Why chug fluorescent cough syrup or pop coated aspirin when you can try simple, natural remedies?
Aside from fighting harsh temperatures, never-ending layers of clothing, and half-hour windshield scraping sessions, our biggest battle through the winter can be with our own bodies. Why chug fluorescent cough syrup or pop coated aspirin when you can try simple, natural remedies to reduce your struggle with the worst winter enemy: the common cold?
We spoke with Mary Anne Miller, a Registered Nurse who teaches at the Bohecker College School of Nursing in Cincinnati, and she gave us insight into some cold remedies that may already be sitting in our pantries.
Your breath may be kickin’, but your white blood cells will be too. “One major natural product used to decrease colds or prevent colds is having garlic heavy in the diet,” says Miller.
Garlic has been known as the wonder-clove for centuries—in ancient history and in myth. Aside from vanquishing vampires, garlic was also given to the Romans to give them strength before battle (talk about the original Gatorade). Those zesty little bulbs boost our natural supply of hydrogen sulfide, an antioxidant that, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, increases blood flow and relaxes blood vessels. Not only does garlic boost our immune system, but a garlic-filled diet can help protect the body from various cancers such as breast, prostate, and colon, too.
Miller suggests having at least two cloves of garlic a day. Many Italian and Asian dishes use a lot of garlic, so make winter a time to go international with your cooking; it will add spice and antioxidants.
Oregano is more than just those little green flakes next to the parmesan at LaRosa’s. The oil extracted from the wild oregano plants is lethal against germs. “Oil of oregano is a very powerful antiviral and antifungal,” says Miller. According to researchers at the Department of Food Science at the University of Tennessee, compared to other various plant oils, oil of oregano is the greatest contender as an antibacterial agent against common pathogenic germs. Oregano oil even kicks rancid bacteria such as E. coli out of the ring. Oil of oregano is a potent antiseptic used both topically and internally.
“The oil can be bought at health food stores. I recommend putting 2-4 drops under the tongue or in juice or hot tea,” says Miller. It can be purchased as a liquid or in capsules.
Elderberry Extract or Juice
Elderberry juice was used to treat the avian flu epidemic in Panama more than a decade ago, and the discovery of its multiple health benefits just keep booming. Elderberry extract contains a compound known as sambucus, which prevents some strains of influenza from being reproduced in your system. Sambucol is one of the most well-known brands of juice, tablets and more containing elderberry extract. Adding four tablespoons of elderberry extract to a cup of tea can help relieve a cough, sore throat, or headache.
That little yellow slice can do much more than just jazz up your piña colada; it can ease the pain of an upset stomach. Pineapple can reduce inflammation in the intestines with the help of bromelain, an enzyme that seeks and destroys sneaky foreign microbes in your body, according to Rebecca Wood, author of The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.
Miller also emphasizes that the most important aspects of keeping yourself healthy in the winter are actually things we should focus on year-round. “It is important to keep yourself from getting run-down,” Miller says. Remember to exercise, even if it means throwing a parka on over your sweats to make it to the gym; know when to turn off the computer and go to bed; and, most of all, keep your stress levels low—just like Frankie says, relax.