If you’re unfortunate enough to catch a cold or flu this season, here are some strategies to minimize symptoms and shorten their duration.
Note: Please consult with your physician before utilizing these natural remedies, especially if you have severe symptoms or have a special condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.
This article is adapted from the NEWSTART® Lifestyle Seminar. It first appeared in the January 2006 Inside Report.
Take a contrast shower.
At the first sign of a cold or flu, give yourself one of these. The sooner you do it, the more effective it is! This treatment increases the number of circulating white blood cells and can ward off a full-blown infection.
Turn the water as hot as you can tolerate (105 to 110° F).
After a few minutes, turn the cold water on. Start with a mild contrast. Jumping up and down and rubbing your skin while in the cold water will help. Leave the cold on for about 30 seconds. Never leave it on so long that you actually feel chilled. This will have an undesirable effect (if you feel chilled, turn the hot water back on until you feel warm; then try a shorter application of cold or milder temperature).
Repeat this contrast three times, ending with cold. Dry yourself briskly and go to bed for at least one hour. Repeat this treatment 1 to 2 times daily.
Note: If you have diabetes, heart disease, or other circulatory impairment, use only a very mild contrast.
Continuing your normal level of activity usually results in worsened symptoms and a longer illness. Particularly if you have a fever, go to bed so that your body can do the work of healing without interference.
Colds and influenza are caused by viruses. Antibiotics fight only bacterial infections such as strep throat. They can also upset the healthy bacterial balance of the digestive tract. Try an herbal preparation such as garlic, echinacea, or even Airborne Formula®. These can help the body fight infection without harmful side effects. (Use echinacea only when fighting an infection; otherwise it can lose its effectiveness.)
Take Vitamin C at the first sign of symptoms.
Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of a cold or flu (one gm in the morning, 500 mg in the afternoon).
Avoid sugars and fats and limit juices and fruit, especially dried fruit (citrus fruits are preferable). Eliminate dairy products, which aggravate mucus-related symptoms. Drink plenty of fluids. Water, soups, and broth are all suitable, up to three quarts a day.
Keep hands, feet, neck, and ears warmly clothed.
Blood flow to the nasal structures falls as the temperature of the extremities falls. Viruses prefer the resultant lower temperature and sluggish circulation of the nasal passages. This is why a chilled person has lowered resistance to upper respiratory infections.
Get fresh air, but avoid drafts.
Keep your room warm (68 to 72° F), but not hot. Do deep breathing exercises.
Get a little sun outdoors, but don’t allow yourself to get chilled.
Sunlight boosts the immune response and also raises beneficial hormones that will help you feel better.
Don’t be too eager to reduce a fever.
Fever is a defense mechanism the body uses to fight infection. If you feel chilled, you are in the heating stage of a fever. Take steps to warm yourself. When you feel hot and are sweating, you have moved into the cooling stage of the fever. This is often referred to as fever breaking.
For nasal congestion:
(1) Drink hot broth or hot tea, such as peppermint or ginger.
(2) Add plenty of garlic and onion to soups and eat while hot.
(3) Use saline nose drops: Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup warm water. Use with a clean eyedropper or nasal spray bottle.
(4) Use a water vaporizer with eucalyptus essence.
(5) Apply a hot sinus compress.
(6) Use “breathing strips” found in the First Aid section of drug stores.
For a sore throat:
(1) Gargle with salt water: 1/4 teaspoon salt to 1 cup warm water.
(2) Use zinc lozenges.
(3) Use a water vaporizer, especially at night.
(4) Apply a hot compress to the throat.
For a cough:
(1) Drink hot peppermint or ginger tea with a teaspoon of honey.
(2) Honey mixed with fresh lemon juice can also soothe a cough, but use sparingly.
(3) Use a water vaporizer with eucalyptus essence.
(4) Apply a hot chest pack.
Take an Acidophilus preparation.
This may help fight off viral and bacterial infections by ensuring an abundance of beneficial bacteria in the bowel.
Avoid dwelling on how bad you feel or how much you’re missing. Read light and uplifting material or listen to soothing music. According to research done at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the more positive your atti- tude, the less severe your symptoms may be.
If symptoms are severe, see a physician.
Severe symptoms include a fever above 104° F or one of 102° F that lasts more than a day, severe or persistent sore throat, ear pain, stiff neck, wet chest sounds, colored mucus or sputum, a cough that lingers more than a week after other symptoms have cleared, etc. These symptoms may indicate a more serious illness.
Avoid spreading the infection to others.
Stay home and use disposable tissue to cover coughs and sneezes and for blowing your nose. Don’t prepare food for others, sit or stand close to others, and wash your hands frequently.
When you start feeling better, don’t shift back into full gear.
This usually results in a relapse. Make a gradual transition to normal activity.