Can you beat the common cold?
So, can you beat the common cold? Well, maybe not, however, there is much we can do to prevent ourselves from getting one in the first place. If nevertheless we do catch one, then there are definitely ways to reduce its severity and shorten its duration.
‘PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE’
The best way to avoid getting a cold is to make it very difficult for germs to gain entry to the body. There are several ways we can do this.
1. WASHING YOUR HANDS OFTEN.
Most colds are caught through infected hands touching the nose or eyes. Studies have shown that drying your hands well is also an important step in removing germs. Germs can be carried on money, supermarket trolleys and doorknobs so it is hard to avoid them. Frequent hand washing, preferably is therefore an important step in avoiding catching a cold.
2. SUPPORTING THE IMMUNE SYSTEM.
This is a vital step in the prevention of colds. If you get more than one or two colds a year it could indicate that your immune system is not as strong as it should be. If your immune system is strong, symptoms either do not appear at all or will just be mild.
Both stress and poor diet undermine immune function. It is often a good idea to take a high quality MULTI VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENT, plus some extra VITAMIN C, especially if you think your immune system may not be as strong as you’d like. Years of intensive farming have stripped the soil of many nutrients, coupled with longer storage times and more consumption of fast foods, this means that our diet these days tends to be lower in nutrients than it once was.
A good PROBIOTIC (and not a sugary probiotic drink) can improve bowel flora, which is another important element of a strong immune system. The herbs ECHINACEA and ASTRAGALUS are useful too in exerting positive effects on the immune function, as is ELDERBERRY.
We can either aid or inhibit our immune systems in the things we eat, drink or do. A healthy balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables is crucial for immune support, as is avoiding sugar and alcohol as much as possible, as both these inhibit white blood cell activity. GARLIC is of particular note, as research has shown that those who regularly eat garlic, reduced their risk of catching cold by more than a half! This is likely to be due to its antiviral and antibacterial properties.
It goes without saying that smoking is not good for the immune system, depleting both zinc and vitamin C, which are two very important nutrients for the immune system.
3. COLLOIDAL SILVER.
This is my secret weapon against colds and I credit its use, in part, with the fact that I have not had a cold for nearly two years! Colloidal silver appears to be a powerful, natural antibiotic and preventative against infections. Acting as a catalyst, it reportedly disables the enzyme that bacteria, viruses and fungi need for their oxygen metabolism. However, there have been no clinical studies yet to prove its effectiveness and it should never be used excessively. I use Higher Nature’s Colloidal Silver Spray and spray to the back of the throat when I know I have been exposed to cold or flu germs.
Regular exercise supports general health and immune function. It stimulates lymph flow, which is essential for removing toxins from the body. Do remember though that excessive exercise can actually weaken the immune system and increase susceptibility to infection.
REDUCING SYMPTOMS AND SHORTENING THE DURATION OF A COLD
Once again we need to support the immune system if we want to minimise suffering.
We can do this in the following ways:
Once we have a cold it is crucial to get plenty of sleep otherwise recovery time is likely to take longer. Immune function is greatly improved by a good nights sleep.
2. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER.
Dehydration impairs the immune system. Water will help flush through the toxins.
3. INCREASE VITAMIN C INTAKE.
This has been shown to be effective at reducing the length of a cold. Vitamin C supplementation has been shown to have benefits taken up to bowel tolerance (I do not recommend taking more than 2000mg a day unless you are under the care of a Nutritional therapist). Foods such as kiwi, green pepper and potatoes in their skins are particularly rich in vitamin C.
4. INCREASE ZINC INTAKE.
Many people are deficient in this mineral, which helps to reduce severity and shorten the life of colds. Sources include pumpkin seeds, eggs, oysters and alfalfa sprouts. Zinc lozenges can be very good way of acquiring extra zinc whilst soothing a sore throat.
5. AVOID MUCOUS FORMING FOODS.
These include dairy food and wheat, which can promote mucous production.
6. AVOID SUGAR, CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL.
Sugar inhibits the ability of white blood cells to fight infection and decreases the activity of the immune function for up to 5 hours! Alcohol is mucous forming. Caffeine inhibits immune function, particularly when you are ill.
7. LIGHT FOOD ONLY.
Heavy meals and junk food will use the body’s vital energy for digestion. Your body would be better off using this energy to fight infection.
Chicken soup is a good choice – also known as Jewish penicillin! It really is nutritious and contains antibacterial properties. Add a little cayenne pepper and you could help reduce fever, aches and pains too.
8. ECHINACEA, ELDERFLOWER EXTRACT, ASTRAGALUS
All can be effectively used to reduce severity of symptoms and lessen the duration of a cold. (If you are self prescribing herbs, read labels carefully or consult a nutritional therapist or herbalist).
9. MANUKA HONEY
This comes from the New Zealand Tea tree bush and has antibacterial effects four times greater than antiseptic! Helps to clear congested sinuses and soothes sore throats. Don’t stir into drinks which are too hot though or its properties may be destroyed.
MY FAVOURITE COLD REMEDY
Grated ginger steeped in hot water for 5 minutes, then add juice of a whole lemon, some Cherry Active and a teaspoon of manuka honey. Lemons contain vitamin C and ginger gets the circulation going. Ginger can also help break a fever and remove mucous build up in the sinuses, throat and lungs. Have this soothing drink 2-3 times a day whilst you have a cold.
Peppermint tea can also be good when you have blocked sinuses and can help cool the body during a fever.
CONVENTIONAL COLD REMEDIES
Conventional cold remedies undermine the body’s natural healing processes and can mask symptoms making you feel better before you actually are. This causes you to overdo things when you really need to be resting. A cold can be the body’s way of telling you to slow down! Naturopaths believe it can actually be beneficial for the body to go through the whole process of having a cold, as it can help rid the body of toxins. A fever is the body’s natural reaction to infection and can actually shorten the duration of a cold and effectively burn up toxins, though obviously in the case of a very high temperature or prolonged fever, it is essential to contact your doctor.