Common Cold and Flu: Natural Remedies That Will Work
In the United States up to 20% of the population is currently affected by the flu virus. Unfortunately, the highest rates of infection are amongst children. Hence, I’m very concerned about the large number of people who are infected with this flu virus in our local community. It is important to understand that if the immune system is weak due to undernourishment or lack of sleep a person is more vulnerable to infection. In my view, there is a little reason to be concerned about infection, if the immune system is strong and solutions to fighting infection are at hand.
Ayurveda like other ancient healing sciences provides many natural remedies that effectively fight infections as well as strengthen immunity. In general terms, treatments include herbal formulas, 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 viral 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 Vitamin C and high anti-oxidant foods as well as good sources of the oil soluble vitamins including E, A and D.
My Natural Guidelines
Oil soluble vitamins can be most easily consumed naturally by taking fish and cod liver oil daily with a main meal. As sunshine is the optimum source of vitamin D, 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.
Vitamin D is an amazingly effective antimicrobial agent, producing over 200 different antimicrobial peptides in your body that kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. So 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! So, you should take cod liver oil daily like grandma recommended and sailors have been doing it 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. (Personally, 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 zinc deficiency. Keep in mind that the most common forms of zinc are synthetic, therefore, chemically-altered. This is often the case wiht 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.
Personally, I recommend nutritional nutritional yeast as 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. This includes fructose from fruit juice and all types of grains (as they rapidly break down to sugar in your body). 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 (over 20 cloves), onions, olive oil, some cayenne, 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 particularly has long history of being a natural anti-biotic, 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 when you have a flu, cold or nasal congestion, since it might trigger mild allergy or 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 may be necessary.
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 water so that your urine is clear or pale yellow. Besides, taking supplements and herbal formulas, you’ll want to address nutrition, sleep, and stress issues as soon as you first feel yourself coming down with something. You can also start drinking 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 salt water. 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.
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. My backup, however, has always been colloidal silver which 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 on daily bases 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 taste good with peppermint oil added.
Turmeric is also natural antibiotic. ¼ teaspoon of fresh or high quality turmeric added to a teaspoon of honey or a cup of hot milk helps to relieve headache, colds and throat infections. Ginger, Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Mint leaves; Bishop’s Weed, holy basil will also allow your body to better 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 or nutritional yeast, fish oil and even some capsules of medicinal mushrooms while eating a healthy diet of whole foods.
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. Don’t forget to take a probiotic or eat some fermented foods daily to maintain healthy intestinal flora. This outlines the majority of my holistic approach.
Remember, the reason you catch a cold or flu is because your immune system is impaired so be proactive and do what it takes to stay healthy!