Feeling under the weather? Any sort sickness can feel super scary right now, but according to the CDC, if your symptoms don’t include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, you’re probably dealing with a pesky cold or seasonal allergies.
Try some of these natural cold cures to help you feel better ASAP.
Ginger tames inflammation.
You’ll feel better 55 percent faster if you add ginger to your cold recovery plan, British researchers say. Credit ginger’s active ingredients (gingerols), which tamp down immunity-weakening inflammation more quickly and effectively than painkillers can. The study-proven dose: 2 cups of ginger tea, 1 tsp. of fresh ginger, 1/2 tsp. of the dried spice or 2 slices of candied ginger daily.
Tomatoes energize powerful internal defenders.
The reddish pigment in tomatoes (lycopene) boosts the production of macrophages, or cells nicknamed the “Pac-Men” of the immune system because they gobble up any viruses in their path. No wonder University of Illinois scientists say eating 1 cup of tomatoes daily can cut cold symptoms by 40 percent, plus help you feel better three days sooner. Tip: You’ll absorb three times more lycopene from cooked tomatoes than from the raw fruit.
Carrots halt viral invaders.
The nutrient that gives carrots their cheery hue (beta-carotene) strengthens the mucous membranes lining your sinuses and lungs, so viruses have more trouble penetrating and spreading through these tissues. That’s the word from UCLA investigators, who say that women who nibble on 4 cups of carrots weekly are half as likely to develop colds, and they recover 45 percent faster if they do get the sniffles.
Garlic fuels killer cells.
Great news from Canadian investigators: Simply adding one large clove of garlic to your daily diet can cut your risk of colds by 63 percent and speed healing by four days. Garlic’s secret? It boasts 33 different sulfur compounds — powerful raw materials your immune system needs to activate virus-fighting natural killer cells.
Yogurt feeds protective gut bacteria.
Your digestive tract produces at least 70 percent of your virus-destroying immune cells, but it can only do this job if it’s lined with healthy bacteria, like the Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in plain yogurt. Enjoy 1 cup of yogurt daily, and University of Kansas researchers say you’ll cut your risk of colds in half and bounce back 74 percent faster if you fall ill.
Manuka honey banishes bacteria.
Fighting colds weakens your defenses against bacterial invaders, which can lead to throat infections, sinusitis and bronchitis. Thankfully, Australian scientists say savoring 1 Tbs. of manuka honey twice daily destroys up to 100 percent of bacteria on contact. Bonus: This sweet Rx soothes throat pain in 60 seconds. Thanks goes to its rare compound (methylglyoxal), which is antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.