Despite our best efforts at prevention, we can all be susceptible at times to those miserable cold and flu viruses. And this time of year especially, no matter how much you did to prepare for it, Cedar (Mountain Juniper, actually) can slam you. It’s good to know, though, that when this hit, there are many things we can do to make their effects less uncomfortable and their visits brief!
BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM AND FEND OFF THE VIRUS
Sick young woman drinking tea on sofa[/caption]At the first sign of a cold or flu, give your immune system a boost so your body can fight the virus.
Homeopathics like Dolivaxil, Winter Tonic, and Winter Balance II (available in our clinic) will help. These work best if you take them immediately at the first signs of symptoms, preferably within the first 12 hours. After the first day, they will help but not as dramatically. Follow the directions on the label.
Extra doses of stomach-buffered Vitamin C are great. Natural Vitamin C found in fruits, vegetables, or low-sugar juices can provide a good source of Vitamin C. Try taking 1000 mg of Vitamin C; one or two daily while you are feeling sick. There are electrolyte drinks with vitamin C that will keep you hydrated after vomiting for stomach bugs.
Take zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold. Zinc plays a role in protein synthesis, and zinc ions can inhibit viral replication by stopping the synthesis of the proteins that form the viral shell. It is also believed that Zinc medications coat common cold viruses and prevent them from attaching to the nasal cells. Zinc lozenges have been found to shorten the duration of the common cold by several days. They are available at many stores in town–check your labels carefully. Don’t get anything with sugar or corn syrup, which will only make your congestion worse. Often you will find a lozenge with added herbs like Echinacea that might be helpful. These lozenges can also soothe a sore throat.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get the important nutrients required to fend off viruses. Avoid orange juice, which is very mucous-forming. Try eating the whole orange, or drink tomato juice instead.
Get plenty of sleep, and try to keep stress levels to a minimum. Both stress and lack of sleep can lower your immune system and increase the severity of cold and flu symptoms.
Please remember, catching a cold or getting the flu is your Higher Self telling you to slow down. Look at the bigger picture, and realize that you are likely out of balance in your life, probably working too much and playing too little. Mental, emotional, and spiritual balance is significant in keeping physically healthy.
If Cedar Fever is the bane of your existence in Austin wintertime, you probably dread the holiday season, knowing that you will feel miserable. Try as I might, some patients are so allergic to Cedar that they suffer every year even while doing yearlong programs to prevent it. If you are one of those people, or if you know someone with Cedar allergies, please pass on these tips. (These suggestions also apply for any head, sinus, or lung congestion, not just allergies.)
Sip hot water (drop in a slice of lemon for some flavor and vitamin C) throughout the day to help relieve nasal and sinus congestion. In addition to thinning mucous, drinking plenty of water will keep you from getting dehydrated should you have a fever. Remember, this trick works only with hot WATER. For some reason, hot teas and hot coffee don’t have the same mucous-thinning effect as the hot water. This seems like a minor thing to do, but it often has the best results of any treatment.
WO oil (available at the clinic and called many names by all of you–Witch Oil, Whatever Oil!) contains essential oils and makes a great natural decongestant and pain reliever. Swab a small amount topically in your ears or on your neck and throat area to seep into the lymph glands. Swabbing inside your mouth and touching the back of your throat with WO on a Q-tip can instantly make a sore throat go away. For sinus congestion, try adding three or four drops of WO oil to a bowl of steaming hot water. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the fumes. Essential oils have been used for hundreds of years for the treatment of a common cold. Menthol relieves nasal congestion by causing a cool sensation in the nose and also relieves the symptoms of sore throat and cough by a local anesthetic action. The antimicrobial activity of essential oils such as menthol may also help prevent viral and bacterial infection.
Eucalyptus Oil Bath Salts, available through our Massage Therapist Jennifer Carr (doTerra), make for a great healing bath. (Eucalyptus is another healing essential oil great for colds and flu.) I recently found a lovely bath salt at Sabia at the corner of 5th and Lamar for Colds and Flu congestion. It is such a fun store full of pure healing essential oils and quality skincare that I’m sure you would enjoy a visit.
Flushing your sinuses with a Neti pot can be extremely helpful. Pick one up at Whole Foods, or try using a baby bulb syringe to squirt a saline solution (Sea Salt mixed in bottled water) into one nostril, letting it flow into your sinuses as much as possible and “rinsing” them out. A product carried by Walgreens called Alkalol is available by asking the pharmacist for it. It is an excellent blend of essential oils, including Eucalyptus, that is made for sinus washing. Follow the directions on the bottle.
At nighttime, try using DHIST from the clinic as a natural decongestant and antihistamine. Cataplex C is an excellent form of Vitamin C with antioxidants and bioflavonoids. Premiere Labs Allicidan has been working well for the cold that’s been traveling around town: take up to 12 daily until symptoms are gone.
There are herbal teas that are helpful. I have found Herbatussin tea by Celestial Seasonings to be effective. Go to the store and see what’s available that attracts you–there are several respiratory and cold-care herbal teas on the market. Often a hot drink like this is well absorbed and feels comforting for congestion.
Be careful of taking chemical decongestants. They often dry you out so much that you can end up worse than when you started. These pills trap the sinus drainage in your head, so it doesn’t get the opportunity to leave your body. This can result in headaches and infection.
FOR PAIN & FEVER
A fever isn’t always a bad thing. Any fever below 102 is a sign that your body is doing exactly what it is designed to do when presented with an invading virus or infection. If it goes higher than that for a prolonged period (more than 1 to 2 hours), you might want to consider taking some Tylenol to lower it back to a manageable level. However, the healthier you are, the more likely your body will respond to an infection with a fever.
Aches and pains all over usually indicate that you have the flu, not a cold. An Epsom salt bath can relieve the pain, or some of the Salt Baths mentioned previously can also help. Dolivaxil also can relieve the pain of influenza.
If your symptoms worsen after a couple of days, be sure to call the clinic. Worsening symptoms may indicate a secondary infection, which will require additional treatment.
Remember, the best ways to avoid the cold or flu are to wash your hands frequently, stay well-rested, and keep happy and stress-free!
* The information in this article cannot be substituted for medical advice about your unique body. Call for an appointment to discuss questions or concerns.