With cold and flu season upon us, we thought it would be a good time to pause and spend some time discussing different natural remedies to prevent and fight colds or the flu naturally.
A cold is an upper respiratory viral infection that is self-limiting. There are up to 200 viruses that cause the common cold, many are highly contagious which is why they spread so easily. Colds are typically a mild infection. In contrast the flu, although also a viral respiratory infection, can range in symptoms from mild to severe. Even the young and healthy can be greatly affected by it. Antibiotics are not effective for either the common cold or influenza. Overprescribing of antibiotics when not needed has contributed to bacteria growing resistance to various antibiotics. Antibiotics can be life saving in extreme circumstances which is why it is crucial to not take them when not needed. Both the common cold and the flu can settle into secondary bacterial infections such as: ear infections, sinus infections and pneumonia. It is also important to make sure and monitor yourself or family members for signs and symptoms which worsen such as spiking a fever. This can be indicative of a secondary bacterial infection.
Some simple ways to help prevent the cold and or the flu are to take buffered vitamin C, zinc, elderberry, vitamin D (if needed- to be sure you can have your blood level checked) and probiotics. They can all help boost your immune system. Getting good sleep, drinking plenty of fluids, cutting back on sugar, and eating nutrient dense foods are also helpful lifestyle changes..
Many people turn to over the counter medications when they get a cold or the flu. These products have been shown to only suppress symptoms but not decrease the length of the viral infection. There are many other supplements that can help your body fight the cold & decrease the duration of the infection. Continuing the ones above can also be helpful if you do get a cold or the flu. You can also try andographis and or astragalus to boost your immune system. Studies have shown echinacea to be helpful in shortening the length of a cold but should not be taken long term. Chinese skullcap works to shorten colds as well and should not be used in pregnant women or if you are on prescription medications. Please consult with your healthcare provider. Manuka honey from New Zealand has powerful antimicrobial properties. Gargling salt water can help calm down a sore throat and also help break up the mucous and clear bacteria from the back of your throat. In addition it has anti-inflammatory properties. Bone broth can help with recovery from stomach bugs and other colds and viruses as it has gut healing properties. Eating chaga & turkey tail mushrooms can also help your immune system. If you don’t care for mushrooms you can buy them in a powdered form and add to tea, smoothies, etc.
A homeopathic remedy that can be very helpful in decreasing the length of a cold is called cold calm. Initially you take 2 tabs every 15 minutes for an hour and then decrease the frequency per instructions on the box. Throat calm can be taken similarly and is helpful for decreasing sore throat symptoms. Oscillinium is very helpful in helping to treat influenza.
In conclusion there is so much you can do to both strengthen your immune system during cold and flu season and to shorten the duration of an illness once you get one. As always we are available for same day sick appointments if you aren’t feeling well!