Last week my lovely herbalist aunt, Nancy Peterson, posted on her blog about some natural remedies for colds. The information was so good, I asked my aunt if I could post it here. I hope you find it as useful as I did!
As per a few requests, I am sharing some suggestions that work for me in getting over colds more easily.
First, an illustration:
In simplistic terms our body can be likened to a wood stove. Like a stove, we take in fuel and air and burn them to create heat and energy. Naturally, the better quality of fuel and air we receive, the hotter and cleaner our stove will burn with a minimum of waste. When the fuel we take in is inferior, like eating lots of junk food, the fire will burn poorly and our bodies will get clogged with waste. This will result in a lack of energy to properly run the body's many functions and we will eventually end up getting sick. (In addition to eating clean foods to prevent toxic build-up, fasting is a good natural way to help clear out the toxins.)
The theory is that the symptoms of many diseases are the results of the body's efforts to remove the waste material from the system. There are four "chimneys" through which this waste can be eliminated - the digestive tract, the urinary system, the skin and the respiratory passages. When the body tries to use the digestive tract we can experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc. When the body uses the skin we experience body odor, rashes, pimples and pox. If the respiratory passages are used we experience runny noses, coughs, earaches, sore throats and so on. Using the kidneys results in kidney and bladder irritations and infections. Fevers are seen as the body's efforts to "burn up" waste material to be eliminated more easily.
So, "the cold is the cure", as stated by Dr. Steven Horne, in that through this process of elimination, which unfortunately results in symptoms we don't like, our bodies are getting rid of the waste or toxins that are creating this condition. "Germs" actually feed on toxins, and by eliminating these toxins, the germs will no longer be able survive. Naturally then, by helping the body to do it's job of getting rid of, or flushing out these toxins, we will get well faster. And conversely, trying to block this process (such as using anti-histamines to stop the nose from running) we will delay getting well. Our bodies know just what to do to rid themselves of these toxins but the process can be slow. By using herbs, pure water and other natural means we can help the body to accomplish this task more quickly.
SO, with these basic principles in mind, following are a few tips that work well for me:
At the first hint of a cold coming on take warming herbs to heat up the depressed body. (Xpac helps with this too.) For me two capsules of cayenne and a tall drink of water work well. Some people take this as often as every hour with no other food and this alone can help you get better in just a few hours. Children should take milder warming herbs like ginger, cinnamon or peppermint. It should be noted that it's good to give the digestive system a rest during this process. The more simple the foods we eat the better; like clear broth soups, juices and teas.
Along with warming herbs, I also take yarrow (tea or capsules) to relax and open the pores of the skin so that the toxins can "dump" more easily. (Yarrow is also mildly anti-viral and anti-bacterial, as well as helping to stop bleeding.) To enhance the effects of the yarrow (peppermint works too) take a hot bath or shower and wrap up to keep warm to speed the process. Remember to drink a lot during this process.
It is also important for children and adults to clear the bowels quickly as toxins can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. (Is this too much information? :) We use Dr. Christopher's Lower Bowel formula.
If the symptoms are upper respiratory, sinus rinses are also useful. We use Neil Med sinus irrigators from Costco. Rinsing your sinuses is also a good preventive measure if you are around others who are sick as it may stop an infection before it even begins. (And speaking of preventative measures, echinacea should not be taken at the same time as vitamin C as it will render it less effective.) Sinus rinses are also useful for calming sore throats as the irritation is often caused by toxins dripping down from the sinuses. Another good remedy for sore throats is cayenne stirred into a spoonful of raw honey.
In addition to these simple steps we take, here are a few other herbal tips for fighting colds:
For early cold symptoms consider using lemons, elderberry, vitamin C, wild cherry.
For old cold symptoms more useful are garlic, horsetail, thyme and rosemary.
For a yellowish tongue, bitter herbs like horehound and goldenseal.
I hope these suggestions are helpful. Feel free to share other ideas you have.