It is that time of the year again when coughing, sneezing and sniffling rules the season. Although winter helps you enjoy your cup of hot brewing coffee it also brings a tale of woes: Cold & Flu.
Cold and flu seem insignificant but if you go back to the last time you had one you will remember how taxing it is on your body.
So, before jumping into the ways to treat cold and flu, lets first distinguish between the two.
The “common” cold is something nearly everyone encounters. You would be surprised to know that more than 200 different viruses can cause the common cold, the rhinovirus being the most common. It is responsible for 30% to 50% of all colds. So if you are having symptoms like a sore throat, sneezing, coughing, you are probably having a Cold.
On the other hand, if you are having all the above-mentioned symptoms plus fever, headache, extreme fatigue, muscle aches, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, you’re more likely to have the Flu. Flu is caused by three types of viruses: influenza A, influenza B, and influenza C. India witnessed the worst outbreak of the Swine flu (influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus), 2009-10 when the disease killed more than 2,700 people across the country.
In simple words, a cold isn’t as bad as flu. With cold, the symptoms are contagious for first 2-3 days and symptoms last for a week. The flu, on the other hand, is more severe, last for 1-2 weeks and can result in more serious complications.
But thankfully there are some natural immunity boosters which can help prevent and soothe the painful symptoms of cold and flu. Have a look:
1. Giloy: It is an effective immunity modulator and helps build a strong immune system. You can get Giloy powder or juice from an Ayurvedic store or buy online and have it with honey or lukewarm water.
2. Andrographis (Kalamegha): Also known as Bhunimba meaning “Neem of Earth”, owing to its bitter neem like taste, this herb is effective in preventing both cold and flu. Some preliminary research says that Andrographis reduces the risk of catching a cold by 50% after two months of continuous use. However, be careful; the safety and effectiveness of Andrographis preparations are still unknown. Consult your doctor before taking this herb.
3. Echinacea: This plant has been used as a traditional herbal remedy to prevent cold and flu. Several species of this herbal plant has been used to make medicine from its flowers, leaves and roots. Some studies say that Echinacea reduces the chances of catching a cold by 58 percent.
4. Tulsi: Tulsi leaves boost production of antibodies thereby preventing infections. Add 3-4 tulsi leaves to a glass of boiling water. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Have this drink 2-3 times a day to prevent any symptom of cold and flu.
5. Ginger: The health benefits of ginger has been touted for centuries. A few slices of ginger in hot water along with few drops of honey can make a soothing drink for a sore throat.
6. Honey: With loads of antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, honey is not only heavenly for your taste buds but also helps ease sore throat pain. It is also an effective cough suppressant. Take a teaspoonful of honey before going to bed at night to reduce the severity of cough symptoms.
“Take the juice of ginger, crush some tulsi leaves and add few drops of honey to it. This mixture is best to prevent cold and flu, especially for children and elders”, according to Dr. Shekhar Tanwar, Satyog Ayurveda.
7. Panax Ginseng: Also known as Asian Ginseng, is a good immunity booster. It can also help keep cold and flu at bay. Check with your doctor before taking this herb.
8. Talispatra: The leaves of this medicinal herb can be used fresh, dried, as tincture or infusion. You can have it with honey in recommended amounts to prevent cold and flu.
9. Peppermint (Pudina): With great taste, Pudina is good to prevent cold. You can add few Pudina leaves to lukewarm water and drink it daily or just add just add few dried crushed Pudina leaves to curd or salads for added benefits.
10. Raw Garlic: Garlic, with its antiviral properties boosts immunity and help prevent the common cold. You can even try garlic supplements to escape the strong odor of fresh garlic.
11. Jaggery (Gur): Jaggery help boosts immunity and is a very good to prevent cold and flu. So instead of having a slice of chocolate cake, have some gur for your sweet tooth. You may also add it to your daily glass of milk.
12. Turmeric (Haldi): This is one of the most effective natural remedies, to increase immunity against cold and flu viruses. Take a glass of lukewarm water, mix a pinch of turmeric powder, a little honey and ginger to the drink. Make it a habit to have this drink daily.
Also Read: Turmeric Powder Benefits
13. Clove (Laung): Clove boosts immunity and will help you get rid of phlegm if you happen to catch a cold. Just add a few cloves in your morning cup of tea and enjoy a congestion-free day.
14. Vitamin C: Increase the intake of fruits such as amla, oranges, limes, grapes, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C during winter. Also having hot tea with few drops of lemon will give you relief from a sore throat. Although Vitamin C won’t help you get rid of cold and flu, it can help build a stronger immune system to protect you from getting cold and flu.
Quick tips to keep distance from Cold & Flu
a) Wash your hands properly with soap and water to prevent the spread of cold viruses and avoid touching your face, eyes, nose. Sanitize your hands with alcohol-based hand gels after touching contaminated surfaces at work-place like door-knobs, mouse, chair handles etc.
b) Increase your water intake and have hot tea and liquids.
c) Finally, keep moving and maintain a healthy diet.
So which natural immunity boosters are you taking to prevent cold and flu?