We all know that when we have a cold or flu we should rest, keep our fluids up, eat chicken soup and load up on vitamin C. But there’s more we can be doing to help us shorten the duration of and resolve infections.
Support a fever
Rather than taking paracetamol and suppressing a fever, try supporting it. A fever is the body’s way of trying to get the bug out of your system. By raising our body temperature it makes the body an inhospitable place for bacteria and viruses. By using diaphoretic herbs, i.e. herbs that help you sweat, you can help the fever do its job. Try drinking ginger and YEP (yarrow, elderflower and peppermint) tea. Try 1 tbsp of dried herb, 2 slices of fresh ginger and 250ml boiling water, then steep for five minutes. Drink, rug up, rest and sweat it out!
Alternatively make a hot drink with 1 clove of crushed garlic, 3 slices of ginger, 1/2 squeezed lemon, half a chopped chilli (add honey if you like) then steep for 10 minutes. Drink, rug up, rest and let your body do the rest. Try three to four cups a day.
Soothe a sore throat
I am a big fan of herbal throat sprays and think they should be a staple in the medicine chest. The best anti-bacterial remedy for infected throats is this garlic oxymel. You can also try the Ethical Nutrients or the Mediherb throat sprays available in health food shops or drink marshmallow tea to help soothe a dry and sore throat.
Dose up on herbs
Forget echinacea once a cold takes hold. The studies say it makes no difference to the severity or duration of respiratory infections if you start taking it when the bug has you in its grips. The best way to take it is preventatively. One good quality echinacea tablet a day will help ward off illness in the first place. Woo hoo for preventative medicine!
To help fight a cold once you have it, try Andrographis, Olive leaf and St John’s wort. All are immune-enhancing and/or anti-microbial herbs that will get you better sooner.
Go high dose on Vitamin C and Zinc
Everyone knows vitamin C helps fight cold and flu, and you can take quite high amounts in divided doses to support the immune response. Zinc is also very helpful. It is a mineral that is crucial for strengthening your innate immune system. Innate immunity is responsible for avoiding infection onset. Zinc as an infection prophylactic is fantastic and it is important to maintain healthy zinc levels. Please note it is important to have your plasma zinc levels monitored and to not stay on zinc for long periods of time as it can displace levels of other minerals. Please consult with your health practitioner to explore your requirement for zinc supplementation.