So, what’s a person to do?
If you get a cold, give your body the rest and support it needs and the infection will generally resolve within ten days. We all know there are myriad products that promise to reduce symptoms, from decongestants, cough suppressants, and pain relieving medicines. But we also know that relief is temporary and often comes with side effects. We suggest following a natural path to preventing and treating those pesky colds. You’ll be happy you did.
The Natural Medicine Approach
Start with an evaluation of your vitality, looking at factors that sustain a strong immune system. In doing this, your holnaturopathic doctor will assess: diet and food allergies; nutrient deficiencies; hygiene and hand-washing habits; and physical activity. Lifestyle and environmental factors will also be considered, including personal relationships, ongoing stress, and exposure to allergens, mold, and toxins. Your doctor may also test breathing function, which can play a role in susceptibility to URI.
When you do come down with a cold, natural approaches can support the healing process:
Rest and Replenish: Rest as much as possible as the body needs its resources for healing. Drink plenty of water or diluted vegetable/whole fruit juice, and herbal tea. Eat fresh fruit, vegetables, broth-based soups and protein. Avoid processed sugars, which can depress immunity.
Essential Oils: Use oils in a chest rub or aromatherapy diffuser to reduce the intensity of coughs and congestions. Try peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, clove and tea tree. Ask your ND for guidance, as some oils are not recommended for children; others should not be combined, and concentrated oils need to be diluted properly before use. I also carry an Herbal Sinus formula that can be applied to the nose to help prevent/treat sinus infections.
Massage: Helps reduce pain and inflammation and promotes relaxation, which is vital to the body’s healing process. As long as you’re not coughing and sneezing, visit a massage therapist for lymphatic drainage or Swedish massage. Self-massage techniques can help drain the ear-nose-throat canal (see the therapy article in this newsletter).
Supplements: Research indicates vitamin C reduces the severity and duration of colds. Similarly, properly prescribed Zinc supplements can reduce the frequency and intensity of colds; there is little evidence for the effectiveness of over-the-counter zinc lozenges. For symptom relief, try botanical medicines, such as ginger, elderberry, and Echinacea. My favorite cold-fighting natural medicines in the office are Wellness Formula, Phytogen and Thymuril. I also have several different formulas for kids — be sure to ask about them at your next appointment. Also if you or a family member are getting hit with every cold, call the office to make an appointment so that we can create a first aid kit of natural medicines to take at the very first sign of an infection.
Humidify: If you live in an especially dry, warm climate, consider using a humidifier in your home. There is mixed evidence about how much humidification can help treat URI, but at the least, it may make breathing more comfortable.