Natural cold and flu remedies and why they work

The flu virus is ruthless and smart. It evolves each season in antigenic shift that attacks our bodies, hoping that we won’t have the necessary antibodies to protect ourselves against the new strain. This constant changing enables the virus to evade the immune system, so that people are susceptible to the flu throughout life. That is why we need to think about ways to build the strength and immunity of the body so that it can easily fight off any new virus. Natural ingredients and remedies are arguably the best to support and protect the body against the vile flu and cold viruses, helping us feel better, faster.

Know what to worry about

There are some symptoms your body needs in order to get well faster, and we shouldn’t immediately disapprove of our cough or high fever because they are actually working in our favour. A cough clears your breathing passages and is a mechanism to get rid of the germ-infested phlegm, which is also why you should always blow your snot out instead of swallowing it back down.

Another mechanism is getting feverish, which is your body's way of trying to kill viruses by creating a hotter-than-normal environment. A fever's hot environment also makes germ-killing proteins in your blood circulate more quickly and effectively. So we don’t want to necessarily treat these symptoms because they can actually help us get better, and that’s why natural remedies work so wekk. Instead of dealing with individual symptoms, they aid the body’s fight against bacteria and viruses as the cause of your illness.

Prevention before cure

Abiding by a wholesome lifestyle with regular sleep, exercise and healthy food can go a long way in preventing illness and providing the support the body needs to function optimally. To really boost the immune system before the enemy can multiply, Wellness Mama recommends completely removing all white foods from the diet. This includes grains, sugars, milk, cheese, dairy, sweeteners, soda, etc. 

Instead you should be eating warm chicken soup and drinking ginger, chilli, honey and lemon, or herb-infused hot liquids throughout the season to keep strength up. The heat helps boost your immune system and a variety of herbs and natural ingredients can help with infection. Lemon, for example, is a great ingredient for loosening mucous and phlegm. Plus, lemon’s antibacterial property and high vitamin C content improves the body’s resistance to infections. Ginger and chilli are a natural decongestant. Honey may also fight bacterial infections thanks to its antimicrobial properties.

Sore throat remedies

The flu begins with a sore throat. This is because the flu virus is inhaled or consumed and enters through the throat cavity where it locks onto the throat cells. The virus tricks the throat cells into thinking they are good cells so that they can multiply and spread. But a healthy immune system can kill these virus cells faster than they can kill us, and of course if we provide the body with the right sustenance, it will do its job excellently.

WebMD has a sore throat remedy for this initial phase: Gargle a glass of warm water, a teaspoon of salt and a squeeze of lemon. The salt will soothe the pain, and the lemon creates an acidic environment that’s hostile to bacteria and viruses. Salt-water rinsing also helps break nasal congestion, while removing virus particles and bacteria from your nose. Here's the magic formula:

  • Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in a cup of warm water.
  • Use a bulb syringe or nasal irrigation kit to squirt water into the nose.
  • Hold one nostril closed by applying light finger pressure while squirting the salt mixture into the other nostril. Let it drain.
  • Repeat two to three times, and then treat the other nostril.

Mucous congestion busters

The muocus is a part of your body’s defense army that acts as a sort of flypaper, trapping unwanted substances like bacteria and dust before they can get into the body. Cinnamon is a natural aid for this mucous army because it is an effective antiviral and antibiotic.

Try Wellness Mama’s recipes for this: 

  • Mix 1 tablespoon of cinnamon with 1 teaspoon of honey to make a spicy tea that helps relieve congestion.
  • Make a face steam by boiling 1-2 cups of water and add 2 teaspoons each of thyme, rosemary and oregano. Cover the pot for 5 minutes with a lid, and then remove the lid and put your face directly over the pot with a towel covering your head to hold in the heat. Aim for 15 minutes of breathing in the steam. This will help loosen congestion and kill viruses and bacteria in the lungs, bronchials or sinuses. Alternately, you can use 1/2 cup vinegar in the steam. It won’t smell great, but it will help fight the illness.

Fight fever and fatigue

As much as what these ailments are actually mechanisms to help fight off the virus, they can be somewhat unbearable. The best support you can give is to stay well hydrated with water and herbal teas and to rest enough. For when it gets super nasty you can try this tip from Wellness Mama:

  • Slice onion and garlic and place them all over the bottom of your foot. Rub olive oil on the foot first to help with absorption. Then wrap the foot in plastic wrap and place a sock on overnight.
  • Or soak your feet in a mustard footbath. The mustard draws blood to your feet, which helps to relieve congestion. For this mix 1 tablespoon of mustard powder in a 1L hot water footbath.
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