It’s easy to grab over-the-counter or prescription drugs to deal with colds or flu, but the reality is that few of these medicines are actually effective against viruses. Instead, they may temporarily reduce symptoms. But, if you want serious anti-viral activity, you’ll want to reach for proven natural remedies that work against viruses.
Here are some of the most effective natural medicines for dealing with colds and flu:
Not just for sprinkling on your latte, cinnamon has been found to be effective against multiple virus strains when used as part of an essential oil blend also containing eucalyptus and rosemary. Published in the medical journal Microbiology Open, researchers found that cinnamon essential oil was effective against flu viruses. Cinnamon essential oil must be used with caution as it is extremely potent. It should be extremely diluted for topical applications. Avoid internal use unless using a product that has been specifically formulated and diluted for this purpose.
While this herb has been the subject of controversy, the reality is that it has been shown in multiple studies to be highly effective against flu viruses, including in a German medical journal. Follow package instructions for the product you choose.
Touted by herbalists for centuries as one of the best natural remedies against the flu, research published in the Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research proved that the recommendation was justified as elderberries have potent antiviral effects, which increase with the dose size. Follow package directions for the elderberry syrup or tea you select or make your own.
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Garlic is a long-held remedy against infections of all kinds but research in Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine proves garlic’s effectiveness against respiratory conditions like bronchitis, which is a common complication of the flu. Add fresh, raw garlic to soups, stews or crush and add to a teaspoon of honey.
Tea made from fresh gingerroot is a natural favorite against colds and flu. Research supports its use against flu viruses and found it to be antiviral against the avian flu. To make: coarsely chop a 2-inch piece of gingerroot and add to one quart (or one Liter) of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for one hour. Remove from the heat, strain and drink three cups daily for best results.
According to research published in the medical journal Genomics and Informatics, green tea contains compounds known as theaflavins, which demonstrate strong inhibitory reactions against flu viruses. Drink three cups daily for best results.
Well known as a natural remedy for many infectious conditions, according to research published in the Archives of Medical Research, scientists have also determined that honey, and Manuka honey in particular, has antiviral properties against flu viruses.
Lemon balm, or melissa, is a well-documented antiviral herb. Research in the medical journal Virusdisease found that the essential oil of the plant prevented the virus’ ability to replicate, which is necessary for the disease to spread or survive. This particular study documented the herb’s effectiveness against the avian flu.
OREGANO ESSENTIAL OIL
While little testing has specifically been done on oregano oil and flu viruses, the plant exhibits potent anti-viral activity as indicated in a study published in the journal Food Chemistry, suggesting it may have effectiveness against flu viruses as well. And, occasionally, people mistake the flu for strep throat, a bacterial infection. In that case, research in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology found that oregano was effective against strep infections, including strep throat.
Research published in the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology found that supplementation with some probiotics, including Lactobacillus plantarum can prevent the flu virus from replicating, which it needs to do to survive and spread. Blocking this process may be helpful in preventing or treating flu viruses.
If your spice cabinet is complete enough to include the licorice-tasting spice known as star anise, you’ll want to start adding it to tea or the spiced tea blend known as chai. Not only will it lend a delightful flavor, it has antiviral properties that may lend themselves to flu prevention and treatment. It contains a substance known as shikimic acid, which the pharmaceutical industry synthesized to create the flu drug Oseltamivir.
Research in the medical journal Phytotherapy Research found that thyme essential oil, in conjunction with tea tree and eucalyptus reduced viral infectivity by more than 96 percent.
While the media frequently bashes this essential vitamin necessary for immune system health, research published in the journal Nutrition assessed the role of vitamin C in the treatment of colds and flu and found it to be highly effective, even against new strains of flu unaffected by other medical treatments.
Long touted as a natural immune system booster, it turns out that vitamin D also reduces the incidence of flu through prevention of the condition in the first place. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists found that supplementing with vitamin D3 significantly reduced the incidence of flu.