By April Tisher
Is it a cold, the flu or just allergies? It can be hard to tell this time of year living in Gainesville. The kids are bringing germs home from school, we are spending a lot of time outdoors and cold and flu season is arriving. We may not want to automatically reach for pharmaceuticals to prevent or cure every little sniffle, so trying natural or homeopathic remedies for help are a popular solution. There are a plethora of choices for natural over-the-counter options as well as some old-fashioned ones your grandmother probably used. So, what is good for what ails you?
Sore throats and stuffy noses
One concoction you may be familiar with is good old warm salt water. Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in 8 ounces of warm, distilled water. Use a bulb syringe or nasal irrigation kit to squirt water into the nose to clear nasal cavities. This is not only supposed to remove bacteria from the nasal passages, but clear out any congestion. Personally, I gargle this to help alleviate a sore throat. You can also buy saline nasal spray or saline packets to use with a Neti pot.
For a sore throat or stuffy nose, one of my personal favorite home remedies is to rub menthol, eucalyptus and camphor salve underneath the nostrils to aid in clear breathing. If you are not a fan of salves, there are also sachets containing eucalyptus you can place under your nose.
Rebecca Raysin, media specialist by day, but lifelong health enthusiast, said her go-to when she feels a sore throat coming on is a tea she was given while on vacation in Costa Rica when she was experiencing laryngitis symptoms. A local resident made the concoction for her consisting of fresh ginger root, mint leaves, honey (she uses organic wildflower) and fresh lemon or lime juice. Raysin said she also likes to keep the fresh ginger on hand chopped into small pieces for an anytime snack as it is believed to help with digestion.
Danielle McGriff, mom of two, said her fit family is very particular about what they put into their bodies. She said they use several natural remedies on a regular basis to help keep themselves healthy and their immune systems strong. Some of their daily supplements include garlic (supports the immune system), coconut oil (supports detoxing) and saline rinses (to keep their sinuses clear). The family also uses organic apple cider vinegar because it contains mother strands of proteins, enzymes and colonies of “good” bacteria that provide healthful benefits, including reducing heartburn and blood sugar levels, as well as killing harmful bacteria. However, apple cider vinegar is not the only natural way to use foods and herbals in preventative measures.
A few other at home natural remedies include drinking cranberry juice for urinary health, eating yogurt for its probiotic effects of immune defense in the digestive tract and using zinc lozenges or vitamin C supplements to help ward off colds and shorten their duration or severity.
Are they safe?
Natural and homeopathic supplements are not studied and governed by the Food and Drug Administration the way over-the-counter and prescription medicines are regulated. For that reason, Tanya Banks, a physician’s assistant with Gainesville Pediatrics said that she does not recommend many homeopathic remedies to patients. However, she did say there are a few that she has found helpful, like a natural remedy for the prevention of swimmer’s ear that contains equal parts of rubbing alcohol and peroxide.
The old saying still rings true — an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. However, as with any health-related matters, ensure you know what exactly is in the product you are using and please be sure to check with your doctor before trying any new therapies and seek medical advice for worsening symptoms.
*Before you try any new remedies, please consult with your physician.