Rely on home remedies to alleviate the discomfort of nasty cold and flu symptoms.
By Elizabeth Cole
Whether you're looking for drug-free alternatives or you simply prefer brewing home-made concoctions, find out why many swear by the following natural home remedies to fight cold and flu symptoms:
Your favourite spicy dish might help you to breathe easy when you're congested. That's because the best mucokinetic (mucus-moving) foods are those that are spicy. These foods trigger a release of fluids in air passages that breaks up congestion by thinning mucus and flushing out sinuses. The mouth-burning agent in chilli peppers is capsaicin, which is similar to a drug found in many over-the-counter cough syrups and expectorants. Garlic, onions and horseradish also contain agents that have a chemical resemblance to drugs found in drugstore medications. For a strong � but nearly instant � method of breaking up chest congestion, try the following recipe from Jean Carper's book, Food, Your Miracle Medicine (Harpercollins, 1993): Mix a half teaspoon of hot sauce in a small glass of water and drink the mixture quickly.
According to research by Dr. James North, at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, garlic can prevent cold and flu viruses if taken early enough. North's findings show that garlic is effective in killing the human rhinovirus, which causes colds. Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D. and author of Natural Health, Natural Medicine (Walker & Co., 1998) also believes in the cold-fighting benefits of garlic: "The best home remedy I have found for colds is to eat several cloves of raw garlic at the first onset of symptoms... Cut in chunks and swallow whole like pills... I recommend one or two cloves a day."
Onion it out
From Michael Murray, author of Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Prima Health, 1998) comes this recipe for Onion Cough Syrup: "Put six chopped white onions in a double boiler and add half a cup of honey. Cook slowly over low heat for two hours and strain. Take at regular intervals, preferably warm." A simpler suggestion, if you can manage it, involves eating one large, Spanish onion before going to bed. Raw or roasted, it doesn't matter - your cold should be much better, if not gone, by morning because onions contain the same antibacterial components as garlic.
"Raw, unpasteurized honey soothes sore throats and raspy voices," says D.C. Jarvis, M.D., and author of Folk Medicine (Ballantine Books, 1982). He suggests eating a spoonful or two as needed, or mixing it with fruit juice, herbal teas or pure water.
Ginger is particularly valuable for flu-fighting, as it has been proven to attack and destroy influenza viruses. Try swallowing raw ginger, in the same manner as garlic, or making a strong ginger tea. To make ginger tea, grate about half a cup of fresh ginger root, place in a glass or ceramic container, cover with two cups of freshly boiled water and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Then add a dash of hot sauce, or the juice of one lemon, or two tablespoons of raw honey, depending on your preferred taste. Sip throughout the day.