From chicken soup and honey to Epsom salt baths, there are plenty of at-home options available to manage viruses like the cold and flu. Getting enough rest, staying well hydrated, and eating nutrient-rich foods are all important for helping the body fight an illness.
Home remedies do not replace any medical treatment recommended by your doctor, but when used in addition, they can help speed up recovery from viral infections.
Herbal teas have been used for thousands of years in folk medicine for various ailments, including viral infections. Studies suggest green tea has antiviral qualities and is a good choice for during the day.
In the evening, caffeine-free teas like turmeric, elderberry, and echinacea may also help fight a cold or flu. For optimal benefits, consume a few cups of hot tea throughout the day.
Many people have childhood memories of being served chicken soup at the first sign of a cold or flu. It turns out your grandparents were right. Chicken soup is indeed helpful to fight upper respiratory viral infections like cold and flu.
Research suggests that chicken soup helps relieve inflammation, reduce symptoms, and support the function of certain immune cells that have important roles in infections. After testing both the vegetables and the chicken, scientists believe this food contains multiple substances with medicinal activity.
Garlic has a long history of use as a seasoning, as well as a cold or flu remedy. Clinical studies show garlic can help prevent the spread of viral infections thanks to its broad antiviral spectrum against viruses responsible for common cold, influenza, herpes, hepatitis A, and rotaviruses.
A brand of aged garlic extract is one of the most researched forms of garlic in supplement form. Alternatively, you can reap the benefits by chopping a garlic clove into small pieces and swallow them.
Ginger may help fight viral infections that cause the common cold, H1N1 influenza, herpes, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Scientists identified over 450 active ingredients in this humble root. Better yet, ginger is easy to incorporate into the diet, whether chopped and added to dishes, as an herbal tea, or blended in a smoothie. Dry ginger is also available in supplement form alone or combined with turmeric and other herbs.
Neti pots are available in pharmacies, health food stores, and online. They are ideal for people with allergies, sinus inflammation, and colds, as they help rinse debris and mucus from the nose. The nasal solution for the neti pot is a saltwater mix that can be made at home using salt and distilled water. Do not use the neti pot with plain water.
Eucalyptus oil is usually sold as an essential oil that can be used for cough and congestion associated with common colds. Be sure to dilute it before applying it to the chest or throat, by mixing it with coconut or another oil.
Alternatively, add eucalyptus oil to hot water and inhale it, or place it in an essential oil diffuser.
Apple cider vinegar is a fermented juice made from apples. Costlier versions are available that include the "mother", which boasts probiotics along with acetic acid and B and C vitamins. Although many claims related to apple cider are anecdotal, some studies do support apple cider vinegar's antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal capabilities.
Use apple cider vinegar as a throat rub or as a gargle to relieve congestion associated with a common cold.
Elderberries are rich in vitamin C and plant compounds called flavonoids and anthocyanins. In folk medicine, elderberry juice is recommended to relieve cough and congestion. The medicinal product Sambucol, based on elderberry extract, has been the subject of multiple studies.
In one, about 90% of the participants saw their flu symptoms completely resolve in half of the time — two to three days — compared with those who didn’t use Sambucol. For optimal benefits, elderberry extract should be taken at the first signs of a viral infection.
Honey can’t be left offthe remedy list for colds and flu. Either alone or combined with other natural products, honey appears to be particularly helpful for easing sore throat and reducing cough. Honey is suitable for children over age 1 and most adults. It should never be given to children under one year, though, due to the risk of Botulinum infections.
Taking a warm bath helps to improve symptoms of colds and flu because the patient is breathing in the rising steam. Adding Epsom salt can further help because minerals are absorbed through the skin. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium, which helps relax the muscles, reduce body aches and pains, relieve stress, and promote a restful sleep
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