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coldsDon’t wait to fall prey to the cold and flu viruses that are a part and parcel of winter. Instead, keep the sniffles away, or at least minimise their effects with some good old remedies that are all natural and really effective.

Cod liver oil. This is a rich source of natural vitamin D, a key nutrient for maintaining a healthy immune system and warding off colds. Since coughs and colds usually coincide with winter, a time when most people don’t get enough sunshine for their bodies to make vitamin D, cod liver oil is an essential supplement. The most effective kind is cod liver oil fermented by traditional methods.

Chicken soup. Science now provides sufficient evidence that our grandmothers were right about chicken soup (yakhni) being one of the best remedies for colds. Full of nutrients and light on the tummy, chicken soup, made from fresh chicken bones and meat, is nourishing and helps the body fight viruses. It also contains cysteines (an amino acid) which help relieve the nasal passages by thinning mucus.

Garlic. One of the countless benefits of garlic is its ability to drive away colds and shorten their duration. It has antibacterial properties which help fight off bacteria and viruses, including antibiotic resistant strains. To enhance the benefits, add a few minced cloves of garlic to your soup or any other food, but if you are in a hurry to see results, rub some garlic on your feet; the oils are immediately absorbed into your bloodstream and work to fight off colds.

Tea with honey and spices. Hot herbal teas have dual benefits; they hydrate the body aiding decongestion while the honey, herbs and spices used to make the teas have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of their own. You can brew your own herbal teas with aromatic herbs and spices such as elderberry, ginger, liquorice, mint or thyme to name a few, or just add honey to hot black tea.

– Leila Mahfooz Barry

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on November 10, 2013.