible.

Good dietary sources of vitamin C include:

  • citrus fruits
  • red peppers
  • green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli

Rosehips are a good source of vitamin C. Boil and strain rosehips and sip on the tea. Add honey and lemon juice to boost immunity, calm a cough and clear phlegm.

Probiotics – enhance immunity

Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria and yeast that are present in your body, some foods, and supplements. They support protein breakdown, fight inflammation, and enhance immune function.

Sauerkraut and other fermented vegies offer a powerhouse of health benefits. Irritable bowel patients (IBS) sufferers have reported relief of symptoms.

Probiotics can keep your gut and immune system healthy and may reduce your chance of getting sick with an upper respiratory infection and shorten duration of an infection. When purchasing probiotics, select one that has active colony forming units (CFUs) and has probiotic count in the billions.The probiotics that can help with cold and flu symptoms are in the Bacillus , Lactobacillus, and Bifidobacterium species.

Caution must be taken with people who are undergoing any chemo or immune therapy. Always consult your primary care provider.

Saltwater gargle – can reduce and loosen mucus, which contains bacteria and allergens.

  • Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water.
  • Swish it around your mouth and throat.
  • Spit it out.

Salt pipe – an inhaler containing salt particles that provides respiratory relief. Salt pipes can be used in salt therapy, also known as halotherapy.

In the mid-1800s, Polish physician Feliks Boczkowski observed that salt miners didn’t have the same respiratory issues prevalent in other miners. During World War 2 German physician Karl Spannagel observed his patients had improved health after having hidden in salt caves

Salt pipes can be used for respiratory conditions, such as allergies, asthma, and bronchitis by reducing inflammation in airways and soothing irritated bronchus. It is also effective in relieving symptoms related to COPD and mold exposure.

Neti pots and other nasal irrigation devices for nasal congestion, sinus pressure and allergic rhinitis relief.

Nasal irrigation devices — which include neti pots, bulb syringes, squeeze bottles, and battery-operated pulsed water devices — are usually safe and effective products when used and cleaned properly. The can relief allergic rhinitis, sinus congestion and pressure. Using a saline spray or a neti pot may help clear nasal congestion and it might help with some symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection.

First, rinse only with distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water. Tap water isn’t safe for use as a nasal rinse because it’s not adequately filtered or treated. Some tap water contains low levels of organisms — such as bacteria and protozoa, including amoebas — that may be safe to swallow because stomach acid kills them. But in your nose, these organisms can stay alive in nasal passages and cause potentially serious infections. Check out the FDA site for more information on nasal irrigation.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

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Is the CDC’s Low Influenza Activity Data Misleading?

Warm days, cooler nights, and the brilliant, showy colors of foliage announce the arrival of fall.

Sweaters, jackets, hats and gloves come out of their summer hibernation. Some days are warmer than others, but the crisp air reminds us that winter is just around the corner.

Children are back in school, garden harvest is well underway. Holiday celebrations are just around the corner.

This is also cold and flu season.

The CDC, which monitors flu season activity is showing a lower-than-normal flu outbreak across the states. This is good news. We shouldn’t become complacent though, because the cold and flu season has just started and will last for several more months.

Chronic or pre-existing conditions

If you or any family member have a pre-existing condition- cardiac, respiratory, or compromised immune system- have all the supplies and medications stocked to avoid an emergency room trip in the middle of a cold, dark night.

There is a lot you can do to fight the flu, and even if you do get sick, a well-stocked medicine cabinet will help you avoid a trip to the doctor’s office.

Prevention

Many illnesses can be prevented with a robust immune system and lifestyle.

Maintain adequate vitamin D level

Living in the Northern hemisphere, especially 37 degrees latitude and higher can put you at risk for vitamin D deficiency. The sun’s rays are further away, leading to lower skin absorption. Vitamin D plays a valuable role in many disease processes, but especially well-documented in immune function. When taking a vitamin D supplement, be sure to take vitamin K2 to avoid calcium absorption dysregulation.

Take care of your stomach, and your stomach will take care of you

Up to 80 percent of our immune system is housed and lymphoid tissue in our gastrointestinal tract, having a healthy gut can help prevent and fight many illnesses and diseases. Eating probiotic rich foods, avoiding all forms of sugar, eating plenty of fiber rich foods feeding the healthy bacteria in your gut will help your body fight illness. Along with adequate nutrition, stay hydrated with non-caffeinated fluids. Sip on herbal teas and lemon water throughout the day to keep your immune system working at its best.

Laughter truly is the best medicine

Studies have shown that laughter, and enjoyable activities of any kind improve immune system function and decreases cortisol levels (stress hormone).

Get moving!

Exercise-whether it be a brisk walk in the park, indoor rebound jogging, or a trip to the gym will get lymphatic fluids moving. The lymphatic system is a series of vessels throughout the body where lymphatic fluid collects waste, dead cells, bacteria etc. throughout the body, where it is deposited into the bloodstream. Eventually the blood circulates and is filtered by the kidneys where the waste is expelled through urine.

Exercise can also reduce stress, improve mood, decrease cortisol levels (excess cortisol levels lowers immunity) and increase feel good hormones (endorphins).

Sleep – the great healer

Each phase of sleep contributes to cellular repair, growth, and tissue repair.

During NREM sleep, your body focuses on physical restoration. This is the stage where your body repairs and regrows tissues, including muscle and bone. REM sleep, on the other hand, is associated with cognitive and emotional processing.

Immune System Support: During sleep, the body produces and releases proteins that help regulate the immune response and promote healing.

Brain Detoxification: The glymphatic system, a waste clearance system in the brain is active during sleep and helps remove toxins and waste products.

Hormone Regulation: Sleep plays a role in regulating various hormones, including cortisol (stress hormone), insulin, and growth hormone. Sleep disruptions can negatively affect cortisol regulation, which can, in turn, impact the body’s healing and detoxification processes.

Avoid crowds or sick people

If you find yourself around crowds-out shopping, in the subway, around coworkers, or family members–even if they don’t appear sick – thoroughly wash your hands and avoid close contact. If there is an outbreak of cold, influenza, covid or other viruses you can reduce your chances of getting sick by keeping your distance.

Wash hands

Often and thoroughly. According to the CDC, hand washing alone can prevent 20 percent of respiratory infections. Use 60 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if you are out in public and not able to adequately wash your hands.

Maintain excellent oral care

Brush teeth often and keep teeth cleaning appointments. Evidence points that excellent oral hygiene- can prevent influenza infection.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

Lifesaving Medications

Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

Recent Posts

Keeping you informed and safe.

Explore the Benefits of Outdoor Adventure

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An active family is a healthy family, and a healthy family is a happy one.  .Stay healthy by getting outside, and stay safe while doing so.  The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and a gentle breeze is calling you outdoors! As this season graces us with its...

read more

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