By Dietitian Fatin
Cold, flu and influenza are the health problems caused by different type of viruses or bacteria that affect the upper respiratory tract in human. The effect can target our nose, sinuses, pharynx, larynx and the worst part is our lungs. Symptoms may start at day 2 and last until 3 weeks. Usually, physicians will prescribe anti-histamines or decongestant medication, nasal irrigation, intranasal ipratropium, pain killer and antibiotics in some cases.
- Allergic rhinitis
- Sore throat
- Ear pain/ otitis media
“Prevention is better than cure” saying is the most important action must be done by people. Hence, there are some “remedies” that can help to prevent or reduce the cold and flu symptoms.
Probiotics may be helpful in preventing upper respiratory tract infections. The use of probiotics reduced antibiotic use in some study. Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus rhamnosus are among the strains used in the study. The saying “a healthy gut is the key to a healthy body” define how importance of having good bacteria in the gut to pose many health benefits.
Elderberry has been known for their high antioxidants property which contain the flavonols, quercetin-3-glucoside and quercetin-3-rutinoside, and a number of anthocyanins that poses many health benefits especially immune-modulating effect. It grows widely in Europe, Northern Africa, central and western Asia. Most of philosophers define elderberry as one of nature’s greatest healing. They have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-microbial activity in human. This elderberry also suitable for air traveller who plan to go to cold country. It can reduce the cold duration and severity in cold season.
Although look just like normal mineral, but zinc can help in reducing the cold per year especially for children. Consumption of 10-15mg daily of zinc in some studies can reduce the antibiotics used, number of colds and school absent in children.
- Honey and propolis
Due to its flavonoid, phenolic acids, ascorbic acids, glucose oxidase and catalase, honey responsible for the antioxidant activity. The most beneficial one in market is manuka honey and tualang honey. Honey is always an alternative remedy if medication does not work for cough. Propolis is produced from plant resins, enriched with salivary enzymatic secretions. Propolis contains polyphenols, volatile oils, aromatic acids and waxes. Both of them helps in reducing infection and pathogenic bacteria in oral space, and faster healing especially when added with vitamin c or echinacea. They act as a scavenger of reactive oxygen species naturally. In addition, honey and propolis have a strong antibacterial capacity without bacterial resistance formation and can eradicate bacteria even in the form of biofilms.
Allan, G. M., & Arroll, B. (2014). Prevention and treatment of the common cold: making sense of the evidence. CMAJ, 186(3), 190-199.
Henatsch, D. (2019). Honey: A Novel Treatment in Chronic Ear Infections. [Doctoral Thesis, Maastricht University]. Ipskamp Printing BV. https://doi.org/10.26481/dis.20190906d
Krawitz, C., Mraheil, M. A., Stein, M., Imirzalioglu, C., Domann, E., Pleschka, S., & Hain, T. (2011). Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 11(1), 1-6.
Tiralongo, E., Wee, S. S., & Lea, R. A. (2016). Elderberry supplementation reduces cold duration and symptoms in air-travellers: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Nutrients, 8(4), 182.