Consider alternative medicine to get through cold and flu season

Those days where everyone in your class is coughing and sneezing are upon us. But when getting good sleep and taking medication are just not enough, start thinking about natural ways to get through the sick days ahead. 

Everyday foods, for example, such as honey, ginger and mint, have always been around to make any hot beverage soothing for that stubborn cold. While they are no absolute cure, herbal medicines, such as in teas or capsules, are ideal for people who want natural and often immediate relief.

“I’m all about sick teas,” said Ndekela Sakala, a junior studying biochemistry and psychology employed at the Scented Leaf Tea House and Lounge. “What I’ve been doing lately is mixing our Pink Ribbon Peppermint with ginger, lemon and honey, just because the mint opens up your airways, the ginger is spicy and coats your throat along with the smoothness of the honey.”

What is special about peppermint? According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, is it acts as both a decongestant and expectorant because it contains menthol, an organic compound that thins mucus, breaking up coughs and phlegm. These effects are similar to those in popular over-the-counter drugs.

Deciding between plants or drugs is entirely up to the individual, but how to administer these herbal therapies will still require consultation to some degree, especially for therapies targeting more serious or chronic conditions.

“I think it is great that the public is so interested in herbal medicines,” said Dr. David Kiefer, an associate clinical professor of medicine at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, “but people need to know what they’re doing.”

According to Kiefer, consulting a doctor or a pharmacist would greatly reduce the risks of herbal medicine misuse, including mislabeling and overdose. At-risk groups include children and pregnant women, whose fetus may experience negative side effects from therapy exposure.

While pharmaceuticals are fast and convenient, some may prefer an alternative.

“Working here at the Scented Leaf has really put into perspective on how people wanted to be treated,” Sakala said. “Not everyone wants the drug.”

Herbal medicines, from teas to capsules, have huge potential.

“There’s no special demographic that may benefit from plants more than others,” Kiefer said. “Plants are part of who we are.”


Follow Pearl Lam on Twitter.



Share this article