‘Tis the season… for viruses. Blech. If you are pregnant over the winter, you will most likely have to battle a cold or even (*shudder*) the flu. With all the other adjustments taking place during pregnancy, illness is the last thing you want to be dealing with. So, when one comes on, we want to find safe methods of treating it that work as quickly as possible!! However, if you do some internet searches on home remedies that are safe to use during pregnancy, you will get all kinds of mixed messages – and some off-the-wall suggestions!! Let’s take a look at some top quality, evidence-based remedies that I teach in my classes and use with my own family all the time.
Elderberry is the #1 herb for winter. It has been shown in many studies to effectively “deactivate” cold and flu viruses. It breaks down the viruses so they cannot enter new cells and replicate. There are a number of forms that can be used. One of the most common is elderberry syrup.
Syrup can be purchased at a health food store or made at home. It helps to know that some of the formulas from the store contain vinegar and some do not. If you are particularly sensitive to that taste or if you are using it with children, you may want to look for a brand with no vinegar! If you want to make the syrup at home, be sure to use a recipe from a reputable source. The berries must be cooked properly or the syrup can make you sick…. which is the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish here!! There is a good recipe here on the Franklin Institute of Wellness blog.
An alternative to the syrup is to buy an elderberry tincture. This is also readily available at any health food store. Most are alcohol based extracts, but you are only using a dropper full, so it is very minimal amounts. However, if you wish to avoid all alcohol, you can find an alcohol free version like HerbPharm’s by searching for “elderberry glycerite”. It can be added to juice, water, tea, anything. The glycerite can even be taken directly by mouth without diluting. At our house, we add it to a cup of Emergen-C, because then we’re getting the huge dose of vitamin c with it to help boost immune function.
Garlic is an incredible antiviral herb. If you don’t love the flavor of garlic, you may want to go for garlic capsules. However, you can also get medicinal benefits by using the garlic in a culinary fashion. Simply double or triple the amount of garlic in your recipes with one change: after chopping the garlic, leave it sitting exposed to the air for 10-15 minutes before cooking. Allicin, the main medicinal component of garlic, is easily destroyed with heat. When allicin is left exposed to air, it turns into diallyl disulphide, the antibacterial, antiviral compound that can withstand the heat of cooking. Incidentally, the same process works with onions!
Turmeric is another all-time favorite. As a close cousin of garlic, it is also antiviral, but it’s main benefit is its anti-inflammatory properties. So, it’s great for sinus pain, headaches, or other aches & pains, because it helps relieve the inflamed tissues. You can buy turmeric in capsules, tinctures, fresh or powdered. I love including turmeric in my morning tea! Steeping the fresh or powdered turmeric in a hot drink with a lipid – like milk or a bit of coconut oil – will boost its effectiveness. Here’s my favorite recipe!
1 cup milk
1 chai tea bag (black, green, herbal – doesn’t matter!)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 spoonful honey
Heat milk on the stove to steaming – don’t let it boil! Add chai tea bag and turmeric. You can place the powder in a reusable, cloth tea bag or strain the whole cup of tea through a coffee filter or piece of cheesecloth when it is finished steeping. Steep for 5 minutes, watching very carefully to avoid boiling the milk. Stir in honey and enjoy!
Water must be an integral part of any cold or flu treatment! Often during illness, your body is losing fluids through a variety of means, and it is very important to increase your intake of water to prevent dehydration. It is also vital to increase water when you have an over production of mucus. This is a super simple solution to head and chest colds that is nearly always overlooked!! Increasing your intake of water will thin out the mucus in your sinuses or in your lungs. Gross, I know, but this will make it easier to cough it up or blow it out. Getting the mucus out is the easiest way to prevent it becoming infected!
Using these remedies, colds and flus can often run their course in half the normal time! As always, be sure to do your own research before implementing your home remedies, and contact your care provider if you are concerned about using these or any other natural options.
Christian Krawitz†, et al – http://bmccomplementalternmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-11-16
The Influence of Heating on the Anticancer Properties of Garlic1
Kun Song and John A. Milner2 – http://jn.nutrition.org/content/131/3/1054S.long
Allicin – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allicin
The Many Health Benefits of Garlic – http://health.learninginfo.org/health-benefits-garlic.htm