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A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.

Colds and Flu

Common respiratory infections include the apparently similar cases of common cold and the flu, since the symptoms are almost identical, it becomes very difficult to determine which one you may be suffering from. In general, a common cold sets in very slowly and it takes some time for the symptoms to appear, in comparison the flu is quite sudden in setting in and a person is stricken with the symptoms very quickly, which is to say that in cases of flu, feeling alright in the morning is no guarantee that you will feel fine in the afternoon as well, it may hit you in that short span of time. The typical symptoms connected and identified with the common cold include: physical discomfort like nasal congestion, the appearance of a sore throat and resultant pain, and regular sneezing, these symptoms of the common cold are in general milder than those that are experienced during flu, though they have many similarities. The symptoms during affliction with the flu include besides those mentioned above, a fever that may come on immediately with the other signs, a feeling of acute fatigue and physical exhaustion, the muscles may ache badly, these symptoms may also be accompanied by constant headaches that will persist as long as the flu lasts.

Recovery time for those patients suffering from either the flu or the common cold is dissimilar. Depending on the state of your immune system and your general health, a cold may trouble you for only three or four days, and will persist only for about a week in most cases. Whereas in cases of the flu, symptoms may persist for up to 10 days, while other physical problems and symptoms like fatigue can last for near about three weeks after initial infection in many cases. Therefore the flu can lead to complications like bronchitis or more probably related illnesses such as pneumonia. This is in stark contrast to the common cold, which almost never develops into anything serious, and disappears completely very quickly.

The infective particles called viruses are responsible for both the flu and the common cold; these attach themselves during the infective process to the tissue lining the nose or the throat and multiply in the upper respiratory system and occasionally affecting the lungs in serious cases. Immune responses are now triggered in the person and the affected area is attacked by infection-fighting white blood cells, sent by the immune system, these take over the entire area in an attempt to stop viral multiplication. Therefore it is the immune systems response that we often call symptoms of a cold or the flu, as these reactions of the body, in increased mucus and other responses aren't produced by the viruses but are actually the result of the body fighting infection; therefore the quicker the viral multiplication, the sooner the display of symptoms. Viruses are more viable in certain environments and this could be one reason, cases of the common cold and the flu increase in winter, as people spend more time indoors and environment is heated, the humidity may fall, the resultant dry air causes the drying out of nasal passages, this being already uncomfortable to many people is also a condition ideally suited for viral transmission and infection.

Supplements and herbs

The treatment induced by these supplements are not intended for the suppression of symptoms, that is these supplements are not for use in symptomatic treatment but for use in fighting the cold and flu viruses when infection sets in. A quick recovery is therefore the objective here, and the patient may not necessarily feel relief at once, or immediately after using the supplements. The full-blown development of the symptoms of the flu or the common cold can be curtailed greatly in some cases, through timely and effective treatment. The supplements should be used immediately and as soon as the symptoms start appearing, this regimen of supplements should then be continued until the illness has been subdued. The fat-soluble vitamin, retinol or vitamin A has an effective antiviral effect when utilized in high doses, but at these doses, however, the vitamin should only be used for about a week. It is wrong to say that vitamin C will prevent a cold from setting in, though this belief is widely held, it may however, when taken in sufficient quantities effectively shorten the recovery time and subdue the effects of some of the symptoms. Echinacea is effective as an herbal supplement in that it effectively stimulates the immune system, which is now strengthened respond effectively to the infective virus particle. It is known that lozenges made from zinc can perhaps stop a cold from progressing and make recovery shorter, the virus itself may be destroyed by this supplement, though the exact way it deals with infection is uncertain. For people who get secondary illnesses or a bacterial infection, including problems like sinusitis or bronchitis, immediately after recovery or following a cold or the flu, may help themselves avoid these secondary problems by the simple expedient of adding the common garlic to their supplement, as soon as they feel the onset of a flu or cold. Garlic abounds in compounds that may prevent and deter the invasion of tissues by microorganisms such as bacteria. A healthy immune system is the best defense against illness. Therefore a combination supplement of the herbs goldenseal and Echinacea can be taken to bolster the immune response, these herbs cannot prevent colds or the flu, they are for therapeutic usage and for treatment of infection, and cannot act as preventive agents or supplements.

Aromatherapy

Commonly used essential oils for colds and flu:

Homeopathy

These homeopathic remedies can be used in a potency range of 6, 12 or 30 per dose. For grave and serious symptoms the dosage should be 1 dose an hour at the beginning of treatment. As the treatment progresses, signs of improvement will show up within 3 hours at this dosage level. A new remedy or a different approach or dosage will have to be utilized if this does not take place or if the symptoms change. As the patient recovers and improves there must be a correlated reduction in the frequency of the dose administered, when the patient has fully recovered it is still advisable to use the assigned remedy at least once a day for a period of several days in order to discount a relapse of the illness.

  • Allium cepa
    Allium cepa is a homeopathic prescription to be used in people with profuse nasal dripping, runny or watery noses, an acrid discharge in the nose, or an irritation in the upper lip which may be accompanied by sneezing fits that are mild to violent. These symptoms may be compounded with dull pains in the head and a discharge from the nose. The patient may complain of being thirsty and will always feel hot. Other regions that may be affected include the eyes, with a burning sensation. The eyes may smart and become red, and very sensitive to light; there may be a non-acrid and watery discharge in them as well. There may be pain in the larynx and a tickling sensation, aggravated by a hacking cough in the presence of cold air. The patient may also complain of constriction in the throat. The affected person will worsen in damp, cold weather and places, and towards the evening, he or she may be uncomfortable lying down and more so in a warm room. Being outdoors and in the open air will greatly improve the condition.
  • Arsenicum
    Arsenicum is to be used as a prescription when there is a watery discharge that may also be slightly acidic, from the nose, there is also a constant nasal dripping discharge present, which might irritate and cause burns in the region of the upper lip. The other signs may be a feeling of the nose being stuffed up; this sensation may not be alleviated by the action of sneezing. The dry nostrils may have a burning sensation in them. All of these symptoms may be joined by the presence of a dull throbbing headache and the patient will be very sensitive to light. Psychologically the patient may display signs of restlessness, and will appear anxious and nervous while seemingly always feeling cold. The patient will want sips of cold water frequently. Other psychological symptoms may be a display or a fear of serious illness afflicting him or her; a fear of death may also be present. The patient will greatly worsen when left in the open air, in a cold environment, and especially after midnight. The patient will improve when inside a warm room, or when plied with warmed drinks and liquids.
  • Euphrasia
    Euphrasia is to be used as a homeopathic prescription in patients whose eyes have been affected by a constant and acrid discharge, the tears from the eyes may be scalding to the skin, almost feeling as if they were being burned, the eyes of the patient may be very sensitive to light. The lids of the eyes may be swollen. There may be a headache and a feeling of weight or pressure in the sternum. The larynx may have a tickling sensation. The nasal region may have a discharge, which is non-irritating, and this could be accompanied by bouts of sneezing, which may be quite violent. After midnight the nasal discharge may become profuse, a runny nose will set in joined by a hacking cough and a lot of discharge with the coughs. The patient may awaken frequently in the night. The patient generally worsens in the hours of the morning, when staying indoors, towards the evening and at nighttime. The patient's condition improves out of doors, after eating, and in dark ambience.
  • Nat mur
    Nat mur is to be used when there is a watery discharge in the nose that may thicken, and appear whitish when observed. After midnight the patient may develop bouts of sneezing, with nasal problems, including a runny phase and a blocked phase, sores may develop inside the nose. Salty mucus may be coughed up. Other parts affected include the eyes, which may become watery when exposed to wind. As a symptom cold sores may appear in patients. The patient will be very thirsty and have dry and cracked lips. Psychologically the patient may appear very sensitive and could get easily depressed. The patient may also prefer to be alone and will hate signs of sympathy from people. The patient may be easily given to crying. The patient will worsen in the mid-morning, or when exposed to the sun and warmth. He or she will also improve on exposure to a lot of fresh air, when sweating, or after a bath using cold water.
  • Nux vomica
    Nux vomica is to be used as a prescription in patients who have dry, stuffed up noses, with a runny nose during the day, which may become stuffed by nightfall. The nasal problems may include a stuffed feeling in the nose in the open air, and a runny nose inside a warm room. In children symptoms may include snuffles and sneezing, accompanied sometimes by nose bleeds. And a feeling of aching in the entire body, other physical signs in the patient includes feeling cold which might be accompanied by a dull headache. Psychologically the patient may become very irritable and impatient, even driven to do things in some cases. Other behaviors displayed by the patient may also include always feeling cold and chilled, a tendency to stay awake and suffer from loss of sleep, to overwork, and an over indulgence in many things, including the consumption of alcohol. The patient may worsen when left out in the open air, in a cold room or cold weather, on exposure to drafts, and under excessive noise and light. The patient will improve after taking rest, in the damp air and when exposed to warmth or a source of heat.
  • Pulsatilla
    Pulsatilla is to be used as a homeopathic prescription in people suffering from the late stages of cold, the nose may exude a thick, yellow-green and nonirritating mucus, accompanied by a foul smelling discharge, sneezing may be present. Other symptoms may include bleeding in the nose. There may be signs of loss of smell, taste, and or of appetite in the patient. The coughing may include bouts of discharge filled coughing after midnight and a dry coughing spree in the night. The patient may not feel even a little bit thirsty and the mouth may have a greasy taste. Psychologically speaking, the patient may be very changeable and symptoms include a wild seesawing of the moods. Other signs may be a predilection to crying and a craving for sympathy and friendship. The patient may also be impatient and rude. He or she will worsen toward the mornings and in the evenings, when exposed to a lot of heat even though being cold to the touch, he or she may also worsen inside stuffy rooms. The patient will markedly improve when out of doors and in the open air.

Additional things you may do

Good hygienic habits can greatly reduce your chances of becoming infected, in such simple ways as washing the hands regularly. Colds and flu's can be avoided to a great extent by using a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer in winter to keep indoor air moist and pleasant. It is always advisable to receive a flu shot as a precaution during flu season. So vaccination should preferably be carried out at least six to eight weeks to build up a viral immunity, vaccination therefore should be done in the late fall before the flu season hits you unawares. As viruses can mutate, strains of flu that emerge each year are usually different from earlier ones, therefore an annual shot would be advisable.

Usual dosage

  • Echinacea, 200 mg five times daily. Take 200 mg daily in three-week rotations with astragalus (400mg daily), to alleviate symptoms.
  • Garlic, 400 to 600 mg four times daily with food. Every pill should provide 4,000 mcg allicin potential.
  • Goldenseal, 125 mg standardized extract five times daily for five days. Don't use with high blood pressure or during pregnancy.
  • Vitamin A, 25,000 IU two times daily until symptoms improve. Reduce dose to 10,000 IU a day after seven days. Pregnant women should not exceed 5,000 IU daily.
  • Vitamin C, 2,000 mg three times daily until symptoms improve. Reduce dose to 1,000 mg three times a day after five days. If diarrhea develops, also reduce the dose.
  • Zinc lozenges, one lozenge every three - four hours as needed. Avoid exceeding 150 mg zinc daily from all sources.

For kids

See age-appropriate dosages of herbal remedies

At the first sign of a cold setting in on children, a Chinese botanical formula called yin qiao may be taken as a precautionary and preventive measure as its usefulness declines after symptoms have appeared for at least three days in a consistent manner. While in the acute phase of the cold, the dosage for children should be one dose, for every two hours. This dosage can of course be reduced as the symptoms start to ease, to one dose, thrice a day, for a period of one week.
For your attention: as aspirin is not contained in the liquid extract, it is to be preferred over other forms of the substance. Children under four years of age cannot be allowed to take the prescription in the form of a tablet. A single dose of chamomile tea, twice a day, or as needed can be given to children to relax them and aid them. A soothing herbal bath made of a combination of the herbs chamomile, calendula, rosemary, and if rosemary is unavailable lavender can be prepared and used to calm a restless and fussy child under treatment. A prolonged soak can be in the bath, which should preferably be kept comfortably warm for the child. To bolster and strengthen the immune system the herbs Echinacea and goldenseal can be used as a stimulant. These herbs have wonderful properties, for example the herb Echinacea is both antibacterial and antiviral, the herb goldenseal is an antibacterial with an impressive ability to heal the irritation in the mucus membrane in cases of cold. The dosage for this potent combination of herbs for children should be one dose of the combination formula of Echinacea and goldenseal, taken thrice daily, for a period ranging from five days to a whole week. Detoxification of the body and antibacterial action are both contained in the common garlic. To serve this end dosage for children should be one capsule, for a week, and in amounts, twice or thrice daily. Children may prefer to consume the garlic in an odorless capsule form, rather than directly even though it is possible to substitute one clove of fresh garlic for each capsule. To increase perspiration in children, ginger tea may be given. Ginger tea can calm the effects of a cold, while cleansing the body. In children, especially during the acute stages of a cold, the dosage level should be one dose, every four hours or so. To help bring down fever, sage tea may be used as it also helps to reduce nasal congestion greatly. During a cold the dosage for children is a single dose of the sage tea, thrice or more daily, for a period of three to five days in total.

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Comments

From Peta Emes - Oct-05-2013
I find that cinnamon, sprinkled on my evening meals at the first signs of lethargy, cold and flu symptoms, raises my body temperature and quickens my system, to help prevent cold and flu progressing.
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