out all of Charlotte Bradley's
the Season for late night wrap sessions, festive baking, and joyous
celebration. Throw in a poor diet, and the inevitable holiday sleep loss, and
before you can sing "Let it Snow," you've got the makings of a long, miserable
cold and flu season.
Though there are many
over-the-counter cough and cold remedies, people are seeking a more natural way
to take care of themselves when they are sick. And with good reason. Last year
in the US alone there were 987 recalls on prescription and over-the-counter medications, including many
used for the treatment of cough and colds.
What's more, medications
commonly used to alleviate symptoms are contraindicated with other
prescriptions; meaning many people simply cannot take cold and flu medicine to
help them feel better.
Drugs, especially those used for the common
cold, do not actually help you to heal, nor do they prevent the onset of
sickness in the first place. Pharmaceutical drugs merely mask the symptoms you
are feeling in order to allow you to continue with your hectic schedule,
offering only temporary relief. Unfortunately, this is in direct conflict with
what your body actually needs in order to make itself well - plenty of rest and
fluids. There really is no substitute for taking the time you need to feel
Enter holistic medicine, a world where the very
foods we eat and ways we pamper ourselves have a profound impact on our health
and well being. Natural remedies offer a safe alternative to preventing
illness, alleviating symptoms, as well as a way to pamper yourself and become
more in tune with your body’s needs. After all, luxuriating in a hot bath is as
effective as cough medicine for helping relieve chest congestion, but infinitely
more fun and relaxing. There are natural remedies that will help you feel better
in safe manner and in some cases, even allow you some delicious holiday
indulgence (in the name of good health of course).
A quick web search reveals there are more ideas
for cold remedies than perhaps you might imagine. They fall into three general
categories: healthy lifestyle, herbal supplements and “superfoods” that prevent
illness and get you back on track.
A Healthy Lifestyle
The secret to staying healthy may be as simple
as releasing ourselves from the notion that we must eat or swallow some magic
elixir in order to feel better. A healthy, active lifestyle will go a long way
in preventing illness in the first place.
1. Rest - Your body simply
cannot function without adequate rest, and if you allow yourself to get run down
your body will respond by forcing you to bed rest at the absolute worst time.
2. Exercise - Twenty minutes
to an hour a day of moderate exercise actually boosts your immune system
function. And should you exercise when sick? The jury's still out on this one,
however common sense indicates that your body could probably better use its
energy stores getting healthy than doing lunges and squats. You might just want
to skip the gym for a couple days and rest up.
3. Yoga -Yoga is excellent
for strengthening your immune system, but is also a gentle exercise designed to
align body and mind. This physical awareness brought about through regular
practice will help prevent illness in the first place and unlike some of the
more strenuous forms of exercise,
practicing yoga when ill can be very helpful in relieving symptoms of a cold
(such as sinus congestion and body aches).
4. Handwashing - This is the
one method of preventing illness in the first place that even the most diehard
skeptic of holistic health practices cannot dispute. Frequent handwashing,
especially before eating or drinking will prevent the spread of germs.
There are those times of the year and periods
in our lives where we are more susceptible to illness: the holiday season with
all its hustle and bustle is a prime example. Herbal supplements, taken upon
advisement of your physician, can be a great way to bolster your immune system
and keep you feeling in top shape - even in less than ideal conditions.
1. Astragalus – This herbal
supplement usually found as a tea should be taken as a preventive measure (i.e.,
when you know you’ll be up late preparing for the holidays, or enduring the
winter months.). Since you'll become resistant to its benefits if taken too
long, experts suggest a three-week on-off cycle with other immunity boosters
such as echinacea.
2. Andrographis paniculata -
Studies suggest this cold-buster, taken at first sign of a cold, will ward off
common symptoms such as headache, runny nose, and sore throat.
3. Eleuthero - This supplement
was formerly called Siberian ginseng. Believed to bolster your ability to ward
off infections, it should be taken as a tablet or tea before stressful periods.
While it's true the use of herbal supplements
dates almost back to our earliest history, many people shy away from them. If
herbal supplements are not something you're willing to try, there are plenty of
foods you can eat that will quell even the nastiest of germ. We all know about
the amazing restorative properties of food and drinks such as chicken noodle
soup, hot tea, and orange juice. Here are a few surprising additions to your
1. Herbs and spices have a
high level of antioxidants, which are proven immune boosters. Oregano in
particular is mentioned because it has special antimicrobial properties:
oregano leaves are often used as a wrap for food to help prevent spoilage.
2. Peppers - Red bell peppers
have twice the amount of vitamin C per gram as many of the vitamin C-containing
fruits. Despite some criticism of vitamin C’s cold fighting properties, it’s
been proven to diminish the severity and duration of colds.
Hot peppers contain capsaicin - the compound responsible for making your nose
run and clearing your sinuses.
3. Garlic - Crushed garlic
contains a chemical called allicin - an antibiotic and decongestant.
Unfortunately, this chemical is broken down during cooking, so for the best
results your garlic should be eaten raw or added to food right before serving.
4. Seafood - Once again it’s
the antioxidants in seafood that help boost immune system function. Omega 3
fatty acids are powerful flu fighters and anti-inflammatory.
5. Yogurt - Though you should
never eat dairy during bouts of vomiting, yogurt promotes healthy bacteria
growth in your stomach. This is good news because over 70 percent of your
body's immune function comes from the digestive tract.
6 . Chocolate - A dark
chocolate with no less than 70 percent cocoa contains theobromine - a cough
suppressant. In fact, two ounces of dark chocolate will deliver the same
results as your typical dose of cough medicine!
Even with little or no treatment, the average
cold runs its course in about 10 days. Those first couple of days can be awful,
but remembering this is your body's way of telling you to slow down and get some
rest can help you feel better. With increasing concern over the safety of OTC
medications to alleviate cold and flu symptoms, taking a holistic approach to
your well being may offer some relief and perhaps even a dose of preventive
medicine. You should always consult your physician before trying any new
remedies, especially if you are taking prescription medication for other
Charlotte Bradley is the publisher of
and an avid yoga practitioner. She was a student of karate for many
years and took up yoga only tentatively after the birth of her sons
and a knee injury left her looking for a less high-impact form of
exercise. It was love at first pose as Charlotte saw how quickly
yoga sped her rehabilitation along. She also found that yogic
relaxation techniques lent her proper focus, bringing balance into
her life as well as a greater appreciation for how blessed she truly
is. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband and twin boys,
Charlie and Patty, who keep her on her feet and on the go. Her
golden retriever supervises Charlotte’s yoga workouts from a spare
mat, with his eyes closed.