Horseman’s Health: Natural Ways to Deal With Winter Colds and Flu

When cold and flu season hits it pays to have some remedies in your arsenal to help you relieve symptoms and keep you going when you absolutely can’t take a day off to stay home and rest. After all at the very least even when we are sick, the horses still have to be fed and watered. Everyone seems to have their own list of remedies they use and while not any one thing will work for everyone, having a list of suggestions to try out will help you find what works best for you. Here is a collection of natural remedies we found to add to your own natural solutions list.

Putting Up With Some Symptoms
While it may be inconvenient and even uncomfortable dealing with cold and flu symptoms, sometimes they actually are a good thing. Many of the symptoms are letting you know that your own natural immune system is working to fight off an infection or virus. Having a fever is one way your immune system responds to a virus to kill it off and the hotter temperature in your body allows proteins that kill germs to circulate more effectively through your blood. Coughing can be irritating, but it clears our germ filled mucus.

Stuffy Nose
When you have a cold, you do want to blow your nose and get that mucus out to rid your body of the germs it contains, but hard blowing can cause some of it to go into your ear passages creating ear infections or pain. Experts suggest putting one finger over one of your nostrils and gently blowing through the other when blowing your nose. If you have nasal or sinus congestion, hot drinks may be in order. These not only can help clear out the congestion, but also keep you hydrated and give comfort to inflammation in your nose and throat. Herbal teas are a good choice for a hot drink and many people swear by the hot toddy recipe adding honey and a small shot of whiskey or bourbon to the tea. If you don’t imbibe in alcohol, which you certainly don’t want to put a lot on already inflamed membranes, some people substitute lemon, ginger, and/or hot red pepper sauce or flakes. You can also use a saline solution to rinse out the nasal passages with a Neti-Pot type device or bulb syringe. Others find that placing a hot pack or cold pack around the sinus area on your nose helps loosen congestion.

There are many natural supplements that have been found effective in relieving cold and flu symptoms and in reducing the amount of sick time due to colds and flu.

Astragalus – According to Andrew Weil, MD, advisor for Prevention, this Chinese root has been found to boost the white blood cells that fight off infection. This is a supplement to start taking early though as it has been found most effective after taking for 6 to 8 weeks.

Ginseng – Supplements containing ginseng can be helpful if taken when you first feel like you may be getting a cold. One study at the Center for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Infectious Diseases at the University of Connecticut using a particular ginseng supplement with one group and a placebo with another group found those taking the placebo were sick twice as long as the group taking the ginseng supplement.

Zinc – According to the director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, David L. Katz, MD, MPH, taking 30 mg of zinc when you first feel cold symptoms can shorten the duration of the cold by about half a day. It is not advised to take more than that however as over 50 mg a day can interfere with your body absorbing other minerals it needs and decrease immune system function.

Mushrooms – A study in 2013 showed an increase in the production of immune cells in participants that ate shiitake mushrooms. Reishi, cordyceps, maitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei are other mushrooms that have been shown to have anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties and support the immune system. You’ll find all these plus astragalus, beta glucan and organic wild bluegreen algae in this supplement.

Foods to Add to Your Diet
When you find yourself down with a cold or the flu, there are certain foods that can help

Omega 3 – Britain’s Institute of Human Nutrition and School of Medicine found that this essential fatty acid gives a boost to your phagocytes which are the cells that help battle the flu as they eat bacteria. It also has been reported to give protection to your lungs from contracting a cold or respiratory infection. You can increase your omega 3 by eating fatty fish, taking bluegreen algae, or taking fish oil supplements that have EPA and DHA.

Stomach Symptoms – For a nauseous stomach or diarrhea, bananas, rice, and blueberries can be helpful. Blueberries also act as a natural aspirin if you are experiencing fever or body aches. Another great natural aid for diarrhea is to make a tea out of Ume Plum Tar.

Congestion – Chili peppers, mustard and horseradish can all help loosen mucus.

Infection – Onions, black tea, and green tea all contain phytochemicals that can help the body fight off infections. The catechin in black and green tea has been found to provide antibiotic properties and help with diarrhea.

The best way of course to deal with colds and flus is to avoid catching them in the first place. That means it is time now to get your immune system in tip-top shape to help you fight them off. If you do catch a cold or flu, then hopefully some of these tips will help you keep going or reduce your time spent being sick. If you have some favorite natural solutions, leave a comment and share what you’ve found to work for you.

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, let me know by leaving a comment below. You can also find me on Facebook where I always appreciate a LIKE. To order any of the products mentioned in this post or other  products for you or your horses, please visit my online store.



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About Madalyn Ward, DVM

This blog provides information based on my unique take on horse health and well being. The articles are based on experience of treating and working with horses for over 40 years. In most cases the articles are focused on an holistic approach to health and management. When conventional medicine offers good research or therapy, I share this information as well. Madalyn Ward, DVM

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