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Natural Products for Cold and Flu

by Jessica B. April 5th, 2012 | Common Conditions
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Every time cold and flu season rolls around I hope I won’t fall prey, and then, every year, I do. I tend to have a strong reaction to a lot of the conventional cold and flu medications. Often times, they end up knocking me out more than the flu itself. So, I try to save them as a last resort.

When you are feeling poorly, you often will try anything. This last cold and flu season, I started experimenting with natural treatments. Some were successful, others felt like placebos. At the end of the day, I haven’t found the be all and end all of natural treatments, but some were better than nothing, and none of them knocked me out like traditional cold medicines.

Echinacea – I finally tried this, since my husband swears by it. I have avoided it for a long time, because I find the taste rather unpleasant, and I’m not convinced it works. The idea is you put a few drops in a glass of water and down it quickly. You need to do this for several days before it has an effect, so you should start drinking Echinacea at the beginning of flu season. Does it work? I don’t know. I started drinking it when I watched the other members of my family fighting a cold I hadn’t gotten yet. Maybe this was too late? I got the cold a few days later. I am not a big fan, but sometimes it is nice to do something rather than nothing, even if it only gives a placebo effect.

Zinc – Many studies have shown that zinc is one of the few substances which can shorten the length of your cold and help you recover faster. Great. I’ll take it. Zinc in cough drops, zinc in nose sprays, whatever is the most pain-free way of administering it I will do it. Are my colds shorter? I don’t know, but I like to think so.

Garlic – I only try this method if I am sick enough to spend the day at home, but some people swear by garlic. I had one woman recommend putting garlic in orange juice to help build vitamin C stores as well, but that is where I draw the line. I love garlic, so a slice of garlic bread for breakfast suits me fine. But the problem is, if I have a cold or a flu, I usually don’t eat very much. Garlic on an empty stomach causes me a lot of discomfort, so I try not to rely on this method too much.

Hot showers and steam – This is a great way to open your sinuses and make you feel better. Take a hot shower or boil a pot of water and put your head over it with a towel covering your head. This relieves pressure in your sinuses and helps you feel better pretty quickly. It is also very relaxing. Make sure not to fall asleep with your head over the pot of water!

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.