As we enter the New Year, cold and flu season is in full swing. You’re walking away from the people having sneezing fits in public, and avoiding co-workers who have been blowing their noses all day. Before reaching for a bottle of over-the-counter pharmaceuticals, consider using a tried-and-true natural remedy as defense against the germs around you. Natural treatments may not taste great, but there are plenty of ways to disguise the harsh flavors. This winter, try out these three natural cold and flu remedies:
1. Horseradish – Look for raw horseradish root in the produce section of your local natural foods store, it should be near the ginger. The fresh root is supposedly more effective than when it’s preserved. This centuries-old remedy is recommended by herbalists to treat flu, colds, and lung congestion. Horseradish is known to help drain the sinuses and may also prevent sinus infections, if you are prone to them. Be warned, eating a tiny piece of the fresh root may make you cough, cry, and turn your face bright red, but you should feel the immediate effect it has on your sinuses. You’ll be familiar with this sensation if you’ve ever dared to eat a bite of wasabi paste, as the Japanese condiment is made of a plant closely related to horseradish. If you’re too chicken to try eating this spicy root on its own, consider using it raw in a homemade sauce or dressing.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) – In addition to its popular uses in pickling and dressings, this substance is known to be a powerful home remedy as it alkalizes the body and may help kill viruses and bacteria. It doesn’t taste great on its own, but you can mix a tablespoon or two into water, juice or sparkling water to help wash it down. It’s best to use the unfiltered organic variety. If you’re daring enough, mix a concoction of ACV with cayenne pepper and honey to help kick your cold germs to the curb. Drinking a bit of ACV in water every morning may also keep your immune system in check.
3. Oil of Oregano – Like the previously mentioned remedies, Oil of Oregano does not taste great on its own, but the known health benefits make it worth it to give this stuff a try. And of course, you can hide the strong flavor by mixing into food, like spaghetti sauce, or adding a dropperful into a mug of strong herbal tea with honey. The list of symptoms this substance can reportedly treat is long, but but it includes cold, flu and sinusitis. Oregano oil contains many compounds with beneficial antioxidant properties, including natural antiseptics, antivirals and antihistamines. A sampling of the additional uses for oregano oil includes treatment of bacterial urinary tract infections, yeast infections, parasitic infections and cold sores.
Some experts say that using over the counter medicine can actually prolong the duration of a cold or flu, so it’s definitely worth it to at least give these natural remedies a try before resorting to chemical drugs.