The Common Cold ‘Friend or Foe’

Posted on Nov 3 2014 - 10:00am by Diana Lynn
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4014611539_bfdaef47d5_zWhen we move from late summer to autumn there is a marked increase in coughs and colds caused by viruses.

Every time I have a cold I am reminded how lucky I am that my body is able to fight infection the way it does. I am surprised how many people think it is unnatural to have a cold. They also believe that the object of treating a cold is to suppress the sneezing and coughing by paying a lot of money for many different over the counter pills and potions. These commercial medications may remove the symptoms, but they don’t really help the underlying cause. I believe that by letting the body go through its own very natural process when unwell is really the best insurance for future health.

Common cold symptoms include:
* Sore scratchy throat
* Stuffy nose
* Runny nose
* Cough/respiratory irritation
* Mild fever
* Sneezing
* Headache

Some people think if you are near someone who has a cold or you touch something a sick person touches, you will automatically catch a cold. People don’t just ‘catch colds’. Have you ever wondered why sometimes, despite the amount of time you are around people who have a cold, you don’t catch it yourself? A cold is a natural way of expelling accumulated toxic waste from the human system.  When there is an accumulation of toxins the body’s immunity is lowered and the ‘cold virus’ can be nature’s perfect way of releasing them. The duration of the cold will depend on the amount of toxins accumulated in the body; the underlying health of your immune system controls the rapidity with which the toxins are expelled.

So what is happening when I have a cold?

When we have colds it means our immune system is not functioning quite as well as it could. If your immune system is low, the possibility of viral infection will increase. The sneezing, aching and coughing are signs that your immune system is fighting the infection. The over production of mucus traps the bacteria and is an excellent way to expel toxins from the body. These symptoms are helping the body rid itself of the virus. It is beneficial not to suppress them.

What causes my immune system to lower?
Many people choose to believe that there is a magic cure for every illness. They think that there is something seriously wrong when a physical symptom causes discomfort in some way. They love to pass the responsibility on to the virus, or the doctor to cure it, rather than taking responsibility for their own health.

Many things can cause our immune system to lower. I have listed below just a few of them:

  • Poor diet
  • Too much alcohol or other stimulants
  • Serious Illness
  • Overwork
  • Stress and too much outside pressure
  • Lack of exercise
  • No time to relax and have fun
  • Too much time spent focusing on negative thoughts and feelings

All the above may cause the immune system to lower in efficiency.  Other factors that can help lower our immunity are excessive airline travel, poor air quality, prescription drugs and antibiotic therapy. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses.

SoupPoor nutrition is by far the most common reason for lowered immunity and susceptibility to coughs and colds. A diet rich in anti-oxidant immune boosting foods like green vegetables, avocado, citrus, and colourful fruits and vegetables will all help to keep colds at bay. Lots of B vitamins, which are found in whole grains, help to produce anti-bodies which fight infections.

root vegs

If you are feeling constantly tired, suffer repeated infections like thrush,sore throats, and have more than two colds a year, you probably need to boost your immune system. Add too much stress and the body will dehydrate, congest and accumulate toxins easily.  Under these circumstances, the cold virus may be the perfect way of making necessary changes to help lighten the load. The body will always do what is best for us at any given time.

Hopefully by now I have convinced you all that having the occasional cold can be very beneficial and detoxifying physically and emotionally. Some people experience the release of old blockages and feel energised and refreshed after the cold has subsided and the toxins have been removed.

What can I do to help nurse my way back to health naturally?

JuicesThe best treatment for colds is a proper diet. At the start of a cold it is best to abstain from all solid food, sticking to simple immune boosting juices, broths, fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies as these contain lots of vitamin C together with high levels of vitamins and minerals which will help fight infection. These foods will also help to neutralise the acid condition present during a cold.

One of the worst symptoms of a cold is dehydration. Sipping water throughout the day will keep the mucus membranes moist and good hydration will help loosen phlegm. Ginger tea is also a comforting way to relieve the chills and congestion of a cold (recipe will follow).

After the acute symptoms are over, you can then introduce other foods. Stick to a healthy balance of gentle proteins; seeds, nuts, fish and chicken. Include alkalising vegetables and whole grains like short grain brown rice. Whole grains contain plenty of important B vitamins, zinc and magnesium.

Adding lots of garlic to food is another way of boosting immune function. Studies have shown garlic to contain antiviral properties. During the cold and flu season you may want to take garlic supplements.

During the cold it is advisable to avoid lots of red meats, sugar, dairy, refined carbohydrate like white bread, pasta, tea, coffee and alcohol. These are all acid forming and will create even more mucus adding more congestion.

Rose petal bathI love to indulge in one or two Epsom salt baths (magnesium sulfate) when I have a cold, feel tired or am generally run down. Soaking in a bath full of hot water with a few cups of Epsom salts is a great way of relaxing muscles and drawing out toxins from the body. When magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin, such as in the bath, it draws toxins from within, sedates the nervous system and relaxes muscles, helping us to rest and sleep well. It is important to get a good night sleep when we have a cold as the body can heal much quicker if we rest instead of trying to carry on with too many tasks.

Many herbs have medicinal qualities and can help soothe inflamed throats and bronchial passages. One I find particularly helpful is Echinacea, which has been shown in research to be the best herb for helping the body fight cold and flu symptoms. Echinacea stimulates white blood cell activity, increases the body’s production of antiviral substances and enhances immune cell production. Research shows that taking Echinacea as soon as the cold symptoms appear can shorten the duration and lessen the severity of cold symptoms.

Other useful measures in the treatment of a common cold are careful sunbaths, if the sun is out of course, and lots of fresh air.

So finally, embrace your cold and enjoy the time huddled up on the sofa with a good book, corny films and a box of tissues. Don’t expend energy you don’t need to; the more energy your body can use for healing the better!

I am now feeling a lot clearer, brighter and fresher as a result of a recent cold, and realise how stressed I was before I became ill. I had also taken on too much work responsibility. Taking advantage of the quieter time whilst nursing my cold really helped me take stock and make a few changes to my lifestyle.

In coming weeks, I will be bringing you some one of my favourite winter recipes including: juices, Spicy Fish Curry and Ginger tea.

Healthy eating!

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