With the Southern Hemispheric Winter well upon us, what are some of the best natural ways to help protect yourself from the common cough and cold and help relieve the symptoms.
Now this is one that I think everyone has heard. To dose up on Vitamin C at the onset of a cold or cough. But does it really work? Vitamin C can act as a natural antihistamine and has many anti-inflammatory properties whilst also helping to boost your immune system. So yes it does work, but at high doses and you need to be consistent with taking it, not just one or two sporadically and give up because it's not working after 2 hours. One study by Gorton H and Jarvis K (1999), showed that overall, reported flu and cold symptoms in the test group decreased 85% compared with the control group after the administration of megadose Vitamin C which was 1000mg every hour for first 6 hours of onset of cold symptoms and then 1000mg every 3 hours there after.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin (which is actually a hormone) that is produced in the body. Vitamin D is known for its' role in maintaining a healthy bone mineral density, fights inflammation and also helps to increase and improve immune system response. As you need optimal levels of sunlight to be able to produce sufficient amounts of Vitamin D, it then goes to reason that decreased Vitamin D levels in winter due to less sun exposure correlate with higher incidence of the flu, upper respiratory tract infections, coughs and colds.
Zinc is one of (if not the most) the most critical nutrients for overall immune health and boosting your immune function. Although there is no evidence that has shown that taking Zinc as a preventative measure helps, numerous research papers have shown that taking taking zinc gluconate or acetate lozenges every 2 hours within the first two days of a cold onset can help to significantly decrease its duration and severity. Although be sure to take this on a full stomach as it can cause feeling or nausea and vomiting if taken without food. Taking Zinc and ginger tablets together can also help alleviate these feelings of nausea.
Along with ginger, garlic is another miracle worker when it comes to the common cold. Garlic has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti microbial and anti-viral properties whilst also helping to have a decongestant effect. Although fresh is best, having any sort of garlic is going to be a winner in helping to fight of those nasty flu symptoms. A mixture of garlic and manuka honey together have been shown to act as natural painkillers to help the pain of a sore throat.
The health benefits of ginger have been talked about for years but only now is there evidence that it definitely does have that healing touch especially when it comes to the common cold. 3 of the active ingredients in ginger, Gingerol, Shogol and Zingerone have all been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti viral/ bacterial properties, among many others, that help alleviate cold and flu like symptoms. It is also very widely used to help with nausea so having a ginger tea or some ginger tablets when feeling sick has been widely shown to help alleviate the nausea significantly.
Echinacea has been shown to boost your immune system and help fight viral and bacterial infections. Although most research shows that it doesn't help to prevent a cold, taking it at the first onset of flu, cough and cold symptoms helps to reduce the length of the cold by 1 - 2 days and greatly decrease the severity.
Not only is Chicken soup (or if i was going to be fancy say chicken bone broth) a great source of prebiotics (see previous post about 10 best ways to restore your gut after antibiotics), chicken broths and chicken and vegetable soups have also been shown to reduce the severity and length of coughs, colds and sinus problems. They have been shown to help slow the movement of the neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) around in body. As neutrophils are specialised cells designed to help with healing our body naturally, when they are concentrated in one place and moving slowly it helps them to do their job quicker.
Not just your regular honey, Manuka honey has been shown to have special antibacterial and antiviral properties that helping to alleviate many symptoms such as, upper respiratory tract infections, blocked noses, sore throats and the common cold and cough. Dose up on the hot, lemon, ginger and honey teas to help sooth that sore throat or it is now very common to find Manuka honey drops (like a throat lozenge) in many pharmacy's.