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8 Essential Flu Fighters
By Gina Roberts-Grey
If instead of ringing in the New Year you’re sneezing, wheezing, and coughing it in, ’tis the season to fortify your immune system. Along with getting sufficient sleep, washing your hands, and stocking up on fruits and vegetables, our experts recommend keeping the following herbs and oils on hand to prevent and treat colds this winter.
“Breathing in or rubbing on immune-boosting oils, either individually or as blends, strengthens your resistance to infective organisms and helps fight illness,” says certified aromatherapy practitioner Rhonda Bridges King of Venice, Florida. Blends incorporating jojoba, lemon, tea tree, ravensara, or juniper oils can give you the boost you need (for blend recipes, go to Web Exclusives at www.alternativemedicine.com).
Once a bug has bitten, the best oils to speed away the ensuing cold are peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, and thyme. To ease congestion, try ginger, myrrh, sandalwood, or frankincense, which stimulate the mucus membranes.
Make sure to buy therapeutic-grade oils, King says. You can inhale the oils directly, use a cold air diffuser to atomize five to 10 drops of essential oils in the air, or add up to 10 drops to your bath. “Essential oils can also be used on a hot or cold compress topically,” King says.
This Chinese medicinal herb, also known as Yin Chiao Chieh Du Wan, is highly regarded for its ability to strengthen the body at the onset of a cold or the flu. Take three to five tablets with lukewarm water two to three times daily to nip the illness in the bud. You have to take yin chiao immediately at the first sign of a cold, however, for it to work.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
This popular herb can cut your chances of catching a cold by up to 60 percent. That’s the verdict from a 2007 study analyzing 14 previous echinacea studies. When taken with vitamin C, it can reduce the number of colds even further—by 85 percent. Not only that, but for those already sick, echinacea shortens the duration of the cold by 1 1/2 days on average, according to a report in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
“Echinacea is credited with stimulating the production of white blood cells and improving the lymph glands to boost your resistance to colds, flu, and infection,” says Brad Jacobs, MD, MPH, a Washington, DC, internist and integrative medicine expert. He recommends 250 to 500 mg of echinacea three times a day at the first signs of a cold, during a cold, or when you think you’ve been exposed to a bug.
If you’re worn down or are exercising strenuously (think marathon runners), taking vitamin C as a preventive can cut your risk of getting a cold up to 50 percent, according to a recent study conducted at the Australian National University that examined 60 years’ worth of research on the vitamin. Shoot for 500 to 1,000 mg a day. “If your stomach is sensitive to acid, then ester-C works better than regular vitamin C,” says Mark ...
Author: Gina Roberts-Grey
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