Honey has long been associated with treating coughs and sore throats, but Manuka honey (from the Manuka plant in New Zealand) has even greater antibacterial and healing properties. “Take a spoonful straight from the pot or mix with warm water and sip,” says Julie. “Don’t overheat as this will destroy the hard-working enzymes.” When shopping for Manuka, look for a UMF or MGO grading mark: the higher the number, the more potent the honey.
Soups & Stews
Chicken soup for a cold? It’s an old wives’ tale worth listening to. “Warming and easily digestible foods are ideal if you have a cold,” says Julie. “You don’t want to challenge your body to work any harder than is absolutely necessary and they’re a great way to pack in lots of much-needed nutrients.”
Because 70% of the immune system is in the gut, nourishing, gut-friendly foods are particularly important when you’re trying to beat a cold or cough. Julie recommends bone broth: “Highly nutritious and packed with amino acids – especially glutamine – it’s been shown to help heal the gut. It’s also warming and comforting to sip on.”
Julie suggests adding healing spices like turmeric to your diet as cold season approaches. “Turmeric is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties that can ease the symptoms of a cold.” Turmeric works well in soups, stews or curries; or make a turmeric ‘latte’ by mixing it with cinnamon, ginger and a little honey, then heating with a plant-based milk of your choice.
Fresh ginger root is another go-to for Julie, who says the best way to reap its benefits is via hot ginger tea. “Grate root ginger into warm water with lemon; let it brew for a good five minutes, then strain and sip.” Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties will help relieve a sore throat and calm a cough.
Gargling salt water might not be much fun, but it can offer impressive results. The salt pulls the mucus from the inflamed tissue in your throat (lovely) and helps soothe that scratchy discomfort. Julie suggests mixing half a teaspoon of sea salt or Himalayan salt in a glass of warm water and gargling for 30 seconds a few times throughout the day. A salt pipe – essentially a dry salt inhaler – offers a similar cleanse for the respiratory system.
“Immune-boosting echinacea is an excellent option if you feel a cold coming on,’ says Julie. Research suggests this flowering plant can increase the number of white blood cells, which ward off infection. Take it as a supplement, tincture or tea.
Essential oils can be helpful in cold and flu season. “Tea tree, rosemary and peppermint are great to clear a bunged-up head,” says Julie. “Citrus oils like grapefruit or lemon can boost the immune system and uplift your mood.” Inhale your chosen oil directly, put it in a diffuser or use in the shower or bath.
And one to avoid… Dairy
Sadly, this can be a time to stay clear of the cheese board. “Dairy products are mucus-forming and likely to exacerbate any sinus-related issues,” warns Julie.
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Keen to try one of these natural remedies? Seek advice from a medical practitioner or pharmacist to ensure their safety – especially if you’re pregnant or have existing conditions.
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