Self care
In some studies, #elderberry, a common ingredient in cold and flu syrups, particularly those aimed at young children, shortened the duration of symptoms when taken in advance of or immediately at the start of an illness. But it’s a very limited amount of data, Dr. Romm said. Elderberries contain potent antioxidants and chemicals known as anthocyanins, which have been shown in lab experiments to help immune function.

Similarly, research on #zinc suggests that taking syrups and lozenges containing the trace element every three to four hours may reduce the length of a cold or flu by a day or two, potentially by preventing viruses from multiplying. Other analyses have concluded that there is not enough evidence to say it is any better than a placebo.

Most formulations of zinc have several side effects. Some people who used zinc nasal sprays have experienced a permanent loss of smell. Those who take it orally can get a lasting metallic taste in their mouth. “The really important thing to note is that you should take zinc with food because it can be really nauseating,” Dr. Romm said.

In many cultures, #ginger is one of the first things people reach for when faced with a sore throat. It’s often steeped in boiling water along with other herbs to make soothing teas, or added to chicken soup. And, it turns out, there may be some science to back up these age-old practices: a handful of studies have found that ginger may have anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease swelling.

Turmeric root, a plant in the ginger family that is native to Southeast Asia and long used in the Ayurvedic medical practices of India, can also reduce inflammation. But its effects have been challenging to prove because the main compound in the root, curcumin, isn’t easily absorbed in the body and curcumin supplements can vastly differ in composition.

Eating #turmeric in food or mixing it with a fatty substance, such as cooking oil or warm milk, may help you absorb more of the benefits of curcumin. Adding black pepper can also aid in its absorption, Dr. Romm said.

If your sore throat is compounded by a cough, gargling with #salt water may be helpful. Mix about half a teaspoon of salt in a full glass of warm water and swish it around your mouth and the back of your throat for a few seconds before spitting it out. Any type of salt you have at home can work.

Adding #honey to your gargling solution, or to any tea or warm drink, can have a similarly soothing effect. Honey acts as a demulcent, meaning it calms down irritated tissues by coating them. #flu #cold #cough

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