Feeling under the weather as the seasons change? There are quick, natural ways to get yourself on the mend after spring sickness in time to enjoy the gorgeous spring weather.
Protect your lungs with zinc.
Ideally, you want your immune system to attack and destroy invading viruses without damaging you — and zinc can help. This mineral energizes germ-killing white blood cells, but it also keeps them calm and organized, so they destroy invading germs without releasing a flood of tissue-damaging proteins called cytokines. No wonder Spanish researchers have found that taking 50 milligrams of zinc daily for one week can shorten the duration and severity of an illness — even COVID-19 — by as much as 42 percent.
Bolsters immunity with porch time.
At last, winter is over. But if you’re feeling under the weather, spending 30 minutes outdoors daily (either all at once or in smaller chunks) can cut symptom severity in half, plus trim four days off recovery time, British researchers say. Immunologist Jan Martel, MD, explains that daily exposure to fresh air and sunlight — even weaker UV rays — tamps down your body’s production of the immunity-suppressing stress hormone cortisol.
Halt viral spread with tea.
Can’t shake a cold? Sipping four mugs of sugar-free black, green, or oolong tea daily can cut symptoms by 32 percent, speed recovery by 35 percent, and reduce the risk of complications (like sinus infections and bronchitis) by as much as 75 percent.
University of Wisconsin researchers say plant compounds in these brews (EGCG and theaflavins) block the growth and spread of viruses, plus tamp down symptom-triggering inflammation. More good news: A study in the journal Phytomedicine reveals these compounds hinder growth of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Deepen sleep with lazy stretches.
Your body makes germ-killing antibodies while you sleep, so rest cuts recovery time by 55 percent. But it’s hard to sleep when you’re sick and sore! Thankfully, University of Connecticut scientists say 10 minutes of gentle “bed stretches” can cut aches by 35 percent, doubling your ability to sleep deeply. After getting in bed, make circles with your wrists and ankles, scrunch and relax your shoulders, or pull your knees toward your chest.
End throat pain with oregano gargles.
Gargling three times daily with an oregano brew ends throat scratchiness and pain within 48 hours for almost 100 percent of women studied, Canadian researchers say. Credit compounds in oregano leaves (thymol and carvacrol) that reduce tissue swelling, speed the healing of mucous membranes, and block the growth of invading viruses and bacteria.
To do: Steep 2 teaspoon of dried oregano in one cup of boiling water for five minutes, then strain. Shake gently before using and store leftovers in the fridge.
Heal sinuses with bathtub facials.
Targeting your sinuses while relaxing in a bath — by draping a hot, wet cloth across your eyes, cheeks, and nose — nixes sinus pain, cuts congestion by 55 percent in five minutes, and trims four days off your recovery time if you do it once daily, University of Pittsburgh researchers say. Jordan S. Josephson, MD, author of Sinus Relief Now, explains that moist heat calms pain nerves in sinus cavities, opens and drains sinuses and boosts the flow of immune cells to infected mucous membranes.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.