The most pungent of the plant kingdom inhabitants, garlic contains the immune-stimulating compound allicin, which promotes the activity of white blood cells to destroy cold and flu viruses. It also stimulates other immune cells, which fight viral, fungal, and bacterial infections. Garlic kills with near 100 percent effectiveness the human rhinovirus, which causes colds, common flu, and respiratory viruses.
Because allicin is released when you cut, chop, chew, or crush raw cloves, allow freshly chopped garlic to stand for 10 minutes and then cook it, sprinkle it over foods, drop it into soup, or swallow bits of garlic with some water like a pill. You can also drop a clove of garlic into some honey and swallow it immediately for a quick dose that tastes good!
Onions, like garlic, contain allicin. They also contain quercetin, a nutrient that breaks up mucus in your head and chest while boosting your immune system. Additionally, the pungency of onions increases your blood circulation and makes you sweat, which is helpful during cold weather to help prevent infections. Consuming raw onion within a few hours of the first symptoms of a cold or flu produces a strong immune effect.
Chopping onions into your favorite soup or cooked recipe is a great way to enjoy them. Also, it may sound a little weird, but putting half an onion in your bedroom while you sleep can help absorb some of the circulating bacteria and potentially lessen the symptoms of your cold.
Spicy, pungent, and delicious, ginger reduces fevers, soothes sore throats, and encourages coughing to remove mucus from the chest. Anti-inflammatory chemicals like shagaol and gingerol give ginger that spicy kick that stimulates blood circulation and opens your sinuses. Improved circulation means more oxygen is getting to your tissues to help remove toxins and viruses.
The cayenne family of hot peppers (cayenne, habanero, Scotch bonnet, and bird peppers, to name a few) contains capsicum — a rich source of vitamin C and bioflavonoids, which aid your immune system in fighting colds and flus. It does this by increasing the production of white blood cells, which cleanse your cells and tissues of toxins.
Cayenne pepper is also full of beta carotene and antioxidants that support your immune system and help build healthy mucus membrane tissue that defends against viruses and bacteria.