The Common Cold
It’s that time of year again. Are you a shoe-in for at least one cold every cold season? Do you always get the worst cold symptoms? Cold symptoms like the runny nose or congestion, headache, cough, sore throat, and fatigue. This virus can knock some people down, keep them from working, or maybe even cause more serious problems. Let’s talk about the common cold and natural cold remedies to prevent and fight it.
Conventional Cold Treatments
Conventional common cold treatments are based mainly on symptom-relief and not boosting the body’s ability to fight off the virus. For instance, decongestant nasal sprays lessen the mucous in the nasal cavity, but doesn’t address why the mucous is there in the first place. When we have a runny nose, the body is using mucous to try to kick out the virus. If the ability to rid the body of a virus or bacteria is suppressed, it may take days longer to recover. That’s right, although some conventional medical or over-the counter treatments can ease cold symptoms temporarily, some of these can actually prolong the sickness. You should also think twice about taking antibiotics; as they can alter and disrupt your delicate gut microbiome for months, making it hard for your immune system to recover.
Over 200 different viruses have been known to cause what is known as the common cold. Viruses can present differently in different individuals, and can affect people differently. Length and severity of the cold and cold symptoms can be drastically different between two people, even when they have contracted the same virus.
So what can be done to lower your chance of getting a cold, and what can be done if you have a cold?
Here are some things in my health cabinet, just in case I happen to feel a cold coming on:
Linus Pauling can be considered one of the Godfathers of vitamin C research. He discovered that white blood cells need 50 times more vitamin C than the cells and tissues around them in order to function correctly. Your white blood cells are a part of your immune system and can break down harmful viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for vitamin C is laughably low, leaving people with little ammunition when fighting off a cold, other virus, or similar illness. Vitamin C is a strong piece of your cold remedy arsenal.
Vitamin C: take up to 4,000mg/day in smaller doses (be sure to consult your physician if surpassing)
The majority of people in America are not exposed to enough direct sunlight to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. Supplementing with vitamin D is an easy and effective way to raise levels in order to experience benefits. Scientists estimate that vitamin D prevents at least 17 different types of cancers. Having an adequate vitamin D level is essential for immune function: 5,000 IU per day is a typical dosage for most adults. When sick with a virus such as the common cold, that dosage can increase drastically as a cold remedy for a few days. Be aware though, vitamin D levels can be too high, so make sure to get your levels tested in your blood multiple times per year.
Over 300 studies have shown the power of Echinacea; including its ability to ward off the common cold. Echinacea is a powerful cold remedy because it has the ability to enhance white blood cell activity, your body’s natural defense. It can also slow down viruses by competing with blocking cell’s viral receptors.
One of my favorite (and secret) cold remedies is silver. Colloidal silver, or silver hydrosol, can be toxic to harmful pathogens while harmless to our own cells. Silver is so powerful, that it has been used in treating HIV, MRSA, and over 650 other pathogens (seems like the common cold wouldn’t hold a candle to silver in comparison, right?)! Silver is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory. Some warn of toxicity, but the very few instances were from cheap or off-market products. Silver hydrosol has been shown to be non-toxic and very potent.
Believe it or not, trillions of microbes control our body. The delicate balance of good and bad bacteria can boost or degrade our immune system. Adding in good bacteria through probiotics is a great way to decrease inflammation and boost the immune system. One study showed that those who took probiotics had shorter colds by 2 days and 34% reduction in common cold symptoms.
Zinc is one of, if not the most, important mineral in the body. Zinc has been shown to lessen the severity and duration of colds when taken; especially within 24 hours of symptoms.
Using a saline flush, (my favorite is the Neti Pot) can be extremely beneficial is keeping bad bacteria from accumulating in the sinus cavity and nose. Use saline flush with body temperature water (distilled*) once in the morning and once in the evening for best results.
Sleep is when the body heals and repairs. Listen to your body when you are sick and give it rest! You may need more sleep than usual, up to 9 or more hours per night. Make sure your bedroom is dark, with no lights or sounds, and a tad cooler. You can add a humidifier to keep your nose and mouth from drying out.
Natural sunlight is the most effective way of boosting vitamin D levels in the body. Even 15 minutes of sunlight daily can be enough to raise levels significantly. Be sure to have most of your skin bare to trigger the reaction to make vitamin D. Sunlight can also stimulate and balance the HPA axis (Hypothalamus/Pituitary/Adrenal), which has a hand in controlling blood sugar, immune response, and energy levels.
Your body’s need for fluids can increase when you are sick. For instance, when you have a fever, your body loses more water. Thus, the importance of proper and steady hydration. Make sure your urine is fairly light to ensure hydration, and add in Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt to get precious minerals like potassium and sodium. As I will address below, it’s best to avoid fruit juices and sugary drinks when sick.
Hot soups and broths can be healing when sick, along with warm herbal teas.
One simple hot tea recipe includes the juice of ½ lemon and ½ tsp of raw or Manuka honey. Sip for its anti-microbial and anti-viral properties.
For a super hydrating drink, mix ½ teaspoon of Himalayan Sea Salt, ½ lemon juiced, and ½ orange juiced into 12 ounces of spring or reverse osmosis water.
Blood sugar levels over 120 have been shown to decrease the white blood cells’ ability to engulf viruses and bacteria by 75%! For those who aren’t aware of blood sugar levels, 120 is not incredibly high, and almost everyone would reach this level by eating a meal. The fewer carbohydrates and sugar in a meal, the quicker the blood sugar returns to normal. Big no-no’s when sick are sodas, desserts, fruit juices, and even high glycemic foods like pizza and pasta.
Dairy can be mucogenic. Let’s put it this way, if your nose and sinuses are already full of junk, adding more junk is not the way to feel better. Avoiding cheese, milk, butter, and sour cream when sick can lessen symptoms.
Cut out alcohol
Alcohol can lower your body’s ability to fight off harmful substances, as well as takes up more energy to detoxify.
Add in foods
Add in foods like garlic, oregano, raw honey, and apple cider vinegar. Garlic has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Be sure to chop up the garlic and add to food or eat raw in order to get the powerful benefits. Apple Cider Vinegar can improve lymphatic drainage, help boost the immune system, and is also antimicrobial. Raw honey can be added to teas and is a natural cough suppressant and balances the immune system.
Antioxidants and detoxification help
Add in vegetable smoothies or juices to boost your detoxification pathways and arm your immune system with antioxidants. If you include fruits, make sure they are low-glycemic, meaning they won’t spike your blood sugar. You can stick to berries to be safe.
There you have it. It is important to introduce these powerful natural remedies within the first few hours of feeling symptoms. The quicker you start immune boosting, the better chance you may have of lessening the symptoms and beating the cold.
If you have more questions about how to arm your immune system, or specific questions related to your health, contact our office.