Colds are caused by any of more than two hundred viruses that infect the upper res- piratory tract. Colds are spread through the air, such as by sneezing or coughing, or by contact with a contaminated object. In response to an invasion by a cold virus, the membranes that line the nose and the throat become swollen and start producing addi- tional mucus. The result is congestion, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, and a general feeling of malaise—all of which are your body’s way of expelling the virus and get- ting you to slow down and rest. Although colds can come on at any time of the year, they are most common during late fall and winter. They especially target people whose immune systems are depressed, whether from overwork, preexisting disorders, or a lack of good nutrition and exercise.
The best treatment for a cold is to stimulate your body’s natural defenses as soon as the familiar symptoms ﬁrst appear. Once the virus ﬁrmly establishes itself in your system, you can use natural therapies that have direct antiviral activity, as well as stim- ulate your immune system to eradicate the virus. Most colds last three to ten days. Do not take over-the-counter medications. These cold symptoms are your immune sys- tem’s attempts to ﬂush out the virus, so medications that suppress them can actually prolong your cold or cause a recurrence.
Colds can be difﬁcult to distinguish from the ﬂu. For adults, the presence of body aches and a fever usually indicates the ﬂu, although a low-grade fever can sometimes exist alongside a cold. Children, on the other hand, may experience fevers as a nor- mal part of a cold. For more information about the ﬂu, see Flu. If your cold symp- toms persist, or if they are accompanied by yellow or green mucus, call your doctor. You may have allergies or a different infection, such as sinusitis.
For adults, more than two colds a year may be an indication of underlying toxic- ity in the body. Some researchers feel that the body uses the cold virus as a way of detoxifying itself through mucus elimination and reduced appetite. In many cases, this could certainly be true. Also, a weakened immune system due to poor lifestyle habits and nutritional deﬁciencies could be at the root of reoccurring colds.
• Runny nose
• Sore throat
• Swollen lymph glands
• Loss of appetite
• Mild fever (occasionally, fevers can be higher in children)
• Toxicity in the body
• A deﬁcient immune system due to lifestyle factors, nutritional deﬁ- ciencies, and high stress levels.
Eat lightly. Steamed vegetables, soups and broths, and herbal teas will let your body focus on healing, instead of on digestion. If you lose your appetite, don’t force your- self to eat.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of clean water and other ﬂuids (but see the note in the next section about sugar and juice) to cleanse away toxins and to keep the respiratory tract from drying out.
Increase your consumption of ginger, onions, and garlic. Try adding one or both to chicken soup or miso.
Hot water with lemon, honey, and cinnamon is a traditional cold remedy. Drink a cup every two hours to soothe your throat and chest, prevent mucus buildup, and encourage a cleansing sweat.
Food to Avoid
Sugar decreases the number of white blood cells that your body produces and depresses your immune system, so eliminate reﬁned sugars from your diet for the duration of your illness. Also be wary of fruit juices. Although they are a traditional treatment for colds, fruit juices—especially orange juice—usually contain far more sugar than they do vitamin C. If you want to drink juice, dilute it ﬁrst.
Avoid milk and other dairy products while you’re sick. They encourage the pro- duction of mucus and will only make you feel worse.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Common Cold
Super Prescription #1 Homeopathic Combination Cold Remedy
At the ﬁrst signs of a cold, take a dose of the Combination Cold Remedy four times daily for three days. Then if you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. If your symptoms do not improve within twenty-four hours, pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms under Homeopathy in this section.
Super Prescription #2 Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
Echinacea and goldenseal combinations are herbs that enhance immune function, and echinacea has antiviral properties. Note: If you do not have any mucus production, use only echinacea. Take 500 mg or 2 to 4 ml of tincture four times daily.
Super Prescription #3 Lomatium dissectum
Take 500 mg or 2 to 4 ml of the tincture four times daily. Lomatium has strong antiviral effects.
tudies on the effectiveness of echinacea for the common cold have been mixed.
It appears that the type of standardization and the potency of the product are impor- tant for achieving therapeutic effects. One randomized double-blind clinical study
Super Prescription #4 Vitamin C
Take 1,000 mg three to four times daily. Reduce the dosage if diarrhea occurs.Vitamin C supports immune system function through increased white blood cell activity.
Super Prescription #5 Zinc
Take 15 to 25 mg in zinc lozenge form (zinc gluconate or acetate) every two waking hours for four days. Zinc supports immune function and may have antiviral effects. Zinc nasal sprays may be even more effective. Take as directed on the container.
Super Prescription #6 Ginger (Zingiber ofﬁcinale)
Take 500 mg of the capsule or drink the fresh tea four times daily. Ginger helps with a sore throat and chills.
Super Prescription #7 Astragalus (Astragalus mem- branaceus)
Take 500 to 1,000 mg or 3.0 ml of a tincture two to three
looked at the effectiveness of Echinacea pur- purea for 120 patients with initial symptoms of acute, uncomplicated upper airway infec- tion (in other words, the common cold). Echinacea (20 drops every two hours for the ﬁrst day and thereafter three times daily) or a placebo was administered for up to ten
days, after which patients were questioned about the intensity of their illness, time to improvement, and time until cessation of treatment. The time taken to improve was signiﬁcantly shorter in the echinacea group, at four days, while people in the placebo group took an average of eight days to recover. No speciﬁc adverse events were reported.
times daily. Astragalus is an excellent treatment for preventing the common cold. Do not take astragalus if you have a fever.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) oil has powerful antiviral effects. Take 500 mg of the capsule form four times daily or as directed on the container.
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is useful for the common cold and the ﬂu. Adults can take 10 ml and children 5 ml three times daily.
Garlic (Allium sativum) combats infection and supports the immune system. Take
300 to 500 mg or the liquid form three times daily. It can also be used on a long-term basis for preventing colds.
Thymus extract (Thymus vulgaris) optimizes immune activity. Take 1 to 2 capsules twice daily or as directed on the container.
At the ﬁrst signs of a cold, take 2 pellets of a 30C potency four times daily for three days of the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. Then if you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. If your symptoms do not improve within twenty-four hours, pick another remedy.
Aconitum Napellus is for colds that come on suddenly after exposure to dry, cold weather. There is a scratchy throat and a thin discharge from the nose. You probably feel anxious, restless, and chilly, with a great thirst. This remedy is best taken within four hours of developing cold symptoms.
review of twenty-one placebo-controlled studies found that “in each of the twenty- one studies, vitamin C reduced the duration of episodes and the severity of the symp- toms of the common cold by an average of 23 percent.” A dosage of 1,000 to 8,000 mg was used in these studies.
Allium Cepa is helpful when a person has a clear, burning nasal discharge that irri- tates the nostrils and the upper lip. The eyes water and have a stinging pain. The nose runs more when indoors and stops when outdoors.
Arsenicum Album is for a cold with a profuse, clear, watery discharge from the nose that makes the upper lip red. The nose may be stuffed but still runs. The person feels chilly, is thirsty for sips of water, and feels anxious and restless.
Ferrum Phosphoricum helps when a person feels feverish but does not act sick. The throat may be sore, and the face is ﬂushed. It’s best used at the onset of a cold.
Gelsemium (Gelsemium sempervirens) is for a cold accompanied by chills and muscle ache. The person feels drowsy and fatigued and has droopy eyelids. There may be a headache at the back of the neck.
Mercurius Solubilis or Vivus is helpful when the person is sensitive to both hot and cold temperatures. The tongue has a thick coating, and the person has bad breath, has excessive saliva production, and drools on pillow. The throat is often raw and sore.
Natrum Muriaticum is for colds that begin with sneezing and produce a thin clear or white discharge. The person may have a headache that is worse in the sun or the light. The cold may be accompanied by cold sores around the mouth and chapped lips.
Nux Vomica (Strychnos nux vomica) is for a person who is very chilly and irrita- ble. Sneezing and coughing, along with a congested nose and sore throat, are common.
Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) is helpful when there is thick yellow or green nasal mucus. The person has a low thirst and feels warm. The person also feels congested and is better outdoors or with fresh air. There is a desire to be comforted.
See pages 668–675 for information about acupressure points and administering treatment.
• Large Intestine 4 is a general tonic for colds and a speciﬁc remedy for headaches and congestion.
• If you have a sore throat, a cough, or chest congestion, use Kidney 27.
• Bladder 2 and Large Intestine 20 work on sinus congestion and pain.
• For head pain and congestion, use Gallbladder 20 and Governing Vessel 16 and 24.5.
If you are very congested, try a percussive massage to break up mucus. Percussive motions are best used on people who are relatively strong and healthy. Otherwise, a simple back rub may ease some of the congestion.
Work all the toes, as well as the areas corresponding to the lungs, the adrenal glands, the lower spine, the pituitary glands, and the lymph system.
If you have a sore throat, also massage the neck area.
Hot baths, showers, and steams all help drain phlegm and detoxify the body. For extra beneﬁts, add any of the essential oils listed in this entry under Aromatherapy.
If you’re chilled, take frequent hot foot baths; otherwise, alternating hot and cold foot baths are excellent.
Any of the following oils can be added to baths or steam inhalations.
Lavender has immune-boosting properties and will also help you get to sleep. It’s especially soothing if you have a cough.
Eucalyptus and peppermint relieve congestion and stimulate circulation.
Tea tree and melissa oils ﬁght viruses and also work against any secondary bac- terial infections that may develop.
Stress lowers your resistance and makes you much more susceptible to colds. If you get colds frequently, read the chapter on stress reduction in Part Two of this book and incorporate at least one of the techniques discussed there into your daily routine.
Bach Flower Remedies
For chronic stress problems that lead to colds, to ﬁnd the remedy that best suits your personality and tendencies. Once you’ve chosen a rem- edy, place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
Rescue Remedy is for physical crises, as well as emotional ones. It will bolster your defenses when you feel a cold coming on or when you’re under a great deal of stress and surrounded by sick people in the ofﬁce or at home.
Some people make little effort to get better when they have a cold; they even seem to welcome the illness. If you fall into this category, take Clematis to increase your resolve.
• Get plenty of sleep and rest.
• Unless you have a fever, take a brisk walk to keep mucus from settling into
your body and to chase away the blues. Don’t engage in any vigorous exercise,
• Keep a humidiﬁer in your room. The moist air will thin secretions.
• If you have a sore throat, gargle with salt water.
• Colds can circulate through an entire family—and even come back to you.
Break the cycle by keeping your hands clean and ﬂushing tissues after you use them. Encourage your family members to eat well, to get rest, and to wash their hands often during your illness.