We are in the thick of cold and flu season, when any sniffle might signal the beginning of an illness that could spread through your family like wildfire. While there are plenty of over-the-counter medications to give your kids once they begin to feel sick, there are an equal number of home remedies that can boost immunity and help your kids fight off germs so that they never get sick in the first place. Below are some easy and effective home remedies that can help keep your family stay healthy this cold and flu season.
Elderberry Syrup and TeaIn many parts of the world, elderberry syrup and elderberry tea are considered helpful in fighting the flu. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a proprietary formulation of elderberry extract called Sambucol has shown an ability to fight flu symptoms in some small studies. Elderberry syrup can be made at home with dried elderberries, ginger, raw honey and a few spices. You can have your kids consume the syrup directly (as they would a cough syrup) or you can drizzle it on pancakes or waffles for an immune-boosting treat.
Stay HydratedIt may seem obvious, but it's important to stay hydrated to help your body fight off the flu. Dehydration can weaken your body, making you more susceptible to picking up a virus. If you do get sick, drinking lots of water will keep your nose, mouth and throat moist, allowing your body to get rid of built-up mucous and phlegm, according to Healthline.
Wash Hands With Soap and Warm Water
If you and your family have been out in public, pushing a grocery cart or playing at an indoor playground, for example, you're likely to have been exposed to germs that cause the cold and flu. While many parents reach for hand sanitizer to cleanse their family's hands, there's really no replacement for good old-fashioned handwashing with soap and warm water.
Hand washing cleans your hands better than hand sanitizer because the water removes the germs from the skin and flushes them down the sink. Some viruses, like the norovirus, are eliminated completely by handwashing. Hand sanitizer is a great option if you can't make it to a sink, but whenever possible, make sure everyone in your family lathers and rinses their hands on a regular basis.
EchinaceaEchinacea is a flower that has traditionally been used to fight inflammation and boost the immune system. The leaves and roots of the flower can be used in a supplement or a tea to reduce cold and flu symptoms, such as sinus pressure and stuffiness. According to Healthline, some studies have shown that the herb was more effective than a placebo at preventing and treating respiratory infections. Studies have also shown that the odds of developing the common cold decreased by 58% in people that took echinacea.
Eat Chicken SoupWhen you were a kid, your mom probably made you chicken soup if you came down with the cold or the flu (and maybe you do the same for your kids these days). There's a good reason we serve this meal to those feeling under the weather. Chicken soup is thought to break up sinus congestion, and carnosine, a compound in chicken soup, appears to play a role in preventing the cold and flu.
Stay Well Rested
Sleep plays a critical role in our mental and physical well-being, and it's even more important during cold and flu season. Not only will sleep keep your body strong so you can fight off any viruses that may find their way to you, but if you do end up with the flu, science shows that sleep will help you recover faster. In fact, a researcher at Washington State University found that a protein found in the brain, called AcPb, speeds up recovery from the flu in lab mice by "promoting the healing power of sleep."
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