Give these natural flu-fighters a shot
If there’s anything more predictable than the arrival of the holidays, it’s the inevitable annual onset of flu season. Of course, no one likes to miss out on the fun and frivolity of this festive time of year, yet conventional medicine offers little relief for your symptoms. In fact, there’s typically nothing a doctor can do short of recommending plenty of rest, lots of fluids, and 7 to 10 days’ worth of patience. Of course that’s good advice to follow, but Mother Nature also has some tried-and-true remedies up her sleeve to keep you out of the doctor’s office altogether!
Wash Viruses Down the Drain
If you’re not a religious hand washer, it’s time to rethink your hygiene routine. As simple as it sounds, handwashing is the number one thing you can do to lessen your chances of catching a cold or flu virus. Make sure it’s the first thing you do when you arrive home from anywhere during the winter months—even your steering wheel can be a breeding ground for these relentless bugs. It’s also a good idea to remove your shoes at the door and wipe down objects like purses and backpacks that tend to track outside invaders into your home. And make sure to wash your hands well—we’re talking two minutes of lathering with soap and water—to allow this simple task to work its magic!
You’ve heard this little gem a million times, but its effectiveness makes it worth repeating a million more—drink more water! On the surface, it may seem like the hot days of summer would require you to take in more H2O than the cold winter months. However, dry winter air—both indoors and outdoors—can wreak havoc on your health. Here’s why: Without adequate hydration, your immune cells can’t operate at peak performance. What’s more, increasing your fluids helps rid your body of unwanted germs and toxins. Many health experts recommend drinking 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water daily, which is a good rule of thumb. But if you’re active or a frequent exerciser, you’ll need even more than that!
Exercise—Even a Little Bit, But Not Too Much
Want a foolproof way to boost your immune system without spending a dime? Get your heart pumping. Even moderate physical activity can have a measurable impact on your overall health. Research shows that exercise enhances circulation, which helps white blood cells move throughout the body and gobble up cold, flu, and other viruses before they have a chance to take hold. Exercising at least 30 minutes most days of the week is also a good way to help flush bacteria out of the lungs, protecting against respiratory and bronchial infections.
Boost Your Defenses
Certain viruses, like flu germs, spread more quickly than symptoms appear, which means it’s important to be as proactive as possible in your fight against these annoying illnesses. The following supplements have a proven track record when it comes to stopping cold and flu viruses in their tracks so you don’t have to suffer through the holidays with a fever, chills, a runny nose, or head congestion. Take one (or all) daily to arm yourself this holiday season!
Andrographis is one of the most powerful immune-boosting herbs available and can help in the prevention and treatment of upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and symptoms associated with the flu. A study conducted in India focused on two groups of people with URTIs. One group was given a placebo, while the other group was given andrographis. The patients taking andrographis reported dramatic improvements in coughs, headaches, sore throats, and disturbed sleep patterns. Take 400 mg (that contains 80 mg of andrographolide) daily.
Here’s one we know you’ve heard of! Echinacea purpurea has been a well-known, immune-boosting botanical for generations. In study after study, researchers have found that this herb has the ability to reduce the length and severity of colds and flu symptoms. Because of its immune-stimulating abilities, echinacea is best taken as soon as you notice an onset of symptoms. For best results, take 150-160 mg up to three times daily.
Elderberry disrupts viruses and restores the body’s ability to fight them off without the side effects or drug resistance you see from prescription medications. Studies have proven its effectiveness against at least 13 different pathogens, including influenza A and B, plus the bacteria that cause strep throat. One Australian study showed that taking elderberry while traveling cut the risk of developing cold or flu symptoms. If you’re traveling over the holidays, elderberry could keep you feeling merry and bright this year! Take 300 mg every day for proactive, long-term protection.
Pelargonium sidoides (also known as umckaloabo) has antibacterial, antiviral, and expectorant properties. This herb attacks acute infections, boosts immune function, and prevents reinfection. In Germany, pelargonium has been prescribed over the counter since 1983, and German doctors have observed its widespread effectiveness against sinus, throat, and respiratory tract infections. Also worth noting, children as young as six years of age have seen excellent results when using pelargonium to recover from cold and flu viruses.
This natural defender is particularly effective for notoriously difficult-to-treat bacterial infections like Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, and H. pylori. Propolis—particularly GH2002—is also extremely powerful against the bacteria that cause common childhood illnesses like ear infections and strep throat. Another bonus? Propolis can prevent cold sores—a virus that often rears its head during times of stress. However cold sores—technically known as the herpes simplex virus—can be weakened by propolis. Take it daily or when you notice the itching, burning, and tingling that signals an outbreak.