Natural health: Treating throat infections during winter

Natural health: Treating throat infections during winter

I tend to get painful throat infections during the winter. Is there a natural treatment I could take?

A. The short and simple solution is to supplement with zinc. This mineral is well known as being important for a healthy immune system, but it is particularly useful in treating infections because zinc is naturally secreted into fluids by the body as an antiseptic. Not only is this helpful when dealing with throat infections, but also infections of any organ or tissue.

You can find zinc in the form of a lozenge, which is ideal since this delivers the mineral directly to the throat. Suck on a lozenge for as long as you can, taking one every couple of hours throughout the day to help target the affected area.

Zinc is also important for helping to reduce the duration of the cold virus in adults, but research indicates that it makes little or no difference in children. You can also make sure that you get plenty of zinc in through your food.

The best dietary sources are nuts, beans, dairy products, chickpeas, fruit, eggs, wholegrain cereals, pumpkin seeds, potatoes, figs, yeast, tahini, and most meats.

Another tried and true natural remedy for any kind of throat infection is the good old lemon and honey drink. This combination will help to soothe the inflammation and inhibit infection. You can also add in garlic, ginger, cayenne, turmeric, and thyme to supercharge the infusion.

To help with the pain you are experiencing, you can make a soothing herbal combination using slippery elm powder and marshmallow root.

Both of these herbs work by soothing the membranes, making swallowing much less painful. Make a cold infusion by brewing enough for a whole day — infuse 4 teaspoons of dried herb in a litre of cold water overnight, then strain and drink throughout the following day.

You can also gargle with this liquid for instant relief. If you can’t find marshmallow root, then just using the slippery elm will work well. Please do go and see a doctor or ENT if you find yourself unable to swallow, develop a rash, or the infection just won’t budge no matter what you do.

My 10-year-old son suffers from frequent tummy upsets, which can lead to diarrhoea. What would you recommend?

A. It is definitely important that you get your son checked for common gastrointestinal disorders such as coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

His symptoms could indicate the presence of an underlying condition, and it is essential that you know what you are dealing with so that you know the best way to support and heal your son.

There is a dietary protocol specifically formulated to help relieve symptoms and minimise the impact of these disorders and other similar complaints. It is known as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and is clearly explained by Elaine Gottschall in her book, Breaking the vicious cycle: Intestinal health through diet.

Steve Wright and Jordan Reasoner have further explanded on Gottschall’s work by creating the website www.healthygut.com full of information and resources for anybody suffering from autoimmune disorders, leaky gut, diarrhoea, constipation, heartburn and reflux, along with a number of other gastrointestinal issues.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) works on the basic principle that eliminating complex carbohydrates, refined sugars, and lactose for a significant length of time will starve out the harmful bacteria in our intestines. These bacteria thrive on complex carbohydrates (disaccharides and polysaccharides), and when their numbers increase, the gut wall becomes inflamed as a result of the byproducts of the bacteria population.

Diets high in refined and processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats can trigger or even cause a number of intestinal issues, as can antibiotics. As well as opting for local seasonal produce and wholefoods, it can be useful for many sufferers to eliminate wheat and/or dairy.

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