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Natural ways to fight your cold or flu

A bowl of chicken noodle soup is seen in this undated file photo.

January 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Recent research suggests food might be the trick to help perk you up when you're under the weather. There are some natural ways to fight that cold or flu.

Dr. Jonny Bowden, a nutrition expert, said there is no cure yet, but there are a lot of things you can do to shorten the cold and flu, which might have you in bed for a week.

The hard to find antioxidant packed elderberry can help. It is sold in extract form like Sambucol.

"[There are] studies in Israel on this where they gave people with the flu Sambucol and other people did not get it, and the people who got it had only one to two days of downtime as opposed to six or seven days," said Bowden.

Bowden, who is a consultant for the company, also says if congestion is an issue, try a nasal system with Alkalol, a medicated essential oil found in many drug stores.

"You just put the product in there and you inhale it through here, and it really is very, very pleasant, which works wonderfully when you've got sinusitis and you've got all that stuffiness," said Bowden.

You'll also find an amino acid that is a known immune booster in green tea.

"There's an ingredient called L-theanine, and that is the one that has really been directly correlated with this relaxation effect, this focused attention," said health expert Chris Noonan.

Drinking tea is easy. There's also a purified form known as Suntheanine, which is its name not a brand. It is available in health food and drug stores.

They say chicken soup has merit. It seems like a wives tale, but it dates back to Roman times. Scientifically, the broth thins the mucus and helps ease respiratory congestion.

It turns out white blood cells called neutrophils congregate in the body when viruses cause inflammation, creating discomfort. In the lab, chicken soup restrained the neutrophils' actions, providing relief. Homemade is better, but store bought does the job.

And finally, while many love olives, it turns out olive leaf extract has merit. It is loaded with the plant chemical polyphenols.

"They're anti-microbial, they fight viruses, they fight bacteria," said Bowden.