It’s that time of year where coughs and colds seem to be affecting everyone around you. Whilst healthy vegan food can work wonders in keeping your immune system at its best, every now and then you might feel that dreaded tickle at the back of your throat, or have a nose that just won’t stop running.
Here are nine natural, vegan remedies to get your health back on track as soon as possible.
9 Best Natural Vegan Cough and Cold Remedies That Actually Work
Bananas can soothe an upset stomach and help manage diarrhea, according to healthcare website WebMD, likely due to the fruit’s soluble fiber content. Bananas are also rich in potassium, electrolytes, and vitamin B6; the fruit is “about as good as it gets when it comes to strengthening your immune system,” says Reader’s Digest.
Try it sliced in oatmeal or dairy-free yogurt, on pancakes, in a smoothie, or just eaten as is.
2. Marshmallow Root
This herb has long been used as a treatment for coughs and colds, Medical News Today reported. Due to its mucilage—a thick substance that coats the throat—marshmallow root can lessen the irritation.
Researchers tested its effectiveness and found that 90 percent of people who consumed herbal cough syrup made up of marshmallow root, thyme, and ivy found it to be “good” or “very good” at battling common colds and respiratory tract infections.
Try it in powder form, as a tablet, or dropped as a liquid into tea.
3. Sweet Potato
Could sweet potato be “nature’s healthiest vegetable”? Reader’s Digest things so. The root veg is packed with beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A, which the body needs to produce enough white blood cells to combat infection.
“One medium sweet potato provides over 100 percent of your vitamin A for the day, a vitamin that helps regulate the immune system and protects from infections by keeping our skin and internal tissues healthy,” Alex Miller, MS, RDN, corporate dietitian at Medifast, told Reader’s Digest.
You can enjoy sweet potato baked with kale and vegan tahini dressing, which balances comfort food and nutrition. You could also cook it in a vegan gnocchi recipe.
According to Healthline, the health benefits of ginger “have been touted for centuries.” It has anti-inflammatory properties, meaning it can help relieve a dry cough. A study on ginger’s effects on humans and animals found that its anti-inflammatory compounds can relax the membranes in the airways, helping to reduce coughing.
Healthline recommends boiling water with slices of raw ginger root to make a get-well-quick drink that can soothe a cough or sore throat. It also notes that ginger can reduce nausea.
Have it in a juice, as a supplement, or even in Chimes Ginger Chews, a spicy and chewy treat created to curb nausea.
This plant-based food contains the compound allicin which could have antimicrobial properties, Healthline said. A garlic supplement may alleviate cold symptoms and could even prevent sickness, according to research.
It also provides manganese, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.
Healthline says: “garlic has been used for centuries as both a food ingredient and a medicine. In fact, eating garlic can provide a wide variety of health benefits. This includes reduced heart disease risk, improved mental health, and enhanced immune function.”
Add garlic into a sauce, pasta dish, or whip up a vegan Thai stir-fry with garlic-fried tofu.
This fruit contains the enzyme bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties and could have mucolytic properties, which can help break down and remove mucus from the body, according to Medical News Today.
Enjoy pineapple in a fruit salad, as a smoothie, or as a juice. You can also take bromelain supplements.
Coughs, sore throats, bronchitis, and digestive issues could be improved with this herb, which contains antioxidants and acts as a decongestant.
Thyme contains vitamins C and A as well as fiber, iron, and calcium.
Dropping some thyme essential oil into a warm bath could have a soothing effect, according to Healthline.
You can also consume thyme in a tea or in a herbal cough syrup
Fluids are important all-year-round, but especially when you’re unwell. WebMD explained that green tea, in particular, contains catechin, a phytochemical that many believe has natural antibiotic and anti-diarrhea effects.
The drink acts as an antiviral agent, helping to reduce cold symptoms like sneezing.
Not a fan of green tea? Other warm liquids can suffice. Research found that hot beverages help soothe symptoms like sore throats, chills, and fatigue. Try warmed fruit juices, water, or decaffeinated black tea.
“Drink plenty of water, juice or soup,” says WebMD. “All that liquid helps loosen up the mucus in your nose and head. Stay away from booze, coffee, and caffeine when you’re looking for things to sip, though.”
Carrots—rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin K, and antioxidants—can help fight infection.
“They contain lots of beta-carotene, which our body can use to make vitamin A – a vital nutrient both for immunity and also for the mucous membranes – the ‘inner linings’ of our body, including those of our lungs and respiratory passages,” nutritionist Cassandra Barns said to The Express.
Munch on some carrot sticks, dip them in hummus, or add shavings of the vegetable to a lasagne, pasta, or sandwich. Carrot juice is an easy way to rehydrate and get nutrients. Or if you feel like getting crafty in the kitchen, you can include carrot in a vegan Thai red curry, a roasted carrot avocado salad, or in energy-boosting carrot bliss balls.