The symptoms of the cold and flu are numerous: fever, chills, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, and feeling downright miserable. They're unmistakable -- old nemeses we hope to never meet again, yet they have a way of creeping in season after season no matter how healthy our diet or lifestyle.
The cold and the flu are both respiratory infections caused by viruses, but have differing symptoms. According to Healthline, colds come on gradually over the course of a few days with milder symptoms and can last for roughly a week. The flu, on the other hand, has more severe and intense symptoms and can last upwards of two weeks.
Plenty of rest and hydration are recommended to recoup from both the cold and the flu. Other holistic remedies, like the ones listened below, may help to provide relief and prevent illness in the first place.
Over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, NSAIDs, and decongestants may be taken if advised by a doctor or medical provider.
Cold and Flu Holistic Remedies
1. Water. Consuming enough fluids and drinking water is essential. Water with lemon is a great choice, according to WebMD, “It keeps you hydrated and loosens up stuffiness and congestion.” Lemons are also packed with vitamin C, which may make a cold slightly shorter if you consume it regularly, says WebMD.
2. Bone Broth. Along with plenty of water, drinking bone broth is a nourishing cold and flu holistic remedy. Bone broth is rich in amino acids, fats, minerals, vitamins, and collagen, among other nutrients that support healing. Chicken bone broth, in fact, contains amino acids that reduce inflammation in the respiratory system and improve digestion, according to a 2000 study from the University of Nebraska medical center.
Bone broth can be sipped on its own or added to soups and stews for a warm and hearty meal.
3. Herbal Teas. Drinking warm herbal tea, like ginger, licorice, slippery elm, and echinacea can help to soothe a sore throat. Add in a tablespoon of raw honey for even more antimicrobial and antibacterial benefits.
A drop of oil of oregano can help to reduce infections, clear sinuses, and boost the immune system, too.
4.Elderberry syrupis a holistic tonic shown to have potent healing properties of the cold and flu. A 2016 study found that when participants consumed elderberry extract lozenges, their severity and duration of cold and flu-like symptoms decreased. Elderberry syrup is also rich in flavonoids, vitamins A, C, and E, copper, zinc, potassium, and iron and can be easily added into the diet, daily.
5. Vitamin and Mineral Supplements. Certain supplements such as vitamin C, D, and zinc may help to reduce cold and flu symptoms and duration.
Taking a zinc supplement may shorten the length of colds, according to this 2015 study. The study found that taken within 24 hours of symptoms, zinc supplements could reduce a runny nose, sneezing, irritated throat, hoarseness, and cough.
Vitamin D can protect against both the cold and flu, according to a 2017 study. This vitamin can be obtained from sunlight, foods like egg yolk, meat, and fatty fish, and supplementation, which is often recommended to those who live in northern climates during the winter.
Vitamin C is necessary for immune function and collagen production, and shows some promise when consumed daily for preventing cold and flu. Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, notes however, "The data show that vitamin C is only marginally beneficial when it comes to the common cold.”
6. Sleep. Finally, rest is key to healing the body from the cold and flu. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Unplug devices, turn off Netflix, and get some much needed pillow time.
7. Aromatherapy. For congestion relief, talk with your doctor about using aromatherapy. Eucalyptus essential oil may help to open airways when put through a diffuser in your room at night. And if getting rest is difficult, calming oils like lavender may help you find some comfort.
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