Alternatively Speaking: Say bye to the sniffles

Alternative medicine expert Natalie Marx answers your questions: What herbal remedies can help cure flu?

Kleenex (photo credit: Wikicommons)
(photo credit: Wikicommons)
Q. Dear Natalie, the flu is running through my family. What foods can I prepare to help those with the flu and those of us who do not want to catch it.A. There are many foods and drinks that can support you and your family’s wellness and recovery from the flu. I would encourage you to particularly focus on warm fluids, such as soup and warm herbal teas to both reduce and prevent flu symptoms.
It is true that a bowl of chicken soup is indeed the “Jewish penicillin.” Chicken soup helps relieve a blocked nose, inflammation and body aches that accompany the flu. The vegetables in the soup provide antioxidants that help our bodies to defend against disease and infection. The cooked chicken itself provides amino acids which help to repair tissue. The hot steam from soup can also reduce congestion. Make sure to avoid creamier soups since this could increase congestion due to milk being mucous forming. 
If you are vegetarian, try making a protein-rich soup including beans, lentils, tofu and split peas. Try to avoid caffeinated drink since this can disrupt your ability to rest. Adding a large spoonful of honey to tea can help sooth throat pain. The honey also provides a good amount of glucose which is the body's primary energy source. A squeeze of lemon in your tea will also provide a cleansing effect as well as an extra boost of Vitamin C.
By preparing food with more probiotics, you are increasing the “good” bacteria which improve digestion and also your body's ability to fight harmful bacteria and disease. Probiotics are found in cultured dairy products, such as yogurt and butter milk, however I encourage you to try fermented soy products and probiotic-fortified milk. 
These recommendations would not be complete without a gentle reminder to include the all-important Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant and is commonly known for its disease-fighting properties. Include more citrus fruits, berries, kiwifruit, red and green peppers, broccoli, tomato juice and cabbage. Spicy foods also help to reduce congestion. Try including horse radish as a sauce to help unblock your sinuses. Cayenne pepper is also another excellent choice to add to soups and cooked foods to help clear congestion.
Q. Dear Natalie, I have a terrible cough that will not go away. I have tried antibiotics but it returned after one week. Are there any herbal cough remedies that you can recommend?A. There are several effective herbs when it comes to clearing a lingering cough. Ginseng is one of my favorite and was first prescribed to me by a wonderful teacher and practitioner of Chinese medicine.Chinese medicine practitioners use ginseng for plenty of health ailments since it has a strong affinity to strengthen the immune system thereby helping to shift that lingering cough. Ginseng is usually prescribed before an illness becomes too deeply rooted in the body, so before the cough develops into something more serious, I suggest 400 mg daily. You can find Ginseng in all good health food stores.
Licorice root tea is also excellent for relieving coughing and soothing sore throats. It works by stimulating the prostaglandins to produce mucilage which coats the throat which offers soothing relief from tickling, itching and other symptoms associated with coughing. Licorice tea is available as either a loose dried herb or prepared in tea bags.
A fantastic Native American remedy for symptoms related to the respiratory tract is marshmallow root. This is particularly useful in your case, where there is deep coughing that persists for long periods. Most natural herbal cough syrups have marshmallow mixed in. Like licorice root, marshmallow helps protect and soothe the throat from additional irritation.
Q. Dear Natalie, strawberry season is here and I am very happy. Can you tell me about the benefits of strawberries?A. Eating strawberries is a wonderful pastime. Specifically, scientific evidence shows that strawberries are particularly good for the heart. Strawberries are also packed with antioxidants, providing a number of anti-cancer benefits. Strawberries are also excellent in helping to lower our levels of “bad cholesterol.” Since high levels of cholesterol can increase our risk of cardiovascular disease, eating strawberries can reduce the risk of developing strokes.
Strawberries have very powerful antioxidant properties which among other things make them helpful in the treatment against cancer. The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2008) carried out a study where they tested the antioxidant effects of strawberry extract on many different human cancer cells in vitro (oral, colon and prostate cancer cells) and discovered that it stopped their proliferation. This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment, including a women’s clinic every Wednesday. To make an appointment please email [email protected].Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer, email Natalie with your question at [email protected]Someone Once Said: ‘For fast-acting relief, try slowing down’  - Lily Tomlin