Attack Cold And Flu Season With These Herbal Hacks
Photo: Science Photo Library (Getty Images)
The temperatures are dropping, so you know what’s coming: cold and flu season. Pretty soon, every man, woman, and child will be sniffling, sneezing, and spreading germs everywhere. In fact, between 5 and 20 percent of Americans will get the flu, with tens of thousands being hospitalized and some dying from it.
While hearing these facts may tempt you to douse yourself in Purell and guzzle nothing but Emergen-C, evidence suggests these kinds of supplements aren’t very effective. Instead, try some of these time-tested and easy-to-incorporate herbal solutions to stay healthy this cold and flu season.
Sudsy Self-Care: Japanese Resort Offers Booze Bath
Native to the East of the Rockies as well as Canada and Europe, echinacea is a flowering plant that activates chemicals that decrease inflammation. Taken at the first signs of a cold, there are multiple studies to suggest echinacea is effective in both treating and preventing colds and the flu. This herb can also be used to reduce anxiety and treat a number of infections.
How to take it: Echinacea can be taken in tablet form or as a tincture that’s added to juices and teas.
As if preventing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even cancer weren’t enough, garlic also has immune boosting functions to help you beat cold and flu season. When crushed, garlic releases allicin, which increases the disease-fighting response of white blood cells.
How to take it: If not taken in tablet form, raw garlic has to be broken down to release the allicin compound. Luckily, chopped garlic can be added to a variety of meals to up the deliciousness.
Not to be confused with elderflower, this dark purple berry has been shown to reduce the length of the flu when taken within the first 48 hours. Elderberries contain a concentrated source of the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin and help the production of cytokines, which are proteins within the immune system.
How to take it: Elderberries can be taken in drinks or tablets, as well as concentrated syrups like Sambucol.
We’ve all sipped ginger ale to help with nausea, but it turns out ginger’s antibacterial properties can help keep you from getting sick, too. Likewise, ginger can serve as an antihistamine and help clear mucus.
How to take it: Ginger can be boiled for a tea, or integrated into quite a few popular dishes.
Supplements Exposed: Study Suggests They Don’t Actually Work
When you’re sick, there’s nothing worse than hacking up phlegm and not being able to breathe. Luckily, inhaling steam with some eucalyptus oil has been shown to clear sinus and nasal congestion. Similar to menthol, eucalyptus acts on the receptors of the nasal mucous membranes.
How to take it: Eucalyptus oil can be added and inhaled to any steam diffuser for congestion relief. If you want to use it internally for other treatments, you should consult a doctor first.
Do you have any herbal remedies you swear by? If so, what are they? Let us know in the comments!