The Common Cold Prevention Natural Medicines

Natural medicines are becoming more and more popular in the fight to boost our immune systems and prevent colds. It seems like every cold and flu season, a study comes out touting the benefits of a new herbal supplement: echinacea, goldenseal and green tea have all been in the news in recent years.

Some other natural immune-boosting medicines include:

  • acai
  • astragalus
  • olive leaf extract
  • spirulina
  • wheatgrass.

Astragalus

Astragalus is an herb that the Chinese have used for over 2,000 years. Its antioxidant properties are making it popular with those looking to protect their immune systems. It is said to aid white blood cells in fighting infection. Usually people take astragalus in a capsule.

Olive Leaf Extract

Olive leaf extract is made from one of the active chemicals in olive tree leaves, called oleuropein. Some recent studies have found that oleuropein has anti-infective properties. The extract is usually taken orally by patients in a concentrated liquid capsule.

There is research on how olive leaf extract may affect fetuses or babies, so pregnant or breast-feeding women should avoid the supplement.

Olive leaf extract may also lower blood sugar levels, so those with diabetes should also be cautious with this substance.

Spirulina

Spirulina and chlorella are forms of algae. These substances are full of vitamins and essential fatty acids. Proteins from algae can be used by the body immediately, which means they may help boost immunity because the body spends less energy trying to break them down.

Spirulina may also promote the production of blood cells, which is helpful in keeping the immune system strong.

Many forms of spirulina are on the market. You can buy powders and add them to yogurt, or it is also sold in capsule form and in pre-packaged envelopes you can make into a shake by adding milk.

Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass and barleygrass are highly concentrated with chlorophyll, which is reported to have antioxidant properties. Some studies have found that chlorophyll works a bit like spirulina in that it helps repair and build red blood cells.

Fresh wheatgrass juice is available at most juice bars and in some supermarkets. You can also buy powdered wheatgrass in canisters.

Acai

Acai is relatively recent discovery. It is a fruit from Brazil. People drink acai juice and take acai capsules because it has more antioxidants than blueberries and also contains helpful fatty acids.

Studies have shown that the benefits of acai in maintaining a healthy immune system lie in its ability to improve blood circulation. If the body can move blood throughout the body effectively, it can also move toxins out quickly.

The key to getting the most out of natural medicines for a cold is taking them consistently. If you can remember to take capsules every day, you are more likely to see some benefits in your immune system.

The nice part about most of these substances is that they are also available in powdered form. Some people prefer making a smoothie every morning with a fruit flavor they enjoy and packing it with nutrients from spirulina, wheatgrass and acai.

One final note about natural cold remedies: They are generally taken as a preventive measure. Studies have found that they do little to cure a cold once it has developed, but they can have a significant effect on preventing cold or flu.

Resources

Drug Digest (2007) Olive Leaf. Retrieved November 19, 2007, from the DrugDigest.org Web site: http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/DVH/HerbsWho/0,3923,552476|Olive Leaf,00.html.

Harper-Deacon, J. (2006, October 15). What’s the Alternative. Sunday Times (London), p. 47.

Irish, P. (2006, January 12). Good health is natural if the body stays in tune. The Toronto Star, p. J7.

Stephens, A. (2006, July 11). All you need to eat. The Independent (London), p. 13.