The cold and flu season hits us every year, and every year the media plays on our fears and leaves us feeling helpless to keep ourselves healthy. This year the media circus has been quite intense and, unfortunately, the public is in a frenzy of panic, lining up to get flu shots and tamiflu. While I could go on and on about the dangers of these protocols, what I really want to do is empower people to be in charge of their own health and wellness.
We are far from helpless when it comes to preventing and treating winter colds and flus. Natural remedies abound for the prevention and treatment of these types of illnesses. I'd like to illustrate just a few of the ways we can accomplish the goal of staying well during the winter season using natural modalities.
First, it can be useful to distinguish between the symptoms of colds and flus. Here are a few things that can help us tell the difference between the two.
- Colds –
- duration – usually 1 week
- less fever,
- less aching
- more energy
- sniffling, stuffy nose
- mild coughing
- a general feeling of tiredness
- caused by short-lived viral infections
- Flus –
- Duration – usually 2 weeks
- sudden onset
- General feeling of ‘unwellness’
- fever: 99°F – 102°F
- harsh coughing
- extreme fatigue
- also caused by virus
Now that we have a better idea of the differences between colds and flus, you might be wondering how natural remedies can help? Why should we choose them over more conventional treatments?
Why Natural Remedies?
- Supporting the body – Natural remedies support the body's innate immune functions, instead of suppressing them. Rather than suppressing symptoms, natural remedies assist the body in working through them more quickly and efficiently.
- Going with nature instead of against – We are self-healing organisms and natural remedies help the body to fight disease in the way the body knows how to instinctively. Conventional medicine often blocks the body's natural healing abilities. An example of this is using an over the counter fever reducer. The body produces a fever to help fight infection. Reducing the fever by artificial means makes it much harder for the body to do its job.
- Gentle, safe and effective – Compared to conventional medicine, natural remedies have an outstanding track record for having fewer side effects, being exceptionally gentle on the body, but also extremely efficacious.
Let's look at some natural remedies that have proven effective. Herbal medicine has been used for centuries (or in many cases thousands of years) to efficiently prevent and treat colds and flus. Here are a few examples.
- Gut/Detox – “Start with the gut” is a motto that many natural practitioners stand by. If the GI tract is not able to digest properly, then nothing you put into it will be as effective as it should be. Here are some herbs that are specific for healing the gut.
- Aloe – soothing and healing to the lining of the GI tract
- Ginger – carminative, good for nausea, diffusive, warming, anti-inflammatory
- Dandelion/burdock/yellow dock – alteratives, liver & gallbladder support and detoxification
- Calendula – antiseptic, healing to mucus membranes of the GI tract, astringent
- Plantain – emollient & astringent, healing to GI tract
- Immune – These herbs support the immune system and its function in a variety of ways.
- Symptomatic – The following herbs help the body deal with various symptoms that are often experienced during cold and flu infections.
- First indications – Echinacea, Fire Cider, Cayenne
- Fevers – elderflower, yarrow, peppermint, ginger
- Anti-microbial – garlic, lemon balm, self heal, usnea, cottonwood buds, bee balm , Oregon Grape root
- Sore Throat/cough – licorice, marshmallow, mullein, horehound, sage, elecampane, calendula, peppermint, thyme
- Nourishing Infusions – This category of herbs can be considered as intensely nourishing foods for your body. They are high in mineral and vitamin content and can be taken by the quart daily for prevention of disease and well as recuperation: stinging nettle, oatstraw, evening primrose, red raspberry, red clover, violet leaf, alfalfa and linden.
Another category of natural remedies that can be used very successfully to treat colds and flus is homeopathy. Following are just a few of the most effective remedies to consider.
- Onset of illness– These remedies can be used at the first sign of symptoms and can often nip an illness in the bud: oscillococcinum, influenzinum, Arsenicum, Aconite
- Symptomatic – The following remedies help the body deal with various symptoms that are often experienced during cold and flu infections.
- Fever (low) – Ferrum Phos,
- Fever (high) – Baptisia, Bryonia, Belladonna
- Chills – Arsenicum, Eupatorium, Nux Vomica, Gelsemium
- Aches/Pains – Baptisia, Bryonia, Eupatorium, Nux Vomica, Gelsemium
- Cough – Bryonia, Aconite, Belladonna, Drosera, Spongia, Coccus Cacti, Antimonium tartaricum , Ipecac
- Headache – Eupatorium, Gelsemium
- Recuperation – China, Gelsemium, Inlfuenzinum
- Constitutional – Having a professional Homeopath find your constitutional remedy is very useful in that it can be used whenever the body is experiencing symptoms to bring it back into balance and activate its innate healing capabilities.
Although there are many other remedies and natural modalities that can be helpful, these are some of the most effective, available and commonly used. Which ones have you used? Were they effective for you? Which is your favorite?