Top 8 things to keep on hand during cold and flu season

  1. Water!
    I would definitely argue that prevention is the BEST medicine and water is vitally important to the function of our immune system and mucus membranes!You can imagine how critical water is when you consider that approximately 70-75% of our bodies are composed of water molecules…and even though we can survive weeks without food, we can live only days without water!
    Water forms the bulk of blood, lymphatic fluid, intra-and extracellular fluids – transporting nutrients, hormones and waste products from one place to another.Water also lubricates our mucus membranes, which are our first line of defense when it comes to bad bug or germ sneaking into our system. Only a moist mucus membrane can function at peak capacity.
    Bottom line: stay hydrated! 2-3L per day.
  2. Ginger
    Anti-inflammatory, anti-nauseant/antiemetic, and circulatory stimulant. In Traditional Chinese Medicine terms, this herb has “warming” properties. So if you’re feeing queasy or you’ve got the chills, slice up some fresh ginger root and boil it with water. Ginger is also indicated for acute infections, bronchitis, and asthma.
  3. Oil of oregano
    Oil of oregano has garnered a ton of popularity over the past few years and it’s not without good reason. Carvacrol and thymol, phenol constituents of the essential oil are identified as having antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and antiparasitic properties. You must dilute the oil of oregano in a carrier oil like olive oil (1:3) before orally ingesting it and use it as a short-term remedy (7-10 days max) at the onset of an infection (or have the telltale sigs that one is brewing). When a respiratory tract infection hits, you can also opt for a medicinal steam inhalation. Pop 2-3 drops (or 1 tsp of dried herb) in a bowl of boiled water and lean your head over the bowl, draped in a large towel to inhale the steam for approximately 10 mins daily. This allows for direct delivery of these medicinal properties to the respiratory system. If you’re “phlegmy”, and can’t seem to cough up that stuff up, use thyme (thymus vulgaris) instead as it has added expectorant properties!
  4. Vitamin C
    The results of a Cochrane systematic review of 30 studies suggests that long-term Vitamin C supplementation will not prevent colds unless perhaps the individual is highly stressed, or has low dietary intake of this vitamin. But higher doses at the onset of a cold can reduce the duration of symptoms. Doses of 1-2 grams were effective in children and adults.
  5. Slippery elm or zinc lozenges
    Slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) is a plant with demulcent properties. Demulcents soothe the tissues of the mouth and throat without having a numbing effect.Zinc, a trace mineral, inhibits the replication of the rhinovirus (virus causing the common cold). In a review of 18 randomized controlled trials comparing zinc with placebo, zinc lozenges or syrup reduced the average duration of symptoms when taken within 24 hrs of onset. Bonus if you can find a lozenge with both of these components!
  6. Neti pot
    Neti pots are derived from Ayurvedic medicine and are used to irrigate the nasal passages, indicated for sinusitis, allergies, colds/flus.
  7. Dark chocolate
    A recent study from the National Heart and Lung Institute in London demonstrated that theobromine (a constituent in dark chocolate) was more effective than codeine at treating cough symptoms. The dosage used in the trial was 1000 mg. Unsweetened dark chocolate has approximately 450 mg of theobromine per ounce (milk chocolate has about 60mg).
  8. Honey
    Generally you want to be avoiding added sugars, especially when you’re sick. Sugars dampen the immune system response in a dose dependent manner, for up to 5 hrs post-ingestion! If you’re sick and you want to recover asap then you need to keep your immune system functioning at peak capacity.BUT if you’re going to use sweetener (ie. In the delicious ginger tea you just made), then choose honey. Used as a traditional medicine, scientists have since verified presence of antibacterial properties in honey. The study of these properties has become even more attractive to researchers since the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
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