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Herbals for Cold and Flu Season
Winter might catch you off guard, but your medicine cabinet can be prepared for it. Here are some of the best herbals for relieving cold and flu symptoms this season!
Always remember to talk to your doctor or registered dietitian if you are taking herbal supplements or products to make sure it is safe for you.
Umcka (formally known as “umckaloabo”) is a geranium plant native to South Africa that has long been used in traditional African medicine. In some studies, umcka has been found to relieve symptoms of colds, sore throat, bronchitis and sinusitis. Umcka has also been found to have antiviral and antibiotic properties in killing both viruses and bacterial infections, with immune-boosting properties. This herb is often sold in syrup form, liquid extract or capsule form in many pharmacies and herbal stores.
Thyme is a common spice we probably all have in our kitchen, but it can also be used to treat colds! Native to the Mediterranean region, thyme and thyme-based preparations have been used to relieve chest and respiratory disorders, coughs, colds and bronchitis. The herb is considered an antibacterial, antifungal and spasmolytic (a treatment to relieve spasms) – fighting agents that cause bronchitis and helps to relieve spasmodic coughs. Many herbal cough syrups, and herbal cough drops will contain thyme extract. You can also buy natural thyme (mixed with peppermint) to make your own herbal tea to soothe a bronchitis cough.
Originally from Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa, English ivy has been found to reduce mucus build-up in the lungs. Some studies have noted its benefits in people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), helping them breathe easier. Ivy leaves have also been traditionally used to treat colds due to its anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties, especially for coughs and chest congestion. The plant also contains antioxidant properties that protect against cell damage. English ivy is found in extract form, syrups and dried leaves used for herbal teas.
Raw garlic is a powerful flu fighter. Garlic contains natural compounds called “allion” and “allicin” that have direct antiviral effects, according to a number of research studies. Chewing a raw clove every 3-4 hours will help you get the most flu-fighting properties from garlic. If you cannot bear the taste, cut the cloves into pieces and swallow them. You can also add chopped garlic to stir-fry or other mixed dishes. Cooked garlic still contains sulfur-based compounds that have good anti-microbial properties. Mixing crushed garlic with honey can also boost the antiviral effect of your very own home remedy.