Now that winter is fully upon us, the chance that some of us have colds is a lot higher as well.
When it gets cold out, our body is under more stress and becomes more susceptible to germs and whatever other pathogens might be in the air. Between October to about May every year in the United States, flu season rears its head. While there are vaccines, everyone comes down with some form of the flu or a cold every once in a while.
Fortunately, there’s a natural remedy not everyone knows about that can be very effective during these times.
Although many of us might reach for the Mucinex or Theraflu, elderberry syrup might be just as effective.
For those who don’t know, elderberries are a fruit naturally found all over North America, specifically east of the Rocky Mountains. They can also be found throughout Mexico and South America as well. Though they may not look particularly special from the outside, these berries can be made into a syrup that has all kinds of health benefits.
But don’t take it from us—there have been medical studies showing just how effective it can be.
In one study from as recently as 2004, elderberry syrup was shown to be very effective in fighting influenza A and B.
The study was published in the Journal of International Medical Research and showed that those who had taken elderberry extract within 48 hours of the onset of their symptoms had great relief from them. When compared to a control group who didn’t get any elderberry syrup, those who did got relief from their symptoms on average four days earlier.
Still, other studies showed similarly promising results.
Another study from 2009 showed that the extract could even be useful for those with more serious strains of influenza.
The research was published in the Online Journal of Pharmacology and PharmacoKinetics, where participants with H1N1 (swine flu) and avian flu were given daily doses of elderberry extract. While those getting a placebo treatment saw no significant improvement, those who got elderberry had relief from fever, headaches, muscle aches and congestion within a mere 24 hours!
By the end of 48 hours of these doses, almost 90% of the patients were nearly symptom-free.
Finally, another study in 2016 showed even more promising results.
The research was published in Nutrients and this time focused on patients who had been traveling through the air. Because travel can expose us to many different germs from all over the world, the experiment had participants take elderberry 10 days before they started traveling up until four to five days after arriving at their destination. The results showed that anyone who had gotten a cold typically had it last two days less than those who didn’t take the elderberry extract.
As it turns out, sometimes the natural remedies are the best medicine after all!
Beyond elderberry extract, there are still plenty of other precautions to make sure you keep as healthy as possible this flu season.
According to the Mayo Clinic, staying hydrated is another important part of keeping your immune system strong. If you do find yourself getting sick, be sure to get as much rest as possible. If you’re having nasal congestion, try using over-the-counter nasal spray or drops or try some over the counter medicine. Similarly, you can use medicines like ibuprofen or aspirin to help with the pain as well, though children are advised not to.
Similarly, young children shouldn’t take over-the-counter cold and cough medicines without consulting with a doctor first!
While nobody likes to get a cold, there are still things you can do to help your body out.
While the evidence behind Vitamin C, zinc and echinacea is mixed, all of the above methods can help you get back into fighting shape in the shortest time possible. If you’re not sick, be sure to follow basic hygiene methods as well such as washing your hands, covering your mouth whenever possible and avoiding contact with others who are sick. If you follow these steps, you should make it out of this season unscathed.
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