Cold season is coming! Did you know there are about 200 different viruses that cause the all-too-common cold?
With work, school, and everyday life duties, we just can’t afford to get sick. Whether you are trying to prevent a cold or trying to treat one, The 2002 Old Farmer’s Almanac gives us age-old remedies that may be the best medicine.
Before you dig in: Have you picked up your copy of The 2014 Old Farmer's Almanac  yet?
The Best Ways To Avoid The Worst Kind of Cold
Eat More Garlic and Onions:
Garlic and onions have long been valued for their healing powers. Garlic’s role in preventing sickness was confirmed in 1858, when Legion of Honor-winning chemist Louis Pasteur discovered that it killed bacteria. The distinctive flavor of garlic comes from allicin, which is similar to Mucodyne, a popular medication that helps expel mucus. Similarly, quercetin, an antioxidant in onions, has been found to destroy viruses and bacteria.
To use garlic to treat a cold, cut up fresh cloves and add them to chicken soup or other recipes, or swallow small chunks of raw garlic like pills. The effectiveness of processed garlic - powders, oils, and pills - varies. When you really need help, fresh is best.
Sip on Echinacea Tea:
American Plains Indians used Echinacea purpurea, or purple coneflower, as their primary medicine. They introduced European settlers to this daisylike perennial, which they drank as tea to treat colds. Today, this immune-enhancing herb is one of the best-selling herbal medicines in North America and Europe. Echinacea is believed to act like interferon, the body’s own virus-fighting chemical, which is released by infected cells so that other cells can fight invading viruses.
Echinacea can be taken as tablets, tincture, powder, or tea. Dosage varies depending on the potency, so follow label instructions carefully. If taken as tea, expect a tingling sensation on the tongue. Experts agree that the herb works best in cycles: Take it for no more than a couple of weeks at a time, with about a week’s break in between. Constant use may weaken the body’s natural immune response.
Pick a Pepper:
The mouth-burning ingredient in hot peppers and chilies is capsaicin, which chemically resembles the drug guaifenesin, an expectorant found in 75 percent of over-the-counter and prescription cold and cough remedies. The active agents in hot and spicy foods act as expectorants, loosening up the lungs’ secretions and unclogging air passages. Coughing and sneezing then expel cold viruses from the body. In this way, hot and spicy foods break up congestion, flush out sinuses, and wash away irritants.
So gargling with a few drops of Tabasco sauce in a glass of water, putting hot mustard on your sandwich, or chewing on a chili may do more for a cold than any pharmaceutical.
If you like yogurt, gobble it up; it may keep you healthy next winter. A study in 1993, involving 120 people, discovered that when 40 people consumed a cup of yogurt with active cultures every day for a year, they stayed much healthier than the 40 who ate yogurt without active cultures and the 40 who ate no yogurt.
If you’re thinking about joining this culture club, you should know that it takes at least a few weeks for gamma interferon (which fights off infection) to build up in your body, so plan ahead. Cold season starts in the fall, so start eating yogurt in the spring.