- What Is Known About Head Colds
- Healthy Start: Head Colds—First Steps
- Healthy Steps: Head Colds—Full Program
- Preventing Head Colds
- From Dr. Deborah's Desk
“Oh, it’s just a cold” makes it sound so minor, yet a stuffed nose leads to a congested heavy head and often to sleepless nights as well. Knowing that the symptoms aren’t serious doesn’t prevent them from ruining a perfectly good day.
Fall and winter are especially challenging times for colds because that’s when viruses and other microbes tend to become airborne. Head colds are easily transmitted from person to person, so don’t try to be a trooper and show up at the office even though you’re sick. Here’s how to stay healthy during cold season and how to remedy a cold, if you get one.
Head colds - and indeed most acute winter illnesses - are caused by viruses. Conventional medicine offers no prevention and little real treatment. No matter how bad the cold feels, antibiotics are completely useless for viral illness, and unnecessary antibiotics can do serious harm to your overall health. Recent discussions have focused on whether the injury lasts for months or years.
When you get sick with a head cold, your main interest is in relieving your symptoms as quickly as possible, ideally with as few side effects as possible.
A sensible approach focuses on providing you with several natural methods of interfering with virus production. You can arrest viruses by using homeopathic remedies, foods, vitamin and mineral supplements, and herbs. More importantly, you have the power to greatly reduce the frequency of catching colds and to reduce a head cold's symptoms and duration by following the simple recommendations below.
For the greatest improvement with the fewest steps,do the following:
- Thorne Research OPC's, taken as a double dose twice daily.
- Zinc lozenges, such as Zand's Herbal Formula Zinc, taken frequently (break in smaller pieces or taken whole) to provide sustained zinc exposure to mouth and throat. Nausea is a sign that you have had enough!
- Focus on healthy clear liquids, limiting solid foods and avoiding sweets for 48 hours.
A comprehensive Head Cold program involves many areas where action steps can be taken, gradually or all at once. Start by following the basic nutrition and healthy lifestyle guidelines, with the following modifications:
Savor Helpful Foods
- Liquids for 48 hours (adults only): Consuming only liquids for 48 hours gives your digestive system a chance to rest and recover, directing all its extra energy reserves toward healing a head cold.
- Homemade chicken rice soup and cream of vegetable soup. Adding garlic, onion and ginger for spice and herbs of watercress and parsley can enhance the viral fighting properties of your soup.
- Coconut oil: 2 tablespoons in water or added to soup is an excellent energy source.
- Beet kvass: One glass daily is helpful.
- Cooked veggies with lots of butter: Vegetables are cell builders. As a saturated fat, butter is used in the body to strengthen cell walls, which can keep bacteria and viruses out.
- Raw garlic: Only one clove daily, crushed in your mouth, can be effective. Use fresh garlic only. Stuff the garlic in an olive for palatability.
- Herbs and herb teas: Ginger stimulates circulation in the body, and if you add a dab of cream, you'll get some natural immune factors that can help you recover quickly from head colds. A small amount of honey will be soothing.
- Spices: Mix cinnamon, cloves, turmeric, and curcumin into foods.
- Coconut water: If you're dehydrated and thirsty, drink some coconut water, but do leave out the sugar.
Avoid Problematic Foods
- Limit or avoid meat and eggs for 48 hours: Protein sources can be a drain on the body's resources when you are trying to overcome a cold. Giving your digestive system a rest is thought to speed recovery.
- All types of sweets and fruit juices: Sugar causes an immune system reaction in the body, slowing down white blood cells almost immediately. It also causes inflammation in the body.
- Dairy products are a “maybe:” For some people, dairy products add to congestion; this is a question to be answered individually.
- Wheat and grain products: Wheat, rye, barley and oats are common food allergens. If you are sensitive to them, they can produce inflammation in the body, which will interfere with your healing from a head cold.
- Stimulants such as coffee and tea, or stimulant drugs: When you have a cold, your white blood cells release chemicals that slow you down and force you to rest. Using stimulants defeats the body's natural responses.
Supplements That Can Help You Fight Colds
- Pure Encapsulations Vitamin D3. Studies have found vitamin D3 to be a strong ally against colds and the flu. Take double or triple your normal dose when you are getting sick (or take 10,000 i.u. daily for three days).
- Thorne Research OPC's, taken as a double dose twice daily.
- Zinc lozenges taken frequently (break in smaller pieces or taken whole) to provide sustained zinc exposure to mouth and throat. Nausea is a sign that you have had enough!
Avoid Colds With Lifestyle Changes
Head colds are a nuisance, but for a healthy person, a cold is a short-lived problem. Allow yourself to rest, give your immune system a chance to work for you, and you'll be back to your full activities in no time.
- Avoid cold meds: All over-the-counter cold and flu medicines have been proven non-beneficial and possibly harmful, especially to children.
- Stay local: Airplane flights can be an incubation laboratory because germs live and breed in the re-circulated air on the plane.
- Don't wait until you begin experiencing all of the head cold symptoms before taking action. A cold may be on its way if any of the following symptoms appear: stuffy nose, sneezing episodes, nasal discharge, sore throat with hoarseness or cough, fever, headache, watery eyes, or body aches and pains. Implement our quick start advice to chase cold symptoms away.
In general, head colds are annoying but so generic and transient, it is not indicated to use homeopathic treatment.
What's the best way to defend against head colds?
The common wisdom advising against rubbing noses is a good reminder of where viruses like to live (the nose), so even touching your own nose can give you a cold if your hand is hosting a virus. Good hand washing is also sound advice for cold prevention, although adequate washing (chant the alphabet) with regular soap is preferable to anti-bacterial soaps which are overly harsh and eradicate helpful as well as harmful bacteria.
Boost your immune system function, so that visiting cold germs either stay away completely or feel unwelcome and make only brief appearances in your life. Start by following our Nutritional Guidelines (Ideal Diet in Nutrition Section) for proper nourishment of your whole body. Through the winter take fermented cod liver oil on a regular basis, and supplement with Vitamin D3 if necessary to keep your Vitamin D levels normal. Looking for sun in the wintertime is a worthy activity!
The practice of medicine has both large and small triumphs. The small triumph that has perhaps been most significant has been the change I've seen in the frequency of minor acute illness in my patients who have adopted a few of the supplement choices listed above. I remember a young girl I'll call Tessa who came for an alternative approach when she had worn out her welcome at the school nurse's office as well as her regular doctor's office. Sore throats, colds, and coughs seemed to have her out of school more than in school. She saw me a couple times one spring, cleaning up the depletion of a winter of illness. I added vitamin D3 and OPC's to her regimen, and didn't see her again for a full year. I ran into Tessa with her family at the store. She had no idea who I was, and when told that I was her doctor, she said, “Why would I ever go to a doctor?” Turns out that she hadn't been to a doctor, a nurse, or taken a day off from school since our last visit the year before, and didn't even mind taking the cod liver oil. Small matter, head colds? Yes, but satisfying nonetheless.