Sick of being sick? Your 7 must-have natural solutions.
Nose streaming, throat scratchy, chest aching… when bedridden with a cold or flu most people will do just about anything to feel better. And with more than $250 million of cold and flu remedies sold every year in Australia, it’s obvious we don’t like to take illness lying down. But a pharmaceutical free-for-all isn’t the only way to get relief.
Thankfully there are some great (natural) ways we can support our bodies’ defences, and feel better quickly if sickness does occur. Here’s your top 7 “natural weapons” – make sure you stock up.
Of all the immune boosting herbs Echinacea is one of the most recognised and frequently studied. As a cold fighting herb its popularity is enormous, with sales of over $300 million a year in the US alone. This medicinal plant was used by Native Americans for more than 400 years to treat infections, wounds and as a general “cure all”. More recently, its immune supporting properties have been in the spotlight, and scientific studies back this up.
Echinacea has been shown to help reduce the severity of common cold symptoms by 23% and the duration of symptoms by 1.5 days. It appears most effective if taken at the first sign of cold symptoms and continued for several days. Two meta-analyses also suggest that taking Echinacea may reduce the risk of developing the common cold by 45-58% - for those keen on avoiding the tissue box, those are pretty good odds1,2.
Feel a tickle in your throat already? Why not try Bosisto’s Echinacea Throat Spray – powered by Echinacea, its unique dual action helps soothe a sore throat naturally while providing valuable support for your immune system. Plus it comes in three delicious flavours – Honey and Eucalyptus, Honey and Peppermint, and Honey and Lemon.
We’ve swallowed honey to help soothe a sore throat for centuries and now science has given this age-old remedy a big, sweet tick.
A 2010 peer review concluded that honey was more effective than placebo in reducing frequency of coughs and improved sleep quality as well3. Other studies have favourably compared honey to the common over-the-counter cough suppressant dextromethorphan4. Honey coats the throat and calms the cough reflex, while also having an instantly soothing effect on inflamed throat tissues. It’s also said to have natural antimicrobial properties.
Honey is the secret ingredient in Bosisto’s Natural Cough Syrup, a delicious formula which provides natural relief for irritating coughs and sore throats. With no added sugar, artificial colours and alcohol free, it is suitable for ages 2 and over.
3. Increased humidity
Why do we get more colds in winter? Researchers have long speculated that low humidity levels, caused by
dry, air-conditioned indoor environments, might have something to do with it.
Studies have shown cold viruses live longest in arid conditions – particularly thriving at humidity levels below 40%5.
Optimum humidity not only stops bugs in its tracks but also helps our respiratory system work properly - in particular, the little hairs called ‘cillia’ which line the respiratory tract and help expel bugs and viruses. Their activity slows at 70% relative humidity and stops completely below 30%6.
What’s the perfect humidity level? Between 40-60% is ideal for health and comfort, but many homes drop below 20% or even lower in winter (if you suffer itchy eyes and dry skin in winter, this might also be why)7. A convenient way to help raise ambient humidity is to run a vaporiser – like a humidifier it helps raise humidity, but creates a sanitised flow of steam minus the bugs and microbes.
4. Saline (Nasal spray)
Before you reach for decongestant nasal sprays this winter, be very careful. Some of these can actually make your congestion worse, by irritating the delicate lining of your nose and causing ‘rebound’ congestion when you stop.
A great natural alternative is Bosisto’s Nasal Spray. This pure, natural saline spray with eucalyptus helps flush out and moisturise the sinuses, giving fast relief for allergies, colds and hayfever. You can use it with other medications, as often as you like - anytime, anywhere.
5. Eucalyptus oil
Two natural winter weapons no home should be without: Eucalyptus Oil and Spray.
Eucalyptus Oil has natural decongestant properties and is endlessly useful during flu season, from vapour inhalations to popping in a warm steamy bath or foot bath. In the morning you can even use it in the shower for an invigorating, head-clearing way to wake up. Rub the oil on your chest or feet to help clear congestion, or put a few drops on a handky and keep in your bag to inhale throughout the day (or under your pillow at night).
Bosisto’s Eucalyptus Spray is the handy spray version and it's perfect for freshening rooms when the family has been sick, and especially mattresses. As a bonus it kills 99.99 percent of germs – the perfect natural, allergy-friendly alternative to synthetic surface sprays. Use it on door handles, phones, kid’s toys, or anywhere sneezy fingers touch, for a healthy & hygienic home.
Don’t be tricked into buying boiled lollies posing as cough lozenges – if you want a natural, great tasting lozenge that’s also government approved as a therapeutic medicine, try Bosisto’s Eucalyptus Drops.
They help soothe the throat with honey plus the delicious flavours of eucalyptus and lemon, and are sugar-free so perfect for all the family.
7. Immune-boosting super foods
If your diet is less than ideal, flu season is a great excuse for an overhaul.
Healthy recipes which help feed the immune system include vitamin-rich casseroles with sweet potato, stir-fries with broccoli or home-made chicken soup. Other foods said to have ‘immune-boosting’ properties include garlic, ginger, turmeric, manuka honey, kiwi fruit, brazil nuts, oysters and omega-3 rich salmon. Foods containing gut-friendly acipdophillus may also assist our body's virus-fighting white blood cells. Don’t forget to eat plenty of protein – ie. beef, eggs and yogurt – as the amino acids are vital for our bodies to repair and recover.
Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist, see your doctor.
Sources & References
1. Evaluation of Echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold: a meta-analysis. Shah SA et al, Lancet Infect Dis 2007 July;7(7):473-80.
2. Cardiff University Common Cold Centre, Journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
3. Honey for acute cough in children (Review), Oduwole O et al, The Cochrane Library, published 2010 issue 1
4. Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Paul IM et al, Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2007 Dec;161(12):1140-6.
5. Indirect health effects of relative humidity in indoor environments. Arundel et al, Environ Health Perspect. Mar 1986;65: 351-361.
6. US Pharmacist Oct 1999