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Wet socks and other remedies

The food of love
The food of love

October is here: it’s drizzling, dark by 7pm, and we’re about to face that glorious time of year known as cold and flu season.

But it’s not all bad news. On the bright side, October means we can say it’s Christmas in two months, and early darkness means good box-set time. Plus, you can turn to this wealth of weird and wonderful remedies to ward off the dreaded winter lurgy…


Or at least, get down to your local fish counter.

Earlier this year, a report by the Department of Family Medicine, at the University of Alberta, revealed Zinc was the supplement we should be taking to ward off colds.

Studies found that it can up the function of white blood cells (the immunity ones) and boost the health of mucus membranes, which create the barrier against cold and flu viruses.

Oysters are one of the highest-zinc level foods around; half a dozen oysters will provide more than twice your daily zinc needs. If you’re not keen on seafood, spinach, nuts and mushrooms also provide high amounts of zinc. (Word of warning, too much zinc long-term can be dangerous).


The humble drink that keeps on giving; tea isn’t just comforting, packed with antioxidants, and proven to potentially help ward of dementia – it also helps fight colds.

Not the caffeine itself, to be fair, but studies have found that a hot drink can have ‘positive’ effects on nasal airflow, providing relief to a runny nose, cough, and blocked sinuses.


The ultimate old-wives’ cure for a cold, but is it a lot of (erm) broth-er over nothing? Well not entirely. Scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre, carried out experiments, and discovered that chicken soup can actually help fight colds.

It inhibits the migration of white blood cells, which may cause chesty coughs; the amino acid called cysteine found in chicken can help thin mucus, and therefore ease blocked noses. Plus, the pepper normally sprinkled in soups acts to lift congestion. On a simpler level, it’s also like a big culinary comfort blanket; that’s got to help too.


This is another well-peddled grandmother-style cure, but while it doesn’t hold quite the same sway as chicken soup, there is still some sense in it; garlic is believed to hold significant anti-bacterial and antioxidant qualities, and a past study in the US found that people who took garlic supplements for 12 weeks over winter got fewer colds than those who took a placebo.


Not content with the lingering waft of garlic? Up your odour by slicing up an onion and putting it in your socks, so says one historical remedy. It might sound a little unlikely, but there was (some) logic to it: onions contain allicin, a compound, also found in garlic, with infection-fighting qualities, and sulphur, which is believed to boost immune response.


We’re not done with the feet yet. A professor at a naturopathic medicine college in Canada recently argued that pulling on a pair of chilled wet socks at night can fight off a cold. She argues the cold encourages your body to boost circulation to your feet and direct it away from your congested head, while also regulating your immune system and eliminating toxic waste. Apparently…

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ImmunPRO is a medical device containing the plant extract Cistus villosus which creates a physical barrier in the throat to bacteria and viruses. German scientists discovered its action when investigating preventative treatments surrounding the H1N1 outbreak.

Cistus villosus is naturally rich in tannins (polyphenols), which, due to their large molecular structure, are not reabsorbed, but instead form a protective film that stops viruses from penetrating the mucous membrane of the mouth and prevents a virus from docking with host cells. Simply suck one tablet when you are at increased risk for two hours’ protection.

ImmunPRO can also be taken at the onset of infection and because of its purely physical action, prevents the possibility of viruses building a resistance to the treatment.

Hübner’s ImmunPRO has just launched in Boots, priced at £7.95 for 15 tablets

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