As we head deeper into fall and edge ever closer to the winter season, there’s another season that’s also coming: Cold and flu season. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways we can support our immune systems to prevent getting sick. If and when you do, there are also natural ways you can make yourself feel better, such as this homemade cold remedy. Let us help you be prepared for cold and flu season this year so that you can actually enjoy the winter.
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The Natural Cold Remedy That Will Save You This Winter
Stuffed-up sinuses, nausea, sore throats – all of these are normal symptoms of a cold. Sometimes they aren’t too strong, while other times they really knock you off of your feet. There are hundreds of cold remedies out there that can help you, as well as medications that your doctor or pharmacist can recommend. Thankfully, there is a cold remedy that is easy and relatively inexpensive to make. This will be a recipe you will want to have on hand as the weather gets cooler.
Read: Are Essential Oils the Secret Weapon to Survive Allergy Season?
Winter Sore Throat Cold Remedy Tea
This cold remedy contains some ingredients that have natural cold-fighting benefits. People have used them for hundreds (if not thousands) of years to naturally ease symptoms while their immune system does its job. These ingredients are lemon, ginger, and honey. Lemon is a source of vitamin C, ginger has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory effects, and honey helps to soothe an achy throat. (1, 2) To make two cups of the tea, you will need:
- 2 cleaned and sliced lemons
- 2 pieces of ginger that are approximately the size of your pointer and middle finger. Slice them into coin-sized pieces
- About 1 cup of honey, or to your preference.
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
Get a clean, sterilized 12 to 16-ounce jar. Add the lemon and ginger slices, then add the honey in overtop. Wait until the honey has fully dripped down and filled in all of the gaps/spaces. There should be enough to cover the lemon and ginger slices fully. Close the jar and put it into the fridge. It will eventually turn into a kind of jelly. Once it has, spoon a couple of tablespoons of the jelly into a mug, add boiling water and stir to mix. Once it is at the proper temperature, drink up. You can keep the jelly for two to three months sealed in the fridge.
Other Ways to Support Your Immune System
The best way you can help your immune system is to eat well, sleep well, limit alcohol consumption, and exercise regularly and to an appropriate intensity. There are, however, some supplements you can take that will help give your immune system a little extra oomf during the cold and flu season. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a supplement that 100% prevents or “cures” any one illness. They simply support the functions that your body’s organs already perform. Also remember to always check with your doctor before adding new supplements, especially if you are already on medications or if you have any preexisting conditions.
Read: 9 Benefits of NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine): The ‘Do-It-All Supplement’ You’ve Never Heard Of
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D – the vitamin that we synthesize in our skin from the sun – is critical for immune function. It helps make our white blood cells, which are the cells that fight infections and viruses, function better. Vitamin D also decreases inflammation which helps improve our immune response. (3) Low vitamin D status is associated with upper respiratory tract infections and illnesses, such as flu and allergy-related asthma. (4)
Unfortunately, most people, especially those who live in colder climates, are deficient in the ‘sun vitamin.’ Supplements are relatively inexpensive and accessible, however, mind your intake – more is not better, in this case. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that your body can store it. This means that if you take too much, you can reach toxicity levels. Look for supplements between 1,000 IU and 4,000 IU, taking higher doses in the fall and winter months and less in the summer when your sun exposure is greater.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is probably the first vitamin you think of when you think about boosting your immune system. This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant that helps keep your cells fresh and healthy, as well as protecting against oxidative stress and damage. (5) Vitamin C has shown to decrease the length and severity of upper respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold. (6) This vitamin is especially important for people under high physical stress, such as soldiers and marathon runners, and also people with severe infections. (7, 8) Look for supplements 250 and 1,000mg. (9)
Zinc is a mineral that is essential for improving the functioning of your immune system. It is required for cell development and communication, the inflammatory response, and protecting the body against foreign pathogens. (10) Zinc deficiency has proven to increase the risk of deep respiratory infections, and can also reduce the duration of the common cold. (11,12) Keep your daily dosage under the daily upper limit of 40mg of elemental zinc.
4. Medicinal Mushrooms
Various kinds of mushrooms have been used by groups of people for thousands of years for a number of ailments. Since then, scientists and medical practitioners have studied medicinal mushrooms to look for validating proof of their illness-fighting properties. Currently, there are over 270 recognized species of medicinal mushrooms known to have immune-boosting properties. (13) Some that are specifically known for this are shitake, reishi, lion’s mane, maitake, turkey tail, and cordyceps. (14) You can find medicinal mushrooms in the form of tinctures, teas, and supplements. As always, talk to your doctor first, particularly if you are already on medications or have any preexisting conditions.
Other Immune-Boosting Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs
Of course, these aren’t the only four substances that have shown to have immune-supporting effects. Others include garlic, elderberry, B-complex vitamins, Curcumin (found in turmeric), echinacea, propolis, licorice, and selenium all have shown some capacity for this as well. They all need more research, however, to be able to say definitively that they do help with specific illnesses, including as a cold remedy. (15) Again, your best immune system enhancement tool is a healthy lifestyle: Good food, good sleep, and regular exercise. Supplements are exactly what they say they are – supplementary. They only work if they are combined with a proper lifestyle. Always speak to your doctor or healthcare practitioner before starting a new supplement regime.
Keep Reading: 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Gut Health: Recognize The Signs of an Unhealthy Gut
- “Therapeutic potential of ginger against COVID-19: Is there enough evidence?” NCBI. Abdollah Jafarzadeh, et al. October 2021.
- “Is it true that honey calms coughs better than cough medicine does?” Mayo Clinic
- “Vitamin D: Effect on Haematopoiesis and Immune System and Clinical Applications.” NCBI. Mayte Medrano, et al. September 2018.
- “Vitamin D and Immune Function.” NCBI. Barbara Prietl, et al. July 2013.
- “Vitamin C and Immune Function.” PubMed. Anitra C Carr and Silvia Maggini. November 2017.
- “Vitamin C and Immune Function.” NCBI. Anitra C. Carr and and Silvia Maggini. November 2017.
- “Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold.” PubMed. Harri Hemilä and Elizabeth Chalker. January 2013.
- “The Emerging Role of Vitamin C as a Treatment for Sepsis.” NCBI. Markos G. Kashiouris, et al. February 2020.
- “Vitamin C.” NIH
- “Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function.” NCBI. Inga Wessels, et al. December 2017.
- “Zinc: An Essential Micronutrient.” NCBI. ROBERT B. SAPER, MD, MPH and REBECCA RASH, MA. February 2010.
- “Zinc lozenges and the common cold: a meta-analysis comparing zinc acetate and zinc gluconate, and the role of zinc dosage.” NCBI. Harri Hemilä. May 2017.
- “Trametes versicolor Mushroom Immune Therapy in Breast Cancer.” NCBI. Leanna J. Standish, ND, PhD, LAc, et al. March 2010.
- “A safety assessment of Coriolus versicolor biomass as a food supplement.” NCBI. Ana B. Barros, et al. 2016.
- “The 15 Best Supplements to Boost Your Immune System Right Now.” Healthline. Jillian Kubala, MS, RD. April 19, 2021.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.