Cold season might be mostly over here on the ground — but when you’re at 30,000 feet, EVERY season is cold season.
Once they seal the door on the plane, you’re trapped in a metal tube, inhaling the same recirculating air as all your fellow passengers.
A guy burps in row 1, and eventually it’s going to waft back to you in row 28. And that’s not even the worst of it — because if that same guy is carrying disease-causing germs, one little cough or sneeze will send them out for the grand tour of ALL the rows.
That’s why you’re more likely to get sick after traveling by air, but researchers have now discovered how you can beat the odds: Just get some elderberry before your flight.
Unlike their sweet and juicy brethren, elderberries aren’t exactly a snack you’d grab by the handful. They’re so bitter that they need a truckload of sugar before they can be turned into jam or pie…and even then, if you ask me, they’re kinda blech.
But wouldn’t you know it, what’s bitter on your taste buds is sweet for fighting off a cold. In a new study, elderberry extract beat a placebo in preventing colds in some air travelers and cutting their duration and easing symptoms in the less fortunate jetsetters.
In fact, folks given the extract were nearly a third less likely to get sick. The researchers say that results weren’t dramatic enough to be statistically significant, but to me, they’re also pretty hard to ignore.
The study did find some numbers that ARE significant: Travelers given the extract had a much easier time with the cold when they did get sick. They reported fewer days overall battling the sniffles and sneezes, and the symptoms themselves were half as a bad than in folks who took a placebo.
That’s not all elderberry can do, either. It can also fight the flu, with one study finding that it’s as effective as the drug Tamiflu — but without the infamously awful side effects.
You can read more about that study right here.
But if you’re getting ready to fly, don’t stop with elderberry.
Be sure to kick up your immune system with vitamins C and D as well as fish oil, the mineral zinc, and the herbal remedy Echinacea. These should help protect you from some of the more common bugs floating around out there.
Of course, you should be aware of where you’re going and what risks you might face there, so you can prepare accordingly.
And if traveling means picking up something like the Zika or Ebola viruses that are floating around, there comes a time when the best travel decision you can make is to stay home.