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Dr Sarah Brewer. ‘Very high doses have been used medically to clear certain persistent viral infections, but it is more commonly used in lower doses to help prevent the common cold.’
As well as increasing your fruit intake, comforting veggies such as sweet potatoes and winter squash contain valuable levels of vitamin C. And if you do succumb to the sniffles, fill up on omega-3-rich oily fish, walnuts and
WHAT TO DO:B breathing rate helps flush bacteria out of your lungs, your white blood cells and antibodies move around your body faster, detecting illness earlier, meanwhile your increased body temperature helps prevent bacteria from growing. All good news for staving off bugs. However, overdo if and you could be doing yourself harm. Immune cells called neutrophils increase in numbers post workout, but their ability to neutralise microbes decreases. Not convinced? flaxseeds; not only will they help you absorb immune-boosting Vitamin D, they’re anti-inflammatory, too.
Best Remedies for Cold and Flu Photo Gallery
If you’re peri-menopausal, lower oestrogen levels in your body could be making your mucous membranes drier than usual, leaving you more susceptible to respiratory tract infections, say the experts at Vogels.
WHAT TO DO:
YOUR WINTER TOOLKIT
Ready to give take control of your health? Here’s our pick of the best science-backed remedies
Oestrogen also helps prevent the B cells of your immune system being destroyed. These cells are responsible tor identifying pathogens in your body. Menopause also reduces the number of T cells in your body, so you’re more likely to have higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone also connected to weakened immunity.
Make sure you drink plenty of water – the recently launched Spring bottle by Bellabeat ($79; bellabeat.com) will personalise your fluid needs, track your water intake and send you gentle reminders to drink more throughout the day – and support healthy membranes with Sea Buckthorn Oil, £19.99 for 60 capsules; bodykind.com.
Food intolerances, bloating, sugar cravings and constant fatigue could be a sign of an unhealthy gut. Balancing your digestive flora can help you stay well throughout winter as immune cells in your gut wall produce antibodies. ‘The gut and the immune system are very closely linked,’ says Professor Glenn Gibson, professor of food microbiology at the University of Reading. In fact, 70 to 80 per cent of your immune tissue is situated in your digestive tract. ‘Certain strains of gut flora boost the action of the immune cells, helping prevent pathogens from being absorbed,’ says Gibson. ‘Without the appropriate composition of gut flora, our bodies become more susceptible to colds and viruses.’
WHAT TO DO: Make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg, avoid refined sugar and use a prebiotic to ensure a good balance of gut flora.
Fortunately, there’s a huge range of natural winter remedies available, and research is showing them to be a viable choice when it comes to looking after your health in the colder months. Maybe it’s time to swap conventional over-the-counter preparations for a more natural solution to winter ills…
THE COLD BUSTER
‘Echinacea is one of few remedies known to increase host resistance whte also having a direct action against viruses and bacteria,’ says Dr Peter Fisher, director of research at the Royal London Hospital for integrated Medicine. It interferes with receptors on the surface of influenza viruses to stop them adhering to cells in the body, alters respiratory tract walls to prevent bacteria attaching to them and reduces the intiammatory symptoms of infection. What’s more, a trial by the Common Cold Centre, Cardiff, shows A.Vogel Echinaforce reduces the development of recurrent colds by 59 per cent; the number of days cold symptoms are experienced; and the need for painkillers by 52 per cent.
PhytoReiiefCC, with ginger, pomegranate and curcumin, £6.99 fo 12; alchemlife.com/uk. Studies show these antibiotic, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory lozenges reduce the incidence of colds by 70 per cent and the duration of colds by 37 per cent.
Although prebiotics can be found in nions, garlic and leeks, to experience any meaningful health benefits, you’d have to .at unrealistically large amounts,’ says Professor Glenn Gibson. ‘For many, taking a prebiotic supplement like Bimuno, which an restore gut balance in just seven days, is a more convenient way of boosting mmunity and improving digestive health.’ Research in the American Journal of Clinical Studies shows Bimuno is effective at rebalancing the gut microbiota and influencing the immune system. In the small intestine, it prevents disease-carrying bacteria from attaching to the digestive tract, thereby preventing them from multiplying. It also increases immune system activity, by boosting the activity of natural killer cells.
ALSO TRY: Another supplement that alters gut pH levels, water-based supplement Symprove, £79 for 4 bottles; symprove.com, contains four strains of healthy bacteria to help rebalance your gut flora.
THE COUGH CONTROLLER
3. Potter’s Liquorice Syrup, £4.99 for 135ml; pottersherbals.co.uk
Liquorice is a bit of a star when it comes to winter survival – it’s anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antioxidative, anti-asthma and great for your immune system. One of its key components is glycyrrhizin, an anti-inflammatory compound that not only gives liquorice its sweet taste but its antimicrobial properties, too. The compound, formed of calcium, sodium and potassium salts, is effective against the microbes streptococcus and staphylococcus, responsible for sore throats as well as the ’flu virus.
‘Liquorice eases congestion and coughing by helping to loosen and thin mucus in airways,’ says Dr Chris Eldridge. ‘This makes a cough more “productive”.’ Liquorice also helps to relax bronchial spasms and soothes soreness in the throat and fights viruses that cause respiratory illnesses and an overproduction of mucus, such as irritating coughs, asthma and chest infections. It’s quick-acting, too -research shows one of its compounds, liquiritin apioside, works within 15 minutes, while another, liquiritigenin, becomes more active and eases coughing an hour after administration.
With the World Health Organisation regarding honey as a valuable treatment for relieving coughs, antibacterial manuka, fortified here with double-strength vitamin C and zinc, is a toolkit essential.
THE ENERGY GIVER
Potter’s Energise Tonic, £17.99 for 250ml; pottersherbals.co.uk One-in-five people experience unusual levels of fatigue at any one time, and in winter this figure is often higher. Used as a natural remedy in China for at least 2,000 years, research shows that ginseng (specifically, panax ginseng C.A. Meyer G115) supports energy metabolism, physical performance and the immune system. Its benefits are thought to come from pharmacologically active compounds called ginsenosides, and it helps fight fatigue in part by increasing your lungs’ ability to use oxygen more efficiently and to transport it to the issues. What’s more, research shows its antiviral, antimicrobial and immune support properties help fight infection – perfect for the winter months.
ALSO TRY: James White Açai Caffeine Zinger, for energy; or antimicrobial fresh Golden Turmeric Zinger, to ward off colds, £19 for 15 x 7ml; jameswhite.co.uk.
THE SOS REMEDY
Kaloba Pelargonium Cough & Cold Relief Syrup, £7.99 for 100ml; hollandandbarrett.com
Pelargonium sidoides, also known as African geranium or umckaloabo, is a medicinal plant native to South Africa traditionally used for upper-respiratory tract infections. ‘Pelargonium sidoides has an antibacterial and antiviral action, helps to clear mucus and is effective in treating acute rhinosinusitis and the common cold,’ says Dr Sarah Brewer. ‘In one study, after 10 days, 78.8 per cent of those receiving treatment were clinically cured, versus only 31.4 per cent taking placebo. Dr Dick Middleton, director of the British Herbal Medicine Association, advises: ‘Take this herbal remedy at the first signs of a cold to keep symptoms at bay, and continue for at least two days after symptoms completely disappear.’
Healthspan Zinc Defence lozenges, £8.99 for 45; healthspan.co.uk. Research by Helsinki University, Finland, found zinc acetate shortened colds on average by 40 per cent.
THE BUG BLITZER
Puressentiel Purifying Air Spray, £9.99 for 200ml; boots.com When you share public spaces, the chances of picking up a bug are high, but you can mitigate the risk. In a randomised, blind control study this year, researchers found Puressentiel Purifying Air Spray cut airborne bacteria in a London office by an average of 69 per cent over five hours, reducing the viable cells of four common bacteria, including staphylococcus and E-coli by a factor of 100,000. On contact, the spray, composed of 41 essential oils with antibacterial, antifungal and viricidal properties, kills 99.99 per cent of bacteria in five minutes. ‘Given the issues around antibiotic resistance, products such as the Puressentiel Purifying Air Spray could have an important role in infection control,’ says Dr Gill Jenkins.
Puressentiel Purifying Antibacterial Lotion Spray, £2.49 for 25ml; amazon.co.uk. With essential oils of lemon, lavandin and tea tree, this handy spray is proven to be effective against bacteria and viruses. Use on hands and surfaces.
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