treating spring colds



This time of the year, my office is flooded with questions about treatments for those symptoms that we thought we had escaped once the dark days of winter had passed: achy body, scratchy throat, cough, runny nose, stuffy head and that rundown feeling that sends us off to bed.

Whatever the season, the common cold is an acute viral infection — most often a rhinovirus or influenza — characterized by the inflammation of any or all of the airways including the nose, throat, sinuses, larynx, trachea and bronchi. The onset of a cold is visually abrupt after a 1- to 3-day incubation period, starting with throat or nose discomfort or burning, followed by sneezing, runny nose or malaise. Most colds last 4-10 days, and it's not uncommon for people to have a chronic respiratory irritation that remains after the infection has resolved, so it's best to continue using these natural treatments for several days after your cold symptoms have subsided.

Natural Strategies
First of all: Rest. Resting during the early stages of a cold will help the most, as will drinking plenty of fluids — dehydration works against the body's immune response.

Also, try to eliminate stressor foods such as caffeine, sugar, processed foods, dairy products, refined carbohydrates and known food allergens. Eat more fruits and vegetables, especially in soups and stews, with small amounts of whole grains, beans, miso and meat broths.

Echinacea (E. angustifolia, E. purpurea, E. pallida) is well known for its immune-modulating activity; for stimulating the body's defense system; for increasing secretions from the lymphatic system, mucus membranes and skin; and for having strong anti-influenza activity. This well-researched plant has been shown to shorten the duration and reduce the severity of colds, influenxa and upper respiratory infections.

Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata), also known as "king of the bitters" because of its taste, has immune-enhancing and antiinflammatory actions that may significantly reduce the course and duration of the common cold. A dose of 500 milligrams (mg) given three times a day for prevention — and up to 1,000 rng four to six times a day during active infection — are the standard amounts.

Elder flower and berries (Sambucus nigra) are two medicinally active parts of the same bush. The berries are high in flavonoid cornpounds that have therapeutic activity as antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immuneenhancing tonics. This plant is useful for both acute and chronic respiratory diseases, including acute influenza, earache, sinusitis and sore throat. Use it as a tea, syrup, tincture or tablet several times a day.

Garlic (Allium sativa) acts as a broad-spectrum antimicrobial. The active agents in this plant have a particularly strong action on the mucus membranes and the respiratory system. I suggest incorporating it into the diet in several ways: Make a soup with lots of garlic, onions, shiitake mushrooms, fresh gingerroot, carrots, celery, parsley and miso broth, or add 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped garlic to 1 tablespoon of mashed potatoes with fresh parsley.

Herbal teas made from antispasrnodic and anti-inflammatory herbs such as licorice root, marshmallow root, catnip, anise seed, cinnamon, peppermint, linden flowers, elder flowers, thyme and wild cherry bark can be blended together to support recovery.

Some health food products I recommend include:

1. Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea pallida made by both Baptisia and
Thuja, plus Esberitox chewable tablets.
2. Throat sprays made with bitter orange, berberine, calendula, myrrh,
echinacea or propolis used several times a day will help with the early
stages of a cold. Gaia Herbs makes several versions, including one for
3. Composition Essence for Children (Gaia), a traditional blend of herbs
that increases the body temperature, increases sweating and supports the
body's defense mechanisms, is an excellent formula to use at the first
signs of a cold. Traditional herbs included in the formula are bayberry
root bark, cloves, ginger and cayenne. The mixture is added to hot water
or tea and tastes spicy sweet.
As a final note, always remember to follow the manufacturer's directions when taking these products.



By Mary Bove, ND

Internationally known lecturer and author, Mary Bove, ND, offers real-life case studies from her clinical practice in Vermont.

Received her doctorate of naturopathic medicine and midwifery certification from Bastyr University of Natural Health in Seattle.

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