We recently did a post on 5 Ways to Prevent Getting Sick This Cold & Flu Season, which you can read here if you missed it. While prevention is key for ensuring you have a strong and healthy immune system, sometimes life happens and you just get sick!
Your standard drugstore cold and flu remedies often just cover up the symptoms and don’t really strengthen your immune system or help you to recover quickly. So today, I want to talk about natural cold and flu remedies that actually work.
A quick reminder that this is not medical advice and if you have any health conditions or allergies, please consult with your healthcare provider before taking any new products or giving herbs to children.
Some of the preventative recommendations that hold true for preventing a cold, are still really important for making sure you have a quick recovery. As I’ve outlined in the past, when you don’t get enough sleep, even just less than 7 hours, your immune system suffers, especially when you’re already sick. Sugar also prevents your immune system from working properly. When I say sugar, I mean added sugars or excess sugars found in drinks like Gatorade, Vitamin Water or OJ, which you may be inclined to reach for thanks to many years of good marketing.
Your mucous membranes, which includes the cells that line your nose to your lungs, produce - you guessed it - mucus! Mucus’ role is to lubricate these membranes to keep your airways moist so they work properly, and to filter substances, like dirt, dust or bacteria you inhale or ingest. These membranes are much better at trapping and removing viruses or bacteria when they’re well hydrated. To keep them hydrated, drink lots of water and good quality soups, especially bone broth, and avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee or alcohol. You can even help them along with steam from hot water or a humidifier, since dry air can even be dehydrating.
Allium Sativum (Garlic): Garlic contains a number of compounds that have been widely researched for their many antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory benefits (to name a few). In fact, garlic was known as “Russian Penicillin” in World War 2 for how well it worked! You can always chop up and eat a lot of fresh garlic, but if that sounds too intense, St. Francis Herb Farm Oreganum Plus® is a garlic oil supplement you can take. It can help to relieve the symptoms associated with inflammation in the upper respiratory tract, like sinusitis (sinus inflammation), colds, and even allergies.
Echinacea: Echinacea has long been used as a herbal remedy to fight infections but there are a variety of echinacea products on the market and the quality and effectiveness can vary. St. Francis Herb Farm has a product called EchinAce® that’s made with both E. purpurea and E. angustifolia. A 2007 meta-analysis examining 14 studies where echinacea was used, showed a shorter duration for colds and, as an added bonus, a reduction in the tendency to catch colds by 58%. Four of the 14 studies used a combination of E. purpurea and E. angustifolia, while seven used E. purpurea exclusively.
EchinaSera is St. Francis Herb Farms children’s echinacea formula that is suitable for kids with an upper respiratory tract infection.
Oil of Oregano: This is not the tastiest of options, but certainly works! Like echinacea and Allium sativum, oil of oregano is best for short term use and at the first sign of a cold. It contains something called carvacrol, which can break through a cell membrane to protect against bacteria. Bonus – it’s also great for digestion!
Zinc and vitamin C are two nutrients I recommend keeping on hand for when you’re getting sick or are sick as they’re both key nutrients for the immune system. In a 2015 review of 16 studies conducted on the therapeutic benefits of zinc, the researchers found that zinc (ideally 75mg or more) administered within 24 hours of onset of symptoms reduces the duration of common cold symptoms in healthy people. Vitamin C is one of the most the most well-researched nutrients when it comes to the common cold but one study in particular found that vitamin C administered in doses of at least 6-8g/day were able to reduce the duration of colds between 17 and 19 percent compared to the placebo.
If after everything you couldn’t dodge the cold or flu, St. Francis Herb Farm has a whole line of products called their Stop it Cold® line.I love them because they’re natural remedies that effectively reduce symptoms and get to the root of the problem. One of my favourite products is their Stop It Cold® Throat Spray. Unlike lozenges for example, I personally have found it to be much more effective at relieving symptoms of sore throat and helping to recover faster. It contains a combination of echinacea, liquorice, marshmallow, and propolis that have immunological and antiseptic properties that relieve the dry, itchy sore throats so common with colds, the flu, or infections like tonsillitis. Quick note: This is not to be taken while pregnant.
Stop It Cold® Kids Cough Syrup can help relieve symptoms of colds and flus in children, like calming coughs, reducing fevers and soothing and coating sore throats. It contains ingredients like organic honey, lemon peel and cinnamon.
For chest complaints, like excess mucus, coughs and even bronchitis, a product you can try is Respirafect®. It soothes inflamed and irritated mucous membranes and helps the lungs eliminate excess mucus, which your body develops as a response to illness.
If you’re wondering where to find these products, most local health food stores carry St Francis products.
This article was written in partnership with St. Francis Herb Farm. All opinions are my own.