The cooler weather is creeping towards us and, with a change of seasons, it’s quite likely colds and flu will be on the increase.
Here are some natural ways to treat colds and flu
Diet and lifestyle
- There’s no ‘cure’ for the common cold. Bed rest, lots of fluids, and regular small meals will help you recover faster. Manage colds and flu carefully. Untreated, flu can lead to even more serious conditions, including pneumonia.
- Keeping your immune system healthy is the best defence against colds and flu. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds in your daily diet. Deficiency of key immune system-supporting nutrients found in fruit and vegetables (zinc, vitamins C and E) may increase your susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections.
- Natural therapists often encourage patients to avoid dairy products as they believe they increase the body’s tendency to form mucus. If you notice this kind of reaction when you eat dairy products then you should avoid them when fighting a cold or flu.
- A humidifier, or other form of steam inhalation, can be helpful for keeping the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and lungs moist, and relieving congestion. Adding a little eucalyptus to the inhalation can also be helpful.
- Drinking warm liquids can be beneficial for similar reasons.
- If you smoke, stop smoking – it damages the tiny hairs lining the respiratory tract called cilia, which form an integral part of the immune system by helping to prevent foreign bodies entering the airways.
Herbs and vitamins
- Garlic can relieve symptoms of coughs, colds, influenza and bronchitis, especially when symptoms include bronchial or nasal congestion, and/or rhinitis (runny nose).
- Horseradish can relieve symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections such as the common cold. It may be particularly beneficial when sinus congestion is present.
- Vitamin C is important for healthy immune system function and may help reduce the severity and duration of the symptoms of common cold.
- Vitamin C is sometimes taken in conjunction with other nutrients that also support immune function, such as vitamins E and B6, the mineral zinc, and betacarotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A.
- The herb, echinacea, supports immune function and may help shorten the duration of colds and reduce the severity of symptoms. It can relieve a sore throat and coughs.
- Olive leaf extract can relieve symptoms of coughs, colds, flu and sore throats. It can also help to reduce fevers.
- Cod liver oil is a rich source of vitamin A, which helps maintain the health of the respiratory tract linings, which are the first line of defence against infection.
Consult your healthcare professional if:
- Your cold lasts for more than seven (7) days
- Your mucus is yellow, green, pink, or rust-coloured
- Your cough is severe and/or long-lasting and accompanied
by shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pains or tightness, a temperature, headache, earache, back and leg aches, fatigue, rashes, or weight loss.