Every year a nasty bug makes the rounds in schools, the office, and amongst friends and family. You wash your hands religiously, you wipe down your phone, door handles, and surfaces with disinfectant, and avoid your coughing companions like the plague. Despite your best efforts, you wake up one day with those terrible symptoms: cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache, fatigue etc… You’re sick!
Aside from bedrest, medication, and other practical advice to get over your cold or flu, drinking certain teas may bring relief, and might even help you recover faster.
Green tea contains many beneficial compounds, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and l-theanine. These compounds have antioxidant, as well as antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Drinking green tea throughout the day can not only help you stay hydrated and provide temporary relief to symptoms, it can also help fight the virus itself.
Keep in mind that green tea has caffeine, so don’t drink it too late in the day, or in too great a quantity.
While elderberry is a tasty addition to certain flavored tea blends, it has also been used for hundreds of years to treat respiratory infections.
Tea made from elderberries contains compounds that reduce inflammation in mucous membranes and has antiviral properties. Studies evaluating the effectiveness of elderberry found that participants were able to recover from flu days faster than those who did not consume elderberry.
There are several species of elder, but Sambucus nigra, AKA black elder, is the one used most often for medicinal purposes. Be careful if you are harvesting your own elder; not all elder is created equal. Some species, like dwarf elder, may be toxic. When you buy food with elderberries, it is usually the black elder variety.
Menthol and methyl salicylate, the active ingredients in peppermint, help thin mucous, making peppermint steam an effective decongestant and expectorant. A soothing infusion of peppermint tea may also help relieve a sore throat.
- Effects of Green Tea Catechins and Theanine on Preventing Influenza Infection among Healthcare Workers: A Randomized Controlled Trial: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3049752/
- 8 Tips to Treat Colds and Flu the ‘Natural’ Way: http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/8-tips-to-treat-colds-and-flu-the-natural-way#4
- Elderberry, University of Maryland Medical Center: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/elderberry
- Beat the Flu, Elderberry fights the virus and speeds recovery: http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/beat-flu
- Peppermint, University of Maryland Medical Center: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/peppermint