Superfruit to the Rescue!

It’s that time of year… people are starting to come down with colds and the flu as the damp, cooler weather sets in. Coworkers are signing up for flu shots in droves. Parents have to take sick time to care for their sick kids, and often they wind up becoming ill too. So what’s a Washingtonian to do?

You could:
a) Take drugs
b) Take fruit

“Huh?” you say. Recently my uncle sent me an email that discussed taking elderberry extract instead of getting a flu shot. Some people can’t get flu shots, like those allergic to egg, or choose not to. At first I thought the idea sounded a bit dramatic… but then I tried it.

For about $11 at your local health food market or vitamin store you can pick up a product like Herb Pharm’s alcohol-free Black Elderberry extract. It’s a small dropper bottle, and you use 30 to 40 drops of it in water two to four times a time.

There is something about cooked elderberry (the berry only) that helps it bind to the surface of viruses and bacteria, so it is a great help in slowing colds and the flu down. Look for empirical evidence like scientific studies and you might not find much, but ask people who use it, and you’ll hear how much it helps knock such sicknesses down.

Another great help during stuffy sinus season is bromelain. Bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme that comes from the stems and other non-food parts of the pineapple. People who are allergic to pineapple and olive pollen can’t use it, and many people who are allergic to bee stings can’t. So this is not one you should use without knowing your limitations because you could end up reacting to it.

Bromelain helps eliminate mucus, making it helpful for both sickness and allergies. It’s an aid for healing, like after you have surgery. Some people say it’s helpful in weight loss but I haven’t seen any solid evidence of that. I do know that it’s a great supplement to elderberry when you’re not feeling up to snuff.

Another helpful tool for managing sinus trouble and allergies is the esteemed ceramic neti pot. This is a small teapot looking device that you use to irrigate your sinuses. While it sounds absurd, I know people who say it’s the single best way to diminish allergy and sinus symptoms by a long shot. You can watch videos about it on YouTube and find all sorts of information about this on the web. When used properly, it usually gets two thumbs up from users.

Why take drugs that leave you drowsy and crabby when you can solve some of these problems in a natural way? So remember these three terms as we face the fall and winter: elderberry, bromelain, and neti pot. While you’re at it, you might want to throw some vitamin D in there as many Northwesterners get low on that during these overcast months. Some people absorb it better in liquid form than others, like the Carlson brand D-drops.

No medical information on this site is ever intended to replace that given by a doctor. Your health is your responsibility, and you should not take supplements without knowing how they might react with drugs you take or if you have a reaction to them. But do check into these– they are a cost-effective, generally side effect-free way to feel better during yuck season.


Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. -Groucho Marx

©2011 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/


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