Cold and flu season is upon us, and before you know it, you won’t be able to throw a stone 50-feet without hitting someone who is suffering from these miserable little illnesses. From nasal congestion, chills, aches, cough and a fever, these symptoms can keep you down for days, but there are ways to feel better without medication or a doctor’s visit.
Now granted, some medication may help ease symptoms of both seasonal and H1N1 flu when taken shortly after you get sick, but if you try to stay away from prescriptions unless absolutely necessary, then you’re in luck. There are actually some natural remedies you can employ, which may be all you need for relief of mild to moderate flu symptoms.
Boosting your immune system to fight the common cold and that nasty influenza can be simple if you know what to do. Below are a few tips that have been shown to really help out with aches, coughs, chills, sneezing and other cold and flu symptoms:
Candy and Cough Drops
Throat lozenges, cough drops and yes, even hard candy, can be surprisingly effective at easing a cough or sore throat. Some lozenges contain zinc and slippery elm, which helps shorten cold symptoms.
Green tea is known to have many properties that can help keep you in good health, and better prepare you to fight or ward off cold and flu bugs. Additionally, peppermint tea is packed with nutrients that help the body fight off illness as well. It also can act as an expectorant, helping the body to cough up mucus.
Ginger’s health benefits have long been touted, and a few slices in hot water will soothe a cough or sore throat. Also, honey is known to boost the immune system, and a daily dose can help you to feel energetic and stay healthy. It also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, so if you do develop a sore or scratchy throat, honey will soothe and help heal.
Lime juice is reported to decrease the strength of the cold and flu virus in the body and reduce phlegm. Lemons, on the other hand, are loaded with vitamin C, which is known to support the body’s natural defenses. You can add lemon juice to your tea or make hot or cold lemonade with honey to stay well, build resistance to cold and flu and speed up healing. Garlic can also ward off colds and flu. Garlic contains the immune-boosting compound allicin, also know to relieve cold and flu symptoms. Chop it up, put it in some hot water and guzzle it down.
Salt Water and Steam
Saltwater has long been used to ease sore throats and keep respiratory passages moist and free from invading pathogens. You can put it in a mister like nasal spray or even gargle it. Steam also works. It gets rid of that stuffiness and congestion. Boil a pot of water on the stove and then slowly breathe in the steam. This will open up your nasal passages and give you some relief.
Finally, if your body is telling you to take it easy, do it! Don't press on with daily responsibilities or exercise in the face of severe cold or flu symptoms. Rest is another way of supporting the body’s ability to fight infection. And don’t skimp on nighttime sleep. Good sleep cycles help the immune system work well, so it’s important to get your full sleep cycle in every night.
Many of the traditional home remedies, when used properly and regularly, can be your body’s best, and least expensive defense against colds and the flu, also helping to minimize their impact if you contract them. So try some of these natural remedies out. You might be surprised how quickly they work.
David Novak’s byline has appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world. He’s an avid health enthusiast, and frequently is featured in regional and national health publications. He is also a weekly writer for Healthline. To visit his other stories on Healthline, visit http://www.healthline.com/.