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combat the common cold

Blowing nose

As we head into fall, here are some tips to combat the common cold.

Colds are caused by more than 200 viruses that infect the upper respiratory tract.  They are spread through the air by sneezing or coughing, and are also spread by contact with a contaminated object.

In response to an invasion by a cold virus the membranes that line the nose and throat become swollen and start producing additional mucous.  The result is congestion, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, and a general feeling of malaise.

The best way to treat a cold is to stimulate your body’s defenses as soon as symptoms appear.

Here are some tips on how to boost your immunity once this happens:

Recommended Food:

  • Eat lightly.  Steamed vegetables, broths, soups, and herbal teas will allow your body to focus on healing, instead of digestion.
  • Stay hydrated.  Drink plenty of filtered water to flush away toxins and to keep your respiratory tract moisturized.
  • Increase your consumption of garlic, ginger, and onions.  Try adding these foods to a healing broth
  • Hot water with lemon, cinnamon, and honey can help soothe your throat and chest, encourage a cleansing sweat, and prevent mucous build-up

Food to avoid:

  • Sugar.  Sugar decreases the number of white blood cells that your body produces and depresses your immune system.  Remove refined sugars from your diet for the entire duration of your illness
  • Avoid milk and dairy products while you are ill.

Cold combating vitamins and herbs:

  • Vitamin C:  supports immune system function through increasing white cell activity
  • Echinacea: enhances immune function and has antiviral properties
  • Zinc:  supports immune function and has antiviral effects.  Has been shown to decrease the duration of a common cold by more than 1 day
  • Ginger: helps soothe a sore throat and chills
  • Elderberry: supports immune function as it is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory in nature.  Also has antiviral properties.
  • Hot showers, baths, and steams help drain phlegm and ease congestion
  • For extra benefit, add lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, or tea tree oils to your hydrotherapy of choice
  • If you have chills, frequent, hot foot baths can bring relief
Other recommendations:
  • get plenty of sleep and rest
  • use a humidifier in your bedroom
  • practice good hand-washing because colds can circulate through an entire family