The Tightwad's Almanac: Relief for you and your wallet during cold and flu season - The Mena Star: News

The Tightwad's Almanac: Relief for you and your wallet during cold and flu season

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Posted: Wednesday, January 24, 2018 11:02 pm

During cold and flu season, it seems like money drips faster than the sniffles; our wallets suffer too.  It is estimated that Americans miss over 200 million workdays each year during cold and flu season. We spend more than $10 billion on flu-related doctor visits and hospitalizations. The cost of over-the-counter medications for colds and flu cost is over $17 billion annually. 

   According to the Journal of Family Practice.most over-the-counter cold remedies do not work. Their findings were based on medical evidence-based reviews of cold and flu drugs such as antitussives, antihistamines, decongestants, and others. The 2004 Cochrane Review of over-the-counter cough medicines did not show consistent evidence that any of them work reliably. An exception is pseudoephedrine which only reduces nasal congestion and has no effect on any of the other symptoms of colds and flu.


Time-honored remedies may provide relief


   For centuries, people relied on natural methods for relieving irritating cold symptoms. 12th-century Jewish physicians prescribed chicken soup to relieve symptoms of the common cold. This delicious remedy was later named “Jewish Penicillin.”  

   Today, scientists are knocking themselves out trying to discover why chicken soup works so well to relieve cold and flu symptoms. Although the scientific basis is unclear, researchers agree that chicken soup works to help clear congestion and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the respiratory system.  

   But Grandma knew that already. 

   There are as many chicken soup recipes as there are grandmas, but most share common ingredients that are beneficial for cold and flu sufferers: onions, garlic, carrots, chicken and more.  The legendary power of onion to reduce cold and flu symptoms such as coughs and congestion is well known and is listed in the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicines Portal. Studies show that garlic contains antiviral and antibacterial properties. Cooked carrots are known to help boost the immune response. Chicken is a rich source the amino acid cysteine, which helps to reduce the buildup of congestive mucus in the respiratory tract.

   So, the magic of chicken soup could be a combination of all the ingredients in the typical recipe.

   Not in the mood to make a pot of chicken soup?  Canned soup has been found to work as good as homemade, according to Dr. Stephen Rennard, who led the chicken soup research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. 

   Dr. Rennard concluded that these brands work quite well for easing cold symptoms:

   Campbell’s Healthy Request chicken noodle,  Campbell’s Home Cookin’ chicken vegetable, Progresso chicken noodle, Knorr’s chicken noodle, and Lipton Cup-o-soup chicken noodle.


Elderberry - Nature’s answer to Tamiflu


   Elderberry syrup is another old remedy that caught the attention of medical science, and it has been making news lately. Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu made elderberries internationally famous through the well-publicized research conducted at the Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 1995, It was demonstrated that Sambucus nigra species of elderberry was effective against a wide range of influenza viruses including human, swine and avian strains. This led to the development of a popular elderberry syrup preparation called Sambucol. It works best as a preventative, but as the saying goes, better late than never. Controlled clinical studies also demonstrated that Sambucol could reduce the severity and duration of influenza by half.

   Elderberry is also useful for bacterial sinusitis sufferers because it reduces excessive mucus in the sinus cavities, promotes better drainage, and helps reduce nasal congestion.

   The best time to start treating a cold or flu virus with elderberry is right after exposure, and before the virus has presented itself in full-blown symptoms because it works by preventing the virus from multiplying. Cold and flu viruses multiply so rapidly that it is critically important to begin treatment while they are few in number, and before they have a chance to mount a massive attack.

   I buy my Sambucol from and   

   Avoid taking elderberry if you have known allergy to plants in the honeysuckle (Caprifoliaceae family), or if you are taking theophylline. Elderberry may increase the effects of some cancer chemotherapies and may also increase adverse effects as well. Elderberry may lower blood sugar levels. If you are a diabetic, monitoring and medication adjustments may be needed.


Do you have a frugal tip or opinion you’d like to share?  Contact The Tightwad’s Almanac, P.O. Box 964, Mena, AR 71953.

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