A cold is a contagious viral disease which infects the soft lining (mucous membrane) of the nose. There are more than 100 different viruses which can result in a cold. The characteristic symptom is a runny nose. Usually, it is a mild condition, recovery taking place within about a week. However, sometimes the same symptoms occur with other illnesses like influenza. A cold can be accompanied by a high temperature, aching head, throat and chest and lack of energy.
It is most common during the cold winter months, althoug cold weather itself does not cause the cold. it is more likely because extremes of temperature have a weakening effect on the immune system. Colds affect children and adults of all ages. It is generally expected that most people will catch a cold two to four times a year.
A person is contagious from the day before the illness breaks out until one to three days after they feel better. The infection is spread by airborne droplets when the sufferer coughs or sneezes.
It can also be spread by hand if someone has the virus on their hands and then puts them close to their eyes or nose. This is possibly the most common way of catching a cold. Wash hands to avoid hand-to-nose infection. Get adequate sleep and rest during an infection.
It seems that the strength of our immune system is the key factor in whether or not we get colds. Impaired immunity leaves you with less resistance to fight off infections whether they are viral, bacterial, yeast or fungal. It therefore makes sense to strengthen your immune system.
Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)
|Supplement/Herb||What it does||Dosage|
|Vitamin C||Reduces the duration and severity of cold symptoms, and may reduce the risk of catching a cold. vitamin C increases white blood cell function, interferon production and antibody activity. Vitamin C requirements are higher during infection.||500 – 1000mg every 2-3 hours during infection|
|Zinc||Zinc is an important immune nutrient that supports white blood cell function. The lozenge form of zinc reduces the duration and severity of common cold symptoms. When the lozenges are dissolved in the mouth, the zinc appears to possess a direct, local anti-viral activity.||15 – 50mg per day during infection|
|Echinacea||Enhances immune function by increasing the production of white blood cells and stimulating activation of white blood cells. It appears that echinacea is most effective taken at the onset of an infection. In long-term use many herbalists suggest that a 1-2 week break be taken every 8 weeks or so.||300 – 500mg three times per day during infection|
|Elderberry||Studies show that oral administration of elderberry extract reduces the duration of influenza symptoms from an average of 6 days down to 48 hours. Elderberry inhibits viral DNA replication, and thus this herb may also be useful in non-flu viruses.||100 – 500mg three times per day during infection|
|Olive leaf||Olive leaf has powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, making it especially valuable in colds and flu infection.||200 – 500mg three times per day during infection|
|Cat’s Claw||Enhance the activity of the immune system and inhibits inflammation.||150 – 300mg three times per day during infection|
The essential oils eucalyptus and pine can be use in vaporisers or inhalations on handkerchieves. Tea tree can be used to alleviate a sore throat, gargle with 3 drops of tea tree in a glass of hot water.
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
Reduce or avoid:
Sugar as it suppresses the immune system
Refined carbohydrates which contain simple sugars which suppress the immune system
Dairy foods which are mucous forming
Alcohol as it suppresses immune function
Increase your intake of:
Fruit (especially berries) for their vitamin content
Nuts and seeds
Whole grains to provide essential B vitamins
Garlic and onions which help kill the virus and break up congestion.
If you have a cold drink lots of water to replace fluids. Try hot water with a dessertspoon of honey and half a lemon 4 times a day.
For a bad cold, especially when accompanied by a fever, a 24 hour fast of raw fruit and fruit and vegetable juices will give the immune system a boost and give you vital nutrients without taxing the digestive system.
Homoeopathic Remedies which may help. (Refer to the individual remedy for guidance on the one that is most appropriate for you.)
- Aconite napellus
- Arsenicum album
- Ferrum phosphoricum
- Kali bichromicum
- Mercurius solubilis
- Natrum muriaticum
- Nux vomica
- Rhus toxicodendron
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