Natural Remedies to Fight Cold and Flu

Knock out symptoms fast with these stand-out natural remedies.
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Have you had it with OTC drugs that just mask your symptoms (and often leave you feeling worse than before you took them)? Several botanicals have proven worthy of going head-to-head with those OTC drugs to knock out viruses—without side effects like grogginess—and boost immunity to boot. Some top ingredients to look for:

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Black elderberry 

Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) extract helps to short-circuit flu symptoms, especially if taken at the first sign of trouble, according to a study published in the Journal of International Medical Research. Participants in the trial who took black elderberry (Sambucol) recovered in two–three days versus an average of six days in the group not taking the extract. Researchers speculate that flavonols and compounds called anthocyanins in the berry boost immunity and have anti-inflammatory effects that ease aches, pains, and fever.

Echinacea 

The herb echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) has been used for centuries by Native Americans and other cultures to treat cold and flu symptoms. Research indicates that taking echinacea when cold symptoms first appear for seven–10 days can reduce symptoms of the common cold. Other studies have shown that echinacea may be beneficial in treating upper-respiratory infections.

Zinc 

Research shows zinc interferes with the ability of rhinoviruses (responsible for about 80% of all colds) to reproduce. Also, this mineral assists the immune system in fighting infection by blocking the rhinoviruses’ ability to dock on cell membranes. When taken within the first 24 hours of symptoms, zinc shortens the duration of a cold by about a day, according to results from six trials.

Pelargonium 

Pelargonium (Pelargonium sidoides) is an herb that has been shown to relieve a wide range of cold and flu symptoms, including chest congestion, cough, and runny nose, as well as body aches and fever. The herb appears to heighten immune response, working with the body’s immune system to help fight off viral infections. Umcka is a proprietary extract of pelargonium that has been studied and shown to be effective at alleviating common cold and flu symptoms.

Jennifer Martin is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.

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