Upper respiratory tract infections also termed “URTI” are, no doubt, one human’s most frequent illnesses (1). By extension, they are can very disturbing, frustrating, and highly inconveniencing as well. In precise terms, I am referring to mild and chronic dry coughs, sore throat, sneezing as well as thick mucus-filled nasal congestion (2). Natural medicine is becoming go-to support, both as a single therapy and as an integrative ingredient in the pharmaceutical formulations for URTI treatments.
The reoccurring nature and familiarity attached to respiratory tract infections (URTI), such as common cold, quickly make it seem like a public nuisance than a health threat. However, these infections are sometimes responsible for death among elderly and immunocompromised individuals (3).
While children averagely experience four to six symptomatic colds per year, their adult counterparts record two to three symptomatic colds per annum (4).
More so, susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) varies from person to person depending on their immune system and other numerous factors. Suffice it to say that a virus or bacteria mostly cause most URTIs. Only in few instances are infections fungal causative or of a helminthic origin (5). Typical symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) include cough, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, headache, low-grade fever, and sneezing.
In cases of some infection like common cold, the patient may experience coughing and nasal discharge for up to 14 days, even after the halt of other symptoms.
It is worthy of note to opine that immunization is not practicable in the curb of any upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) simply because there exist hundreds of strains of these viruses. In the end, the only solutions are one:
A. turning to treatments preferably, natural medicine with symptom-reducing benefit, and potent effect on lung health.
B. engaging in prevention, behavioural strategies in response to the contagious and environmentally-prone nature of these infections (6).
Consequently, it is advisable to imbibe a culture of regular hand washing, frequent exercise, and avoidance of spew dirt, soot, or any form of indoor/outdoor compromised air quality (6).
4 Natural options for URTI Treatment
Natural medicines emaciate from beneficial botanical, which have been utilized age long and evaluated by randomized controlled trials (RCT) as “tried and true.” With the clinical effectiveness of these traditional remedies, they can be selected over or complemented with conventional therapies, such as antihistamines, decongestants, for URTI medications. Few of these ancient botanicals include:
The Echinacea plant is a native of North America. It has been scientifically noticed due to its roots recording high bioavailability and immunoactivity. Today a lot of clinical studies and randomized trials have been conducted into its biological plausibility. With most of the results coming out green , echinacea extracts are now widely used in America, Europe, for the immune boost for the prevention and treatment of the common cold. Notable among these studies is a-24 randomized trials involving more than 3000 participants (7).
These trials aver that echinacea can palate the hash symptoms of common colds and other upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). Although some of these studies recorded specific allergic reactions; however, the use of echinacea suggests no dose-dependent adverse effects or major drug interaction concerns (7). Echinacea is also available in tablets, tinctures, capsules, extracts, and tea forms. Needful to say that echinacea enhanced ointments are also effective for tropical treatment.
Astragalus manifests crucial antioxidant function and provides a healthy inflammatory response for the lungs (8). The Astragalus plant also signifies as a pivotal herb in traditional Chinese medicine (9). It is regularly mixed with other herbs, to formulate a treatment of varying degrees of ailments, ranging from heart and liver conditions to kidney diseases.
Today, astragalus has recorded dozens, if not, hundreds of recovery in the treatment and prevention of the common cold (10). As a healthy anti-inflammatory, astragalus supports respiratory tissues from the damaging effects of dry air and air contaminants (10) . Supplements like the Swisse-Natural Herbal Lung Cleansing tablets feature astragalus as an integrative ingredient alongside other vitamins and herbal extracts.
- Bee Propolis
Propolis, also known as “bee glue,” exhibits natural, antibacterial properties and antimicrobial activity that helps soothe mild coughs and grant relief to sore throat. The substance extracted from the hive is composed of a mixture of beeswax, resins, sap, botanical compounds , and the saliva of bees. Propolis also bears immune-boosting and cancer-fighting properties (11). Its botanical composition contains up to 10% essential oils and 5% bee pollen alongside hundreds of other beneficial natural compounds. Kids may often find Propolis a fond choice for treating sore throat and mouth infections.
Spirulina is a non-toxic variety of Arthrospira bacteria. It is also a blue looking algae that is often used as a vegan source of protein and vitamin B12. Spirulina exhibits potent anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects on lung health (12). A 2015 research conducted on the impact of spirulina in bronchial asthma verified that long-term supplementation of spirulina facilitates improvement in the treatment of bronchial asthma (13). The study also noted that faster recovery was observed when medication and spirulina were administered together (13 ). This research and other related results explain why spirulina is utilized in a growing number of supplements that reduce allergic rhinitis symptoms, such as sneezing, stuffy nose.
The list of natural remedies for URTI treatment is inexhaustive. There are also numerous studies supporting other natural options such as f garlic, elderberry, ginseng, and ginger. Apart from being cost-effective and easily accessible, natural medicines are entirely safe and in most cases render multiple benefits to the body aside from the sole motive at hand. Consequently, in the absence of raw herbs or plants, it is highly recommended to prioritize drugs and therapies with one or more integration of natural extracts.
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11. KATIE WELLS. Bee Propolis Benefits to Fight Everything From Colds to Cancer. wellnessmama. [Online] 05 04, 2018. [Cited: 06 28, 2020.] https://wellnessmama.com/366380/propolis/.
12. Examine. [Online] https://examine.com/supplements/spirulina/.
13. RU Labhe, UV Mani,UM Iyer,M. Mishra,K. Jani &A. Bhattacharya. The Effect of Spirulina in the Treatment of Bronchial Asthma. Journal of Nutraceuticals, Functional & Medical Foods. [Online] 07 06, 2015. [Cited: 06 28, 2020.] https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J133v03n04_06#:~:text=Significant%20improvement%20in%20lung%20function,treating%20mild%20to%20moderate%20asthma..