If you haven’t yet succumb to one of the many colds and viruses doing the rounds this winter, then (sorry to say it) it’s probably only a matter of time. In addition to evidence of lingering “long colds,” a term coined after new research by Queen Mary University of London observed a pattern of acute respiratory infections with cold-like symptoms that last around four weeks, the first UK case of swine flu in a human since 2005 was detected in North Yorkshire this week.
Sales of over the counter medicines understandably spike at this time of year, as many of us seek relief from runny noses, blocked sinuses, and persistent coughs. This year, however, it seems more of us than ever are turning to natural alternatives in a bid to feel better: Google has witnessed record high searches for “honey garlic” and “apple cider vinegar” over the past week.
It might read as a shopping list of store cupboard essentials, but in short: there are actually two remedies that may positively impact the severity and duration of a cold (although it should be noted that more severe viruses like flu always need proper medical attention and treatment). “Natural remedies can be soothing, and often patients will turn to them for comfort when struggling with a common cold or flu virus,” says Dr Raj Arora, a GP and founder of The Face Bible. “However, if there are more serious respiratory symptoms, or if one is struggling with flu rather than a common cold, then it is important to seek medical advice.”
Apple cider vinegar, the result of fermenting crushed apples with sugar and yeast, is often dismissed as a wellness fad, but many who regularly incorporate it into their daily routine have noticed a big difference. “Drinking a warm concoction of apple cider vinegar may help with soothing symptoms of the common cold, such as helping to loosen mucus and helping to soothe a sore throat,” says Arora. It seems that many experts are also coming around to its ability to increase microbial diversity in the gut and improve cellular immune response, with more research helping to prove its antimicrobial properties.
Not all ACV is equal, though: in order to get the true benefits seek out raw and unrefined versions, like Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, that contain “the mother,” which refers to the living bacteria and yeast. “My favorite home remedy for immunity is fire cider,” says Rhian Stephenson, founder of Artah. “I use raw apple cider vinegar to ferment and draw out the beneficial compounds of a variety of medicinal herbs and roots, including ginger, garlic, horseradish, turmeric, and more. It’s so powerful, and I use it daily in the winter alongside a good daily supplement, like Essential D3/K2.”