So, what's a person to do?
If you get a cold, give your body the rest and support it needs and the infection will generally resolve within ten days. We all know there are myriad products that promise to reduce symptoms, from decongestants, cough suppressants, and pain relieving medicines. But we also know that relief is temporary and often comes with side effects. We suggest following a natural path to preventing and treating those pesky colds. You'll be happy you did.
The Natural Medicine Approach
Start with an evaluation of your vitality, looking at factors that sustain a strong immune system. In doing this, your holistic physician will assess: diet and food allergies; nutrient deficiencies; hygiene and hand-washing habits; and physical activity. Lifestyle and environmental factors will also be considered, including personal relationships, ongoing stress, and exposure to allergens, mold, and toxins.
When you do come down with a cold, natural approaches can support the healing process:
Rest and Replenish: Rest as much as possible as the body needs its resources for healing. Drink plenty of water, and herbal tea. Eat fresh fruit, vegetables, broth-based soups and protein. Avoid processed sugars, which can depress immunity.
Essential Oils: Use oils in a chest rub or aromatherapy diffuser to reduce the intensity of coughs and congestions. Try peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, clove and tea tree. Ask your physician for guidance, as some oils are not recommended for children; others should not be combined, and concentrated oils need to be diluted properly before use.
Massage: Helps reduce pain and inflammation and promotes relaxation, which is vital to the body's healing process. As long as you're not coughing and sneezing, visit a massage therapist for lymphatic drainage or Swedish massage.
Supplements: Research indicates vitamin C reduces the severity and duration of colds, but not the incidence. Similarly, properly prescribed Zinc supplements can reduce the frequency and intensity of colds; there is little evidence for the effectiveness of over-the-counter zinc lozenges. For symptom relief, try botanical medicines, such as ginger, elderberry, and Echinacea.
Humidify: If you live in an especially dry, warm climate, consider using a humidifier in your home. There is mixed evidence about how much humidification can help treat URI, but at the least, it may make breathing more comfortable.
Natural medicine offers a multitude of ways to personalize care, especially to support the prevention and treatment of URI. Speak with your holistic practitioner about what approaches are best for you.
Pizzorno, J., Murray, M., The Textbook of Natural Medicine (2013). Churchill Livingstone: St Louis, MO. Ch. 39, Homeopathy; Ch. 47, Soft Tissue Manipulation; Ch. 153, Bronchitis and Pneumonia; Ch. 195 Otitis Media.
Roxas M, Jurenka J (2007) Colds and Influenza: A review of Diagnosis and Conventional, Botanical, and Nutritional Considerations Alt Med Rev 12(1):25-48. Accessed 11 Jan 2017: http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/12/1/25.pdf
NDHealthFacts.org "Upper Respiratory Infections." Accessed Jan 11 2017: http://www.ndhealthfacts.org/wiki/Upper_Respiratory_Infection_(Common_Cold)
Ullman, Dana. Evidenced Based Homeopathic Medicine (2016). Homeopathic Educational Services: Berkley, CA. Accessed 11 Jan 2017: https://www.homeopathic.com/Documents/EbookSAMPLEHomFamilyMedicine.pdf
Ulbricht, C., "The common cold: An integrative approach. A natural standard monograph." Altern Complement Ther (2010), 16:6, 351-8 Accessed 13 Jan 2017: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/act.2010.16602
Hershoff, Asa Homeopathic Remedies, A Quick and Easy Guide to Common Disorders and their Homeopathic Treatments (2000) p 58; 256; 264; . Avery Publishing Group: New York
Marom, Tal et al. "Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatment Options for Otitis Media: A Systematic Review." In Wen-Hung Wang (ed), Medicine 95.6 (2016): e2695. Accessed: 9 Jan. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4753897/
University of Maryland Complementary and Alternative Medicine Database, Online. The following Accessed Jan 2017: Sinusitis: http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/sinusitis, Common Cold: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/common-cold
Healthline.com "What is an Acute Upper Respiratory Infection?" Accessed 11 Jan 2017: http://www.healthline.com/health/acute-upper-respiratory-infection#Overview1
Photo Credit: michaelheim//bigstockphoto.com