Summary: Which Cold And Flu Medicine Is Best For Vegans
No easy to find cough medicine is 100% vegan friendly, and they all appear to be just about the same.
Most cough medicines are likely tested on animals, have artificial colors , and ambiguous ingredients like glycerin that may or may not be vegan.
Since veganism is mostly about reducing animal harm whenever possible, most vegans would be okay with taking any common cough syrup above . It can reasonably argued that there are just no practical alternatives.
This is a pretty grey area for vegans since cough medicine isnt mandatory , so if youd like to discuss anything or have a question, just let me know in a comment below. Im happy to revisit this topic.
Chaga And Reishi Mushrooms
Known as the king and queen of the mushroom world, chaga and reishi both help to support and modulate the immune system, protect against colds and flu, and they have anti-cancer properties. Tougher whole mushrooms like chaga and reishi will need to be boiled or tinctured for consumption, but you can also find mushroom powders in natural health food stores or cook with other culinary mushrooms, like in my famous mushroom soup recipe.
What Is The Difference Between Vegans And Vegetarians
The difference between vegans and vegetarians is that most vegetarians eat products which come from animals, such as eggs and dairy products.
However, this can differ from person to person, as some vegetarians choose to avoid eggs but still eat dairy, or the other way around.
If you have a friend who is a vegetarian or vegan and youre not sure what they choose to eat, just ask them!
A friendly, open conversation can go a long way when it comes to understanding vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, and your friend isn’t going to bite your head off – they’re vegan after all!
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Beat Sickness The Cruelty
Although I rarely get sick since I went vegan, none of us can avoid the dreaded flu forever. If you do come down with a nasty virus, there are plenty of natural remedies and immune system boosters that are cruelty-free so neither you nor animals have to suffer.
Olive-leaf extract contains oleuropein, an antioxidant which may convert to elenolic acid once consumed, which has potential antibacterial and antiviral properties. Many people believe this makes olive-leaf extract extremely beneficial in reducing flu and cold symptoms. Its vegetarian, but just be sure to avoid any supplement that comes in gelatine capsules.
Taking a steamy shower helps ease nasal congestion and can help relieve the pain of a sore throat. You can also alleviate congestion by adding a couple of drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to a bowl of boiling water and placing a towel over your head and the bowl as you breathe deeply for 30 seconds although its best not to do this if you have asthma.
Echinacea is another natural remedy that is believed to enhance immune defences, help prevent respiratory tract infections and shorten the duration and severity of a cold. A large number of vegan-friendly capsules and tincture options are available if you want to give Echinacea a try, and most of them contain other beneficial herbs such as liquorice root, garlic and horseradish.
What Symptoms Does It Relieve
Diphenhydramine can help provide relief for the following symptoms caused by allergies, hay fever, or the common cold:2
- Red, itchy, water, or irritated eyes
- Runny, itchy nose
Diphenhydramine may also help relieve cough due to minor airway or throat irritation.2 Its important to note that while diphenhydramine can help provide relief for the above symptoms, it is not intended to treat the cause of the symptoms.2
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What Else We Considered
The experts and I discussed several products here are some other options that were good, but didn’t make the top spots:
Original Neti Pot : The original Neti Pot is awesome , but its price point could make it less accessible thus, it was edged out by an inexpensive, equally effective option.
Zarbee’s Elderberry Lozenges : These are tasty, honey-based , but only had 2mg of zinc so it lost to stronger zinc contenders.
Zicam Cherry Lozenges : A crowd favorite, these use two types of zinc, but also red dye number 40 to achieve that cherry flavor , which is a controversial dye .
Live Better Sterile Saline Nasal Mist: Some people like to use nasal mists in lieu of a Neti Pot and while this seemed to be a solid option, the nasal rinsing pots appear to have more positive clinical data in their favor.
Immune Support Is Important
In general, all doctors and medical professionals say it’s important to focus on supporting your immune system particularly in natural ways to ensure you’re staying healthy all season long, especially with COVID-19 cases surging.
That’s because research shows a stronger immune system lowers your chances of coming down with a cold or flu.
Dr. Firouzi practices not just modern Western medicine but also the ancient Indian holistic branch of medicine called Ayurveda. This was created thousands of years ago, centered on a preventative approach to health and wellness that balances the mind, body, and spirit to minimize the need for treatment down the line.
“We are often searching for something to take for our specific health issues fundamentally, though, from the Ayurvedic standpoint, is the need to prevent the infection , which can in part be achieved through the strengthening of our immune system,” he said.
Megen McBride echoed this, emphasizing that preparation is paramount for preventing illness in times of high contagion .
There are a number of natural ways to balance your immune system both preventatively and once a virus has taken hold. Dr. Firouzi’s Ayurvedic recommendations are lifestyle-based and include sleep, meditation, yoga, and a healthy diet . These “can improve the immune system’s response ,” he said.
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Cold Medicine Ingredients And Flu Medicine Ingredients
Cold and flu medicines come in all shapes and sizes, with many different ingredients.
When youre in the over-the-counter medications aisle looking for cold and flu relief, you generally reach for a product because of the symptoms it treats. But when you only have a minute, you may not have time to really understand the list of ingredients in that product. Each ingredient treats a specific symptom so its important to understand what they are and what they do. Using various Theraflu products, lets examine some of the main symptom relieving ingredients youll find in over-the-counter cold and flu medication.
How Effective Is Natural Medication
“Natural therapies are generally therapies that work within the natural biological systems and processes of the body,” said McBride. “They’re used for supporting, tonifying, and balancing the body so that our immune responses to infections are more appropriate, and better tolerated to our whole being.”
The efficacy of natural medications is a highly contentious, ongoing debate. This is because we judge efficacy by two standards: Peer-reviewed studies and scientific trials, and anecdotal evidence. And we don’t have nearly as many scientific studies or trials showing herbs, vitamins, and other natural treatments to be unquestionably effective like we do for pharmaceuticals.
However, there’s something important to consider: Many studies and trials are funded by the pharmaceutical industry itself. These studies are needed for FDA approval of a product but they’re expensive, and many companies often can’t get the necessary funding without the kind of backing the industry offers. Thus, natural medications don’t always have equal footing, nor as much opportunity to showcase their power.
Framing of the data is important, too. For instance, while vitamin D may not directly fight the influenza virus, it’s been clinically shown to be a crucial element in immune function, despite arguments against its effectiveness from Western doctors.
McBride also noted that the only flu protection option the NIH and CDC recommend is the flu shot, which reduces the risk of flu by 40 to 60% .
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Does The Method Of Manufacture Of The Medicine Involve The Use Of Non
Creon® Contains porcine pancreatic enzymes2. Unfortunately all pancreatic enzyme replacement products are currently derived from non-human animals.
Cholecalciferol Manufacture involves the use of lanolin from sheeps wool. Vitamin D2 is vegan, but watch out for the excipients in the final product they might not be.
This information can sometimes be obtained from the manufacturers product information . You can access these at www.medicines.org.uk, but they are aimed at healthcare professionals so can be complicated. The manufacturers website, for branded products, may also be of use.
Why Wouldnt Cough Medicine Be Vegan
There are 4 main issues that can cause a particular cough medicine to not be vegan friendly. Some of these are a bit controversial:
Ive gone over all the top cough medicine brands below, and they all contain glycerin and some artificial colors at the very least. Again, though, the glycerin may be from a plant source, we just cant say for sure.
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Coughing And Sore Throat
Your poor lungs are simply trying to clear themselves up! There are two kinds of coughing productive and unproductive . Try these remedies:
- Suck on cough drops, lozenges, or sugar-free hard candy to soothe and moisten a dry, irritated throat.
- Prop your head up when you sleep.
- Gargle with warm saltwater to help soothe a sore throat and potentially reduce coughing .
- Boil hot water and mix in one part lemon juice to two parts agave syrup. Cool, then drink to relieve throat irritation.
- Trap the steam from your shower in your bathroom and stay inside for 10 minutes, or simply take a hot bath to help relieve coughing spasms.
Fruit Salad with Cacao Nibs | Jennifer | CC BY 2.0
How To Shop For Natural Cold And Flu Products
Even though you can buy homeopathic and natural products freely without a prescription, the experts I talked to all emphasized the importance of conferring with a medical professional before trying something new.
“Because herbs are powerful and should be respected as the wonders they are, it’s important to seek out knowledgeable professionals,” said McBride. “High dosing herbs can change your body’s biochemistry and alter your microbiome, or the flora and organisms living within your gut.”
While everything on this list is safe, gentle, and available over-the-counter, if you’re taking anything for more than seven to 10 days, check-in with your doctor.
When shopping, the approach isn’t just to mute your symptoms, but more so to manage them and help support your immune system in order to minimize infections in the future. With any natural remedy, consider the following:
A formula’s active ingredients: Active ingredients are the herbs, minerals, and chemicals included in the formula and at a dose high enough to where they’ll be effective. You want to ingest active ingredients that have been studied in clinical trials and are proven to be effective against the common cold, influenza, or their symptoms. They also need to be deemed safe by either your doctor, the World Health Organization, the FDA, or the CDC and with minimal side effects.
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Which Medicines Are Not Vegan
After essentially stating that no medicines can be classified as 100% vegan, it is fair to say that there are some medicines that are more vegan than others. For instance, a drug that contains gelatine as an ingredient is clearly far from vegan. In contrast, a drug containing an ingredient that is not derived from animals but which has been tested on animals in the past, or a seemingly vegan-friendly medication produced by a company that undertake animal experimentation, might be seen by some as slightly further along the vegan-friendly spectrum.
While strict vegans would not accept that medication tested on animals could be seen as vegan, many who follow a vegan lifestyle would take the pragmatic view that their health allows the ethical lines to be blurred somewhat. There are thousands of different ingredients used in the myriad medications and treatments employed by the healthcare sector. In the UK, it is possible to research exactly what goes into medicines by looking at the electronic Medicines Compendium .
The slight problem is that, apart from the vastness of the dataset, many of the medicines and ingredients are listed under their scientific names. As such, unless you know your ambergris from your ascorbic acid , it can be difficult to ascertain which ingredients are in fact free of animal products or not.
Veggie And Vegan Cold And Flu Fighting Recipes
Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup// This vegan version of the classic chicken noodle soup is easy to make, full of flavor and comforting.
Turmeric Tonic // This turmeric tonic, from Green Kitchen Stories is a soothing and sweet drink based on an Indian Ayurvedic home remedy.
Beetroot Soup // Beetroot soup harnesses all the nourishment of beets in a creamy flavorful soup to help you recover from flu!
Pea Soup // This quick and easy pantry pea soup is full of nourishing peas. A super simple cold and flu fighting recipe.
Zucchini Soup // This is another quick simple vegetable soup. Zucchini soup is full of nourishing green veg so it makes a great vegan sick food.
Green Pasta // If you don’t have a sore throat, you may want to go for something a little heartier than soup. The vegetable sauce for this Green Pasta is full of antioxidant-rich avocado and green herbs. You could even make it an all-veg meal by swapping the pasta for zoodles made with spiralised zucchini / courgette.
Feel Better Soup // Well and Full shares the recipe for this Feel Better Soup.
It’s made with healing spices and delicious aromatics, such as turmeric, thyme and black pepper making it the perfect soup for when you’re feeling under the weather!
Vegan Lentil Soup // This vegan lentil soup is velvety smooth, creamy, nourishing and only has 7 ingredients!
Ready in less than 25 minutes, its a one-pot high-protein, filling and delicious soup recipe that’s great for warding off colds.
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Animal Ingredients In Medicines
Here are some of the most common animal-derived ingredients used in medicines. There is an extensive list of medicines and pharmaceuticals of animal origin produced by the Australian Department of Health, but here we will give a snapshot of the main non-vegan ingredients commonly found in medicines.
So Why Do Many Vegans Still Use Cough Medicine
The funny thing is that the active ingredients in cough medicine, usually acetaminophen and dextromethorphan, are both synthetic ingredients that really dont need to be tested on animals anymore.
All these other issues are theoretically avoidable, and hopefully will be one day.
Id like to go over a quote by the Vegan Society:
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
If youre coughing up a lung, I dont think many vegans would say its practical to avoid cough medicine .
In the worst case, in terms of animal suffering, most cough medicine is very low on that spectrum.
If you dont want to take cough medicine because of those above issues, I completely understand. In that case, your best option is to make your own.
This is the best vegan homemade cough medicine I have found. Obviously its not going to be as good as NyQuil or whatever, but can help ease your coughing.
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Berries & Vitamin C Rich Fruits
We all know that fruit is a good source of vitamins and minerals, however, certain fruits such as strawberries, cranberries and blueberries are rich in compounds known as anthocyanins, which have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties1. Fruits with high amounts of anthocyanins have been found to prevent common viruses and bacteria from attaching to cells2. Throw some berries into the blender and make a cooling smoothie to help soothe a sore throat or use them to top off an acai bowl to give it a fruity, immune boosting twist.
Vitamin C has also been shown to support immune function, so snacking on foods that are good sources of it, such as oranges, red and green peppers, broccoli and strawberries may be worth doing when youre feeling under the weather.3
Medicines & Treatments Tested On Animals
Legislation that regulates the use of animals for experimental or other scientific purposes in the UK is delivered in the form of the Animals Act 1986. The aim of the Act is to protect the rights of such animals and it defines a protected animals as, any living vertebrate other than man and any living cephalopod.
The Act states that there are certain procedures which are permitted to be applied to an animal if they fall under the definition of being for a qualifying purpose.
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