Preventing and Recovering from the Common Cold and Flu
During the winter months, up to 40% of the population is affected by the flu virus. Unfortunately, the highest rates of infection are amongst children and the elderly. So it is important to understand that if the immune system is compromised due to undernourishment, recent antibiotic use, congestion, or even the lack of sleep, a person is vulnerable to infection. In my view, there is little reason to be concerned about infection, if the immune system is strong and natural solutions to fighting infection are at hand.
Ayurveda, along with other branches of ancient healing sciences, provides many natural remedies that effectively fight infections as well as strengthen immunity. In general terms, such treatments include herbal formulas, teas, supplements, dietary changes, and lifestyle measures like resting more. This article is meant to provide you with the knowledge to naturally prevent and combat this type of seasonal cold, flu respiratory infection.
Don't wait to start taking your supplements
The first signs of infection are often just an itchy or slightly sore throat. Within hours of noticing early symptoms of viral infection, the immune system has to be strengthened by giving it the nutrients it needs to work such as warm lemon juice with honey and consume more antimicrobial foods like onions and garlic as well as good sources of oil-soluble vitamins including cod liver oil, fish oil, and wheat germ oil.
My natural guidelines
Oil-soluble vitamins can be most easily consumed naturally by taking cod liver oil daily with the main meal. As sunshine is a source of immune health (as in Vitamin D) so when there is less sunlight our immune system is weakened, consequently we are more easily infected by viruses. Thus, people with the lowest vitamin D levels have significantly more colds or cases of the flu.
Regular supplementation of fish and cod liver oil will not only fight a cold or flu virus, but it can also prevent them from invading the body. To some degree, a cold and flu is a symptom of vitamin D deficiency or basically the lack of sunlight. Take cod liver oil daily like grandma recommended and sailors have been doing for centuries. With high-quality cod liver oil being high in vitamin D, E, and A it goes a long way to effectively and economically improve your overall health and boost your immune system. (I do not recommend synthetic and isolated forms of vitamins including D3, as no one knows the long-term side effects at this time).
As far as supplementation goes, Zinc would have to be the next most important supplement that you want to be taking to avoid infection. I have discovered that about 10% of people in general and 90% of those who are ill with an infection have a zinc deficiency. Keep in mind that the most common forms of zinc are synthetic, therefore, chemically-altered. This is often the case with most zinc lozenges, vitamins, and syrups sold even in health food stores. Zinc, however, from food or a whole-food supplement has supporting nutritional co-factors and is easily absorbed without adverse side effects. Ask your health food store for a wholefood Zinc supplement.
Nutritional yeast is an excellent natural source of zinc because it is easily absorbable and very nutritious. Nutritional yeast is fortified with B vitamins, iron and magnesium, and is very inexpensive. I often advise taking 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast 1 or 2 times daily with a glass of coconut milk to naturally boost zinc and B vitamin levels.
Regarding your diet, the first thing you want to do when you feel yourself coming down with a cold or flu is to avoid ALL sugars and processed foods. Sugar is particularly damaging to your immune system which needs to be supported, not suppressed, in order to combat an infection. Basically, once you know you have an infection you want to reduce your diet to liquids until you recover and your appetite returns.
Change your diet immediately
The most powerful natural remedy which everyone should start having at the first signs of infection is a homemade soup with lots of garlic, onions, olive oil, ginger, thyme, oregano, and lemon peels. If taken a few times a day, this combination will destroy almost any virus including colds, flu, and even norovirus. Garlic in particular has a long history of being a natural antibiotic, especially against infectious diseases like cold and flu. Large doses of raw garlic or even garlic tea can effectively fight off almost any infection including urinary tract infections and tooth infections in a matter of days.
Additionally, you should not consume dairy with the exception of ghee or butter when you have the flu, cold or nasal congestion, since dairy will create more congestion. Medicinal mushrooms, especially Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake also are very powerful immune boosters. For respiratory infections, breathing in the smoke of sage and/or using eucalyptus oil in a humidifier is very effective.
Keep in mind, that if you are not getting enough restorative sleep, you'll be at increased risk for a hostile viral takeover. Your immune system is also the most effective when you're not sleep-deprived, so the more rested you are the quicker you'll recover.
It is essential for you to drink enough liquids so that your urine is clear or pale yellow. Besides, taking supplements and herbal formulas, you'll want to address nutrition, sleep, and stress as soon as you first feel yourself coming down with something. You can also start drinking warm water with half a lemon squeezed in it a few times a day to boost vitamin C levels to get you through the flu season without being infected.
My favorite home remedies
It is highly recommended at the first sign of a sore throat that you start gargling with salt water (and some tea tree oil) and clean out the inner nostrils with saltwater. I would also take raw honey by the teaspoon especially if you have a dry cough. If you have nothing else, just using salt and honey will go a long way to soothe your throat, kill germs, and prevent the condition from getting worse. My favorite quick immune boosting home-remedy is ginger tea, with lots of honey and the juice of half a lemon three times a day with no solid foods. (By the way, never make a child eat when he is ill and does not feel hungry even children can safely fast to strengthen their immune system.)
A Western tea blend made from a combination of elderflower, yarrow, echinacea, goldenseal, peppermint, and ginger is very effective. Remember, to drink your tea hot and continuously throughout the day to combating a cold or flu.
Note that oregano oil is also very effective at killing infection particularly in the intestinal tract, but generally has to be taking in capsules with food due to its strength. I keep oregano oil capsules in stock but only use them if my initial infection fighting efforts are not successful. Colloidal silver can be taken 2 or 3 times a day as a sure way to kill an infection that is lingering.
Personally, I use olive leaf oil daily during the flu season as ancient Egyptians and Mediterranean cultures used it for a variety of health-promoting uses and it is widely known as a natural, non-toxic immune system builder that tastes good.
One teaspoon of fresh or high-quality turmeric added to a teaspoon of honey or a cup of hot [raw] milk helps to relieve headaches, colds, and throat infections. Cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, bishop's weed, and holy basil/tulsi can also be used to fight the common cold.
Be prepared to fight infection
I recommend that you purchase some of these items in advance and not wait until you have a cold. If you want to be preventive, then continue a daily routine of taking cod liver oil, zinc supplements, and even some capsules of medicinal mushrooms while eating a healthy diet of whole foods with some extra garlic.
When you notice the first signs of infection, stop eating all solid foods, start taking regular doses of olive leaf oil, and drink therapeutic herbal teas. If the infection does not go away consume large amounts of garlic and take the oregano oil. If 5 to 7 days have passed and the infection is still winning the battle take colloidal silver five times a day. Don't forget to take a probiotic or eat some fermented foods daily to maintain healthy intestinal flora.
Remember, the reason you catch a cold or flu is that your immune system is impaired so be proactive and do what it takes to stay healthy!
"Health comes from the farm, not the pharmacy", Grandma.
Boost your immune system to avoid the flu and common cold
Fight infection naturally with herbal teas and syrups
Once you have an infection, antimicrobial herbal treatments work extremely well if provided in the early stages. The type of treatment provided depends on the individual (constitution/body type) and the location of the infection; such as respiratory, sinus, stomach, or intestinal as in the case of candida. If you have a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection, I can help you in one appointment.
In each consultation, I will recommend or provide the following:
- Dietary guidelines per individual.
- Whole food supplements to support a healthy immune system.
- Herb teas and formulas as needed.
- Home remedies.
Khabir Southwick, ©2013 - 2018