Fall/winter medicine cabinet essentials for cold and cough season
By Health and Nutrition expert Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS
Have you ever noticed that when there’s a bug around your office, not everyone gets sick? Somebody is out for 10 days, someone else for a half day and some people don’t even get sidelined at all? Think about it. They’ve all been exposed to the same germ. So, why does this happen? Part of the reason may be how they stock their fall/winter medicine cabinets.
If your immune system is well nourished and healthy, it will withstand challenges a lot better. Those of us lucky enough to not get sick, stay healthy because our immune system is able to just bat the challenge aside. Or, at the very least, handle it and recover quickly.
This time of year, we buy jackets and decorate our homes for the various holidays. But we often miss another important task, which is to prepare for sniffles, coughs and other minor ailments by organizing and restocking the medicine cabinet. Rather than waiting to shop until you or a family member gets sick, it’s better to have the most effective remedies already on hand.
Start by doing the following:
- Choose a cool, dry storage place. Bathroom cabinets are okay as long as they don’t get warm and steamy during baths and showers. Many products degrade when exposed to humidity and warm temperatures.
- Check expiration dates. Toss any expired products. Many pharmacies offer safe medication disposal.
- Safely secure all medications and supplements if there are young children in the house. Lock these products in a high cabinet.
- Carefully review all labels. Now is a good time to remind yourself of any precautions. Many over-the-counter (OTC) drugs have warnings regarding their use in those who have serious medical conditions such as heart, kidney or liver disease.
- Understand dosing instructions. Some products for children are dosed by weight or age. Others are not safe or recommended for children.
Here’s what you might want to include in your medicine cabinet makeover:
- For overall wellness: Stock up on garlic. It’s been used since ancient times to ward off colds. I don’t recommend wearing it around your neck, but supplementing your diet with fresh garlic or garlic extract may help keep all those nasty germs away. When you use garlic for cooking, be sure to add it towards the end, and be sure to chop it up thoroughly. The active ingredient (allicin) is created by breaking down the cell walls.
- For the common cold: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 million school days are lost annually in the United States because of the common cold1. When it comes to our health, antioxidants are nature’s good guys. My go-to medicine cabinet staple is black elderberry. It contains flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have a remarkable ability to stimulate the body’s immune system2. Sambucol is the original black elderberry supplement used during cough/cold season for natural immune support. Sambucol Gummies are great for kids because they are pectin-based, and contain no artificial flavors or colors. They are also free of all major allergies including gluten, nuts, soy and dairy.
- For sore throats: Throat sprays with Echinacea, sage and peppermint can help. Buckwheat honey is also great for lubricating and soothing a sore throat. It contains antioxidants and nutrients that help speed healing. Buckwheat honey can be given to children age one year and over and is available in most health food stores.
- For dry skin: Fall and winter are notoriously hard on skin. To help keep it moisturized, try a light layer of coconut oil after a shower to trap moisture. Always have fresh razor blades on hand so you’re not inflicting tiny scrapes, and be sure to never run out of shaving cream or gel.
- For nausea, upset stomach: Studies show that the very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols found in ginger can help relieve motion sickness, dizziness, nausea and gas, and soothe the intestinal tract. You can find supplemental ginger in chewables and gummies in pharmacies and health food stores.
With these products readily available, you may be able to resolve many of your household’s typical health issues quickly and easily.
2.In a study published in The Journal of International Medical Research (2004), Sambucol Black Elderberry Extract was shown to reduce severity and shorten the duration of flu types A and B by up to four days. Sixty patients (29 females/31 males) ages 18 to 54 years with verified influenza were enrolled in the double-blind, placebo-controlled study. On average, patients taking Sambucol recovered in 3.1 days compared to 7.1 days for those given placebo. Symptoms were also made less severe with no significant side effects reported.
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, also known as “The Nutrition Myth Buster” ™ is a nationally known board-certified nutritionist and expert on diet and weight loss. He has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS as an expert on nutrition and has contributed to articles in The New York Times, Forbes, The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair Online, Men’s Health, Prevention, and dozens of other print and online publications.
Dr. Jonny is the best-selling author of 15 books including The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, Living Low Carb (now in its fourth edition), and is the co-author, with cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, of the controversial best-seller, “The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and the Statin-Free Plan that Will”. His latest book, Smart Fat: Eat More Fat, Lose More Weight, Get Healthy Now!– written with PBS star Steven Masley, MD— was published by Harper Collins in January 2016.
Follow him @jonnybowden