Alternative Treatments for the Common Cold
Your throat begins to get sore. You start to feel chilled and then warm. Your nose gets congested. Your body aches and your energy begins to drain. Thoughts of going to bed and resting begin to take on an even greater attraction than usual. Diagnosis? You have probably developed “acute coryza,” otherwise known as the common cold.
The common cold is a virus infection of the upper respiratory tract. There are over 200 strains of viruses that can cause cold symptoms and they are constantly mutating. Statistically, the average adult gets 1-3 colds a year.
The best approach in dealing with a cold is to not get one. Prevention is the best medicine, and that means getting proper rest, eating a nutritious and balanced diet, drinking enough water, staying warm enough, exercising a few times a week, having enough fun, having enough deep, soulful time and generally making sure that your emotions are in motion (not getting stuck). If you get frequent colds, it is probably your body’s way of telling you that one or more of the above areas of your life are in need of some attention.
Once you actually have the symptoms of a cold, however, there are a myriad of alternative treatments that can help you get back to health.
Many alternative therapists believe that the symptoms of the common cold are the body’s way of fighting a cold virus and, therefore, should not be suppressed. The approach taken, then, is to assist your body in moving through the process as efficiently as possible.
Two supplements that have been shown to speed up the recovery from a cold are Vitamin C and Zinc. Numerous studies have shown that taking high dosages of Vitamin C (1-2,000 mg 3 times a day) helps to shorten the duration of the common cold. Zinc has also been shown to speed up the recovery of a cold, by blocking viruses from multiplying.
From a nutritional perspective, eating a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables and fiber is ideal. Reducing your dairy and sugar consumption is also quite important because these foods are very mucous producing. When you have a cold, eating dairy and sugar is like throwing gas on a fire that you are trying to put out. Hot lemon drinks reduce mucous production as does garlic, onion and horseradish. Garlic (especially raw) also has excellent anti bacterial and antiviral properties. Chopping up 2 cloves of raw garlic and mixing it with other food can be incredibly therapeutic when you are suffering from cold symptoms.
It is very important to drink plenty of water. Water is vital for every function of our bodies, and it is essential in helping to clean out our respiratory tract, and generally flush out the toxins and waste that can be more prevalent when we have a cold.
From a Western herbal perspective, there are dozens of herbs that can assist your system in recovering from the common cold. The most popular of these is echinacea, which can help to weaken cold viruses in addition to strengthening the body’s defenses to work better. Goldenseal is often combined with echinacea in herbal cold treatments. It’s also an immune-booster, and it can help to reduce mucous in the nose and throat. Another herb that is excellent for the treatment of colds is elderflower, which has a strong anti-mucous effect and can help lower fevers.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are quite beneficial in treating people with cold symptoms. Both acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy can help fortify a person’s immune system, thus supporting a quick recovery. An individual diagnosis is essential for determining the proper treatment. Two people, for instance, can have a cough and the treatment is distinctly different depending on their associated signs and symptoms. Having said that, the following are three herb formulas that can be used safely, for certain types of cold symptoms:
- Yin Chiao: For early stages of cold (first 48 hours) with sore throat and slight fever.
- Gan Mao Ling: For early stages of cold (first 48 hours) with chills and aversion to cold.
- Bi Yan Pian: For nasal congestion (for short term, symptomatic use).
If your cold symptoms persist beyond two weeks or get worse, it is important to consult your doctor as you might be dealing with a bacterial infection. Difficulty breathing, earache, persistent fever and enlarged lymph nodes are other signs that you should consult your doctor.