Elderberries are an excellent general immune system booster and can be used for its antioxidant activity to relieve coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destro the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. Elderberries contain organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid, vitaman A and B and a large amount of vitamin C.
The berries contain chemical compounds called anthocyanidins, which are are known to have immunostimulant effects. Elderberry extract has been shown to be a safe, efficient and cost-effective treatment for both cold and flu symptoms.
Several studies have demonstrated that elder extract is highly effective in mitigating flu-like symptoms. Specifically, the flavonoids in the elderberry extract bind to the H1N1 human influenza virus as well as the H5N1 avian influenza virus. A 2009 study randomized patients into two groups: One group was given four doses of 175-milligram proprietary elderberry extract daily, and the other group received a placebo daily for two days. The extract-treated group showed significant improvement in most flu symptoms while the placebo group showed no improvement or an increase in severity of symptoms. Researchers conclude that the extract is effective in controlling influenza symptoms.
Honey is a proven cough suppressant and contains a treasure chest of hidden nutritional and medicinal value for centuries. The sweet golden liquid from the beehive is a popular kitchen staple loaded with antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that has been used since the early days of Egyptian tombs.
Bees also produce a compound called propolis from the sap on needle-leaved trees or evergreens. When they combine the sap with their own discharges and beeswax, they create a sticky, greenish-brown product used as a coating to build their hives. This is propolis.
Propolis is thought to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. But scientific research on propolis is limited. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but the bee product appears to provide protection from some bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Researchers have identified more than 300 compounds in propolis. The majority of these compounds are forms of polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that fight disease and damage in the body.
One study (Source) found when topical propolis was applied three times a day, it helped to heal cold sores faster than no treatment. The researchers found the propolis cream not only reduced the amount of herpes virus present in a person’s body, but also protected the body against future cold sore breakouts.
Propolis has been suggested to have a role in treating certain cancers as well. According to one study (Source), some of the anti-cancerous effects of the substance include:
- keeping cancerous cells from multiplying
- reducing the likelihood cells will become cancerous
- blocking pathways that keep cancer cells from signaling to each other
Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion. Only recently, however, have researchers pinpointed some of the components in thyme that bring about its healing effects. The volatile oil components of thyme are now known to include carvacolo, borneol, geraniol, but most importantly, thymol.
Lemon decreases the strength of the cold and flu virus in the body and reduces phlegm, which makes it easier to unclog a stuffed-up respiratory system. Lemons are also high in Vitamin C, which is the most important vitamins to help the immune system and it also acts as another powerful anti-oxidant. Lemons also have been shown to have very strong antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Cinnamon has been prized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years and finally modern science has now confirmed what people have known for ages.
- Ceylon cinnamon: Also known as “true” cinnamon.
- Cassia cinnamon: The more common variety today and what people generally refer to as “cinnamon.” This variety contains a toxin that is harmful if you eat too much of it.
Here are a few proven benefits of cinnamon:
- Can inhibit the growth of certain bacteria, including Listeria and Salmonella (Source 1, Source 2).
- Studies show that this spice and its antioxidants have potent anti-inflammatory properties (Source1, Source 2).
- Cinnamon extracted from Cassia varieties is thought to help fight against HIV-1, the most common strain of the HIV virus in humans (Source 1 , Source 2).
- Two compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of a protein called tau in the brain, which is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3).
- Can dramatically reduce insulin resistance (Source 1, Source 2).
A fever can make it hard to sleep and make you feel less rested. The good news is many studies have shown that lavender can be used to improve sleep.
A 2014 research study tested lavender oil on people who were being treated in a hospital. It found that lavender helped to slightly lower blood pressure during sleep, which aids in more restful sleep.
Another review showed that lavender oil may help calm the nervous system. This might help you sleep better and improve some symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to medical research (Source), lavender oil may help relieve symptoms as much as some prescription medications.
Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few.
Ginger appears to be highly effective against nausea (Source).
For example, it has a long history of use as a sea sickness remedy, and there is some evidence that it may be as effective as prescription medication (Source).
Ginger may also relieve nausea and vomiting after surgery, and in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy (Source 1, Source 2).
Gingerol, the bioactive substance in fresh ginger, can help lower the risk of infections.
In fact, ginger extract can inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria (Source 1, Source 2).
It is very effective against the oral bacteria linked to inflammatory diseases in the gums, such as gingivitis and periodontitis (Source).
Fresh ginger may also be effective against the RSV virus, a common cause of respiratory infections (Source).
Ginger has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain.
In one study, consuming 2 grams of ginger per day, for 11 days, significantly reduced muscle pain in people performing elbow exercises (Source).
Ginger extract has been studied as an alternative treatment for several forms of cancer.
The anti-cancer properties are attributed to 6-gingerol, a substance that is found in large amounts in raw ginger (Source 1, Source 2).
Some studies in animals suggest that the antioxidants and bioactive compounds in ginger can inhibit inflammatory responses that occur in the brain (Source).
There is also some evidence that ginger can enhance brain function directly. In a study of 60 middle-aged women, ginger extract was shown to improve reaction time and working memory (Source).