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DCL

This time of year traditionally offers many things for me to look forward to—voting booths, Superbowl parties, Fall foliage, a break from hot temperatures, a colorful and delicious pallet of root vegetables, warm casseroles and stews, spooky costumes, and plenty of holiday cheer and gratitude. But among all things I love so much during Fall and Winter months, there is also the presence of something I do not covet as dearly—the perpetual sneezing, runny nose fluid, swollen throat, and painful cough often associated with the common cold.

But did you know that the common cold or the flu cannot be cured or prevented by antibiotics, because it's a virus? In fact, using antibiotics pre-emptively or inappropriately can damage our immune system and make us more susceptible to other kinds of sick!

And on the topic of generous antibiotic intake, I'm sure you've heard the numerous reports on the alarming amounts of antibiotics and prescription drugs polluting drinking water across the country. According to an AP investigation, these drugs enter our water system simply and innocently from you and me taking them. Since a percentage of pills we swallow are not absorbed by our bodies, these meds end up existing our body with the rest of our fluids, flushed down the toilet. Toilet water is then treated and recycled, placed back in to the sources from where our drinking water originates.

So, as we all enter a new sniffle season, let's take it easy on our immune systems and our drinking water! Skip the antibiotics once we know symptoms are simply that of a viral common cold or Flu. And before running (or staggering) to the drug store to spend money on non-prescription medicine, here are a few natural solutions suggested by various health professionals that help prevent the common foe from thriving or invading our bodies in the first place:

- Eat garlic, garlic, and more garlic! With its antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, it is evident that this immune-boosting herb is nothing to turn your nose up to. And it's suspected that the chemical compound allicilin in garlic is the real champion inhibiting growth and even killing the germs.

To really gain the benefits of this natural remedy, professionals say to eat 1 bulb of raw garlic per day. But don't be discouraged, even cooked, it provides benefits. Herbalist Sarah Wu suggests cooking with garlic as often as possible. But if we're really committed to engaging its full cold-zapping potential Wu suggests we dice the raw bulb in to a few pieces, cover it with sweet honey, and swallow each piece with water as if we're swallowing a pill. Besides protecting our taste buds as we down raw garlic, honey also works as an immune booster and antiseptic to sooth our sore throat!

- Sip soothing teas made with ginger, elderberry fruit, lemon, honey, and cayenne pepper to reduce cold chills, sore throat, and to tame cold and flu bugs in action, as well as prevent them:

Ginger and cayenne pepper are both said to help induce healthy sweating while also clearing sinus congestion. Switch off mixing these medicinal wonders in to your tea from the onset of feeling sick. Add the juice from 1 whole lemon and a few spoonfuls of honey to add even more power to its punch. Lemon works as an antiseptics on the throat and provides an abundance of resistance-building vitamin C.

The anti-viral properties of the historic elderberry offers a gentle yet very potent solution to flu's side effects, helping loosen mucus in the lungs and boost our body's defense. Researchers explain that Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the fruit actually disarm flu and cold viruses already in the body as they hunt for healthy cells. Wu advises us, "Use elderberry syrup at first signs of flu symptoms to dramatically shorten the duration and intensity of the flu virus. And use only the syrup from Sambucus Nigra or black elderberry."

- Create a homemade gargle solution with organic apple cider vinegar and water. Apple cider vinegar is thought to help reduce swollen tissue and fight fungal, bacterial and viral infections. Simply mix 1-2 tablespoons with 6?8 oz. of warm, filtered water and add 1 tablespoon of honey to enhance its flavor. Now take a mouthful of the solution, gargle and spit it out. Take another mouthful and this time, swallow it! If you're unable to stomach the acidic zest, then skip swallowing the solution, but mix together a 50:50 solution of the vinegar with water only and do your thing.