Natural Cold and Flu Care 11.06.05

How to effectively ease the pain and discomfort of colds and flu, naturally

P. Topham

Simple practices can prevent sickness and make you feel much better and heal more quickly when you are sick with colds and flus. There is no need to medicate yourself with Big Pharma.

The time to treat a cold is when you don't have one! This may sound silly, but prevention is always better than cure. However the same herbs that keep colds and flu at bay, will also help you get rid of them faster.

The common cold is caused by any one of 200 different viruses. When infection occurs, the walls of the respiratory tract swell and produce excess mucous, giving rise to the typical cold symptoms. Symptoms range from sore throat, running nose, nasal congestion, and watery eyes to hacking cough, headache, and fever. Most colds run their course in 7-10 days. Recurrent colds (almost constantly suffering) may indicate a lowered immune capacity, too much stress and often not enough sleep.

Colds spread from person to person and are highly contagious. Coughing, sneezing or hand-to-hand contact will easily pass the virus on. The virus can also live for several hours on everyday surfaces.

One particular herb has recently had a lot of press coverage and marketing as a "new" cure for colds. Echinacea has in fact been used by America Indians for hundreds of years. It is native to the North America Plains, but varieties of it are now found on most continents. Echinacea increases levels of properdin, a chemical which activates the part of the immune system responsible for increasing defense mechanisms against virus and bacteria attacks.

Its anti-bacterial effect makes it a good herb for treating many viral and bacterial infections. Echinacea is also an excellent blood cleanser. It helps to sweep dead cells and other debris through the channels of the lymphatic system and dispatches white blood cells to fight the infection. The best test to determine if you are taking a good, high strength echinacea is the tongue test:

After you have taken the tincture, the back of your tongue should feel numb or tingly. This feeling will soon pass, but you know you are using a good quality product.

So when you feel the cold coming on — reach for the echinacea tincture. It is important to try to take echinacea before the full onset of a cold or flu to give the best chance of a swift recovery.

No treatment of colds would be complete without Garlic. This pungent herb was highly esteemed by the ancient Egyptians, who ensured that the slaves building the Great Pyramids at Cheops were given a daily supply. The Romans also acknowledged garlic's strengthening powers and fed it to their soldiers before battle. Garlic has anti-bacterial properties that help the immune system to fight infection, it is an excellent boost to the immune system. The reason for this is garlic contains several helpful compounds, including allicin, one of the plant kingdom's most potent antibiotics. Garlic combines well with echinacea and together make a strong fighting force against infections.

Onion is a close relative of Garlic and has similar properties, containing similar antiviral chemicals. Use onions and leeks in your cooking when you have a cold or are around people who do.

Ginger is another of natures' antiviral herbs. It contains nearly a dozen antiviral compounds. Ginger is pain relieving, antiseptic and antioxidant. It is valuable for preventing and treating colds, sore throats and inflammation of mucous membranes. Ginger reduces pain and fever and has a mild sedative effect that will encourage rest. And it is tasty! (with no lingering odors!) Drink a tea, or soak fresh ginger in hot water, take as a tincture and include it in your food. Ginger is also delicious in a fruit smoothy (a mix of soft chilled fruits put in a blender).

Vitamin C is very good for the relief of cold symptoms and to help the body fight infection. The best source of vitamins is always fresh fruit and vegetables. Citrus fruit is especially high in vitamin C. Combine orange, pineapple, seedless grapes, lots of fresh ginger, banana, pink grapefruit, cantaloupe in a blender. Add orange juice if more liquid is needed. This not only makes a delicious drink, but is healthy and fights that cold.

When you have a cold or flu, your body is under a lot of stress, fighting the viral infection. Big, heavy meals take vital energy to digest, resources which your body could be using to fight the infections.

An old saying states "Feed a cold and starve a fever". A better saying is "Starve a cold and starve a fever".

The best thing to do is drink plenty of liquids - water, fruit juices and if needed soups, but stay away from heavy and high processed food. High liquid intake is important as the body uses water to carry waste products and toxins to your elimination systems.

Goldenseal is both antiseptic and immune stimulating, increasing blood supply to the spleen. The spleen is the body's staging area for the fighting cells in your immune system. Berberine is present in goldenseal, and activates macrophages (special white blood cells), which are responsible for destruction of bacteria, fungi, viruses and tumor cells.

Herbalists have been using licorice to soothe chest and throat complaints since the third century BC. It is used in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis, throat problems, colds and coughs. Liquorice contains anti-viral compounds that induce the release of interferon, the bodies own anti-viral constituents. It is an expectorant (promoting the secretion, liquefaction or expulsion of sputum—mass or salivary matter—ejected from the mouth) from the respiratory passages) and anti-inflammatory, making it excellent for stubborn coughs and lung infections. As well as being a soothing herb, licorice tastes nice! Large doses can act as a laxative.

Sage is a traditional remedy of long standing for soothing sore throats, as it has antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties. For an inflamed throat and hoarseness, use a hot sage infusion or gargle with a sage, apple cider vinegar and honey mix. In feverish conditions, sage is very cooling. Take as a tea or tincture.

Peppermint is a valuable expectorant in the treatment of bronchitis, colds and flu. It reduces fevers by inducing sweating and cooling the body. It is also a painkiller for headaches and some migraines. It is a soothing decongestant and makes an effective inhalation for clearing blocked sinuses..

Other herbs which will assist in combating and relieving colds are:

Lemon Balm: Lemon Balm tea promotes sweating. This is good for feverish colds as it helps to eliminate the toxins from the body.

Blackberry: Sometimes known as Bramble. The fruit is rich in vitamin C. The leaves can be used to make a cleansing tea, or make a poultice from fresh, lightly boiled leaves.

Borage: A versatile herb, borage promotes sweating and has expectorant properties, both of which are beneficial for feverish, chesty colds.

Catnip: Catnip or Catmint, promotes perspiration and a hot infusion is good for feverish colds and flus. Catnip is also a muscle relaxant and mild sedative so will help to induce sleep.

Cinnamon: Will stop vomiting and relieve feelings of nausea. Take as a tea. Cinnamon oil also had anti-bacterial properties.

Fenugreek: Has expectorant qualities. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and soothing. It can ease coughs and sore throats.

Juniper: Steam inhalations of Juniper is beneficial for relieving congestion in coughs and colds. Add a few drops of the oil to hot boiled water, place your face over the bowl, cover with a towel, and inhale the steam.

Lemon: Lemons are a rich source of vitamin C, and taken hot in a hot lemon and honey drink, is a traditional remedy for colds and sore throats.

Yarrow: Yarrow has anti-inflammatory properties, and a hot yarrow tea will promote sweating. Many herbalists consider yarrow to be one of the principle herbal remedies for fever, feverish colds and flu. It is often taken in combination with elderflower and peppermint. Or try adding a strong infusion of yarrow and camomile to a warm bath.

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