Changing seasons may be a natural process, but it also results in various illnesses, as people suffer from common cold, flu, fever, skin infections and allergies. This is mostly because at this time our body's immunity is weak as it tries to adapt itself to the changing climate. So to stay protected, a good habit would be to resort to natural ingredients that have long been touted as effective remedies for boosting immunity, fighting infections and being antiseptic in nature. Natural antiseptics can help by providing immediate aid against infections.
The truth is that our kitchen is a storehouse of amazing cures for different kinds of ailments without us even being aware of it. The more we delve into natural healing, the more beneficial properties we get to learn. According to the book Healing Foods by DK Publishing House, "Food is the bedrock upon which a healthy life is based, and is the body's buffer against the stresses, strains and the onslaught of an increasingly toxic environment."
Here are some ingredients that are known for their antiseptic properties:
1. Rosemary: Rosemary contains caffeic and rosmarinic acids, both potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that also have strong antiseptic properties. Its antioxidant action can help reduce inflammation, thereby helping to lower the risk of asthma, liver disease and heart disease. If used in a tea or gargle, it can help fight gum disease and relieve sore throats. It also contains a number of volatile oils, which have a sedative effect that help calm the nerves and ease stomach upsets.
Rosemary contains caffeic and rosmarinic acids, known for strong antiseptic properties; Photo Credit: Istock
2. Dill: Dill is a natural diuretic and anti-bacterial that can be effective against cystitis and bladder infections. Its essential oil constituents have a calming, anti-inflammatory effect on the digestive tract, which is why it has long been used as a treatment for stomach upsets and colic. Studies on animals suggest that it may also have a useful role to play in helping to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
3. Oregano: Oregano contains volatile oils thymol and carvacrol which may help in protecting against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body. These volatile oils have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans.
Oregano contains volatile oils thymol and carvacrol; Image credit: Istock
4. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is an aromatic spice which is known to be a first class antiseptic that can help fight bacteria, viruses and fungal infections. It is rich in antioxidants, that give it a mild analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect, and perhaps this is why it was traditionally used to aid recovery from colds, flu, sore throats, fever and headaches. Just smelling cinnamon is said to boost cognitive function and memory.
5. Star Anise: Although traditionally used to ease wind, hiccups and water retention, star anise excels in helping speed recovery from viral infections. Its potent antiviral properties are effective against both the herpes virus and the flu virus - so much so that its constituents have been harnessed by pharmaceutical companies to produce flu medicines.
Star anise's potent antiviral properties are very effective; Image credit: Istock
6. Honey: Even though honey is made up of mostly simple sugars and water, it has many medicinal properties, including its ability to help heal skin wounds and ulcers. It contains a great source of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and essential oils. Its hydrogen peroxide content is one reason why it may be effective at inhibiting bacterial growth on skin. When used topically, it can help speed wound healing.
7. Pomegranate Juice: Pomegranate is a wonder ingredient. All parts of the plant are used as medicine in Ayurvedic traditions; pomegranate juice is most valued for its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Studies show that extracts of the fruit are effective against dental plaque.