By Dan Dunkin
Cold and flu season are upon us—that time of year when body aches, fever, chills, and nasal congestion combine and can stop you in your tracks, leaving you bedridden for days.
Statistics show that the flu annually sickens millions of Americans, kills tens of thousands, and results in billions of dollars in medical expenses and sick days.
“Complications arising from the flu can become serious,” says Dr. Suhyun An, an expert on regenerative medicine and co-author of Demystifying Stem Cells: A Real-Life Approach to Regenerative Medicine.
“If you still have symptoms after 7 to 10 days, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor. If any of your symptoms include difficulty breathing, a rapid heartbeat, or feeling faint, or if you experience other severe symptoms like a high fever, seek immediate medical assistance.”
Dr. An says there are ways to prevent the symptoms from reaching that serious point. To feel better and get back on your feet, she recommends numerous natural cold and flu remedies to alleviate your symptoms:
NO 1 | Vitamin C
Some studies indicate that vitamin C can shorten the lifespan of a cold and boost your immune system. “The best way to get it is through your diet—the fresher the food, the better,” Dr. An says. “Oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, leafy greens, and bell peppers are all good sources of vitamin C. Be careful with supplements because they can lead to upset stomach and kidney stones.”
NO 2 | Honey
Honey has natural antiviral and antimicrobial properties. “Drinking honey in tea with lemon can ease sore throat pain,” Dr. An says. “Research suggests that honey is an effective cough suppressant, too. Honey often contains Clostridium bacteria, so never give honey to a child younger than 1 year old because infants’ immune systems aren’t able to fight them off.”
NO 3 | Probiotics
These are friendly bacteria and yeast found in the body, some foods, and supplements. “They can help keep your gut and immune system healthy, and they may reduce your chance of getting sick with an upper respiratory infection,” Dr. An says. “For a delicious and nutritious source of helpful bacteria, include probiotic yogurt in your diet.”
NO 4| Aromas
“When you have congestion from the flu, applying camphor or menthol salve around your nose can help break up mucus,” Dr. An says. “Aromatherapy oils, such as peppermint and eucalyptus, can have a similar effect. Also, vapor rub can reduce cold symptoms, especially in children older than 2 years. It helps open air passages to combat congestion, reduce coughing, and improve sleep. It’s a good alternative to over-the-counter cold medicines in young children because of unwanted side effects.”
NO 5 | Chicken Soup
This popular cold and flu remedy helps because hot liquids reduce mucus buildup and keep you hydrated. “Chicken soup, in particular, has anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce a cold’s unpleasant side effects,” Dr. An says. “Keep some in the freezer or even canned for flu season. It’s quick to prepare that way and soothing to eat.”
“Colds and the flu are threats to us every year, but they don’t have to get us down for long,” Dr. An says. “Natural home remedies can reduce symptoms, so you can be more comfortable and get the rest you need to get better faster.”