During the colder months, getting sick sometimes seems unavoidable. But from olive leaf extract to good, old vitamin C, there’s a plethora of treatments that you can take to combat the dreaded cold and flu. We take you through a few.
Remember, the best way to avoid catching a cold is to wash your hands regularly. It’s also important to note that some herbal medicines and supplements aren’t recommended if you’re pregnant, lactating, taking other medication or have underlying health conditions, so always consult a health professional first.
A tried and tested favourite, garlic is prized for its medicinal properties due to the compound allicin, which can pack a powerful punch in fighting off bacteria. Research is limited, but there’s evidence to suggest that garlic may indeed help fend off colds. For the brave, it’s suggested that you’ll get the most out of it by chewing a clove whole. If that doesn’t sound appealing, you can also take garlic in tablets and capsules. Or the next time you prepare a meal, crush up some garlic and let it stand for 10-15 minutes to let all the enzymes activate before cooking.
Elderberries get their dark purple colour from anthocyanin, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects. They must be cooked before they’re eaten and can be used in wines, syrups or even pies. While fresh berries can be hard to find, dried elderberries and syrups can be bought at health food stores, and they can be taken both as a treatment and a preventative.
Olive leaf extract
A powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, olive leaf extract has become a popular remedy for treating colds and flu. The key ingredient is oleuropein, a polyphenol that’s also found in lower doses in olive oil. Research on the benefits of olive leaf extract is inconclusive, although there’s evidence to suggest it may assist in fighting off cold viruses. It can be taken in tea, powder or capsule form, or as a liquid concentrate added to water.
An important antioxidant, vitamin C is essential for a number of functions, including maintaining our immune systems. There’s been some controversy in recent years over whether taking extra supplements can really combat colds and flu; however, there are studies that suggest taking vitamin C may be beneficial in raising immunity levels for those who are especially active, such as marathon runners. Because it’s water soluble, vitamin C can’t be stored in the body, so it’s recommended that all adults consume at least 45mg every day. It’s found in fruit and veggies – citrus, blackcurrants, guava, kiwifruit, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all especially good sources.
Also known as “coneflowers”, the echinacea plant comes in 10 species and preparations can be made using the roots, stems, flowers or the whole plant. While studies vary, it’s been suggested that the alkamides, polysaccharides, glycoproteins and caffeic acid derivatives found in different types of echinacea extracts may boost immunity. You can buy echinacea in capsules, as a tea or in a liquid that can be added to drinks, but it’s generally recommended that you avoid taking it for prolonged periods or on an empty stomach.