Minimizing Sore Throats, Colds and Flus
When the symptoms of a sore throat, cold, flu or other upper respiratory infection begin, there are steps you can take to boost your immunity and avoid becoming ill or to shorten the duration of illness.
The earlier you take these measures, the more helpful they will be. Ninety percent of common colds are due to viral infections. Though commonly prescribed, antibiotics are not effective against viruses (only bacteria).
The reason antibiotics are prescribed is to prevent rheumatic fever following Strep throat in children or to avoid a secondary bacterial infection, tonsillitis or abscess that may be likely to occur or would be dangerous to a particular patient. Call your physician if your symptoms become severe.
Contamination studies have demonstrated that viral infections are spread much more readily by direct contact (as opposed to airborne).
Cleanliness tips to help avoid contamination by direct contact include not sharing utensils or toothbrushes, etc., frequent hand-washing and frequent laundering of clothing, bedding and towels (especially for children sharing rooms and bathrooms).
Steps You Can Take to Minimize Contraction or Duration of Cold, Flu or Other Upper Respiratory Infection
Eat Very Lightly: With most illnesses, appetite is diminished. This is a natural response because energy is needed to fight off the pathogen (virus, bacteria, etc.) and the body doesn’t have the energy to process food. Give your digestive system a rest! Avoid mucous producing foods such as dairy and any foods that produce allergy or intolerance symptoms. Choose whole foods (not highly processed or refined).
Rest (As Soon As Possible): Many people ignore the early warning signs of illness and keep working until they “drop”. This allows the pathogen to multiply and gain a stronger foothold. If you feel symptoms beginning (sore throat, headache, congestion, fever, etc.), take it easy. Take a day off if possible, as this may prevent you from having to take three days off later on. Keep your bedroom cool and humid. If you are cold, add covers. If you are too warm, uncover or take a lukewarm bath. Humid air is helpful in keeping mucous membranes moist.
Drink Plenty of Fluids: Drink large amounts of filtered water, herbal teas, broths and soups. Fruit juices and sweetened beverages (such as sodas) are not good choices, as their high sugar content will actually inhibit your immune cells from doing their respective job(s). If you do choose to drink fruit juices, dilute them with water (1:1). Avoid alcohol, coffee and black tea.
Avoid cigarette smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke, as it is an irritant to respiratory tract tissues.
Warm salt-water gargle: ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt in one cup warm water. Gargle 2-3 times daily after brushing teeth and tongue.
Immunity-Boosting Supplements, Herbs and Homeopathic Remedies (Adult dosages)
Note: Consult your physician regarding infants, children, pregnant women or persons with additional medical conditions
- Vitamin C: 500 mg every 3-4 hours with a small amount of food. Cut back on the dosage if stools become loose or you experience gas and cramping.
- Vitamin A: 10,000 IU three times daily. Women who are pregnant should not take high doses of Vitamin A as the fetus can be adversely affected—pregnant women should consult their physician for recommended dosages and signs of Vitamin A toxicity.
- Zinc: 30-50 mg once daily with a small amount of food. This can be continued for 1-2 weeks without depleting copper stores.
- Bioflavanoids: 1,000 mg (1 gram) daily
- Oscillococcinum (homeopathic remedy): Take 6 pellets every six hours (from the onset of flu or cold symptoms), dissolving the pellets under the tongue, at least 15 minutes away from food or water.
- Some common immune-enhancing, warming and diaphoretic (sweat-enhancing) herbs include Astragalus, Echinacea, Ginger, Glycyrrhiza (Licorice), Hydrastis (Goldenseal), Commiphora (Myrrh), Trifolium (Red clover), Ligusticum and Yarrow. Consult your physician regarding dosages (that are dependent upon the form of the herb—i.e. tea, tincture/extract, capsules, etc.). All herbs are not necessarily suitable or safe for all patients.
Home Hydrotherapy Treatments: Consult your physician regarding instructions for steam inhalations, hyperthermia, footbath, wet sock treatment, compress (throat or chest), etc. and the treatment’s suitability for a particular patient.
General Cough Syrup Recipe: Start with your strained herbal decoction or infusion (tea) and concentrate the tea by boiling to half the volume. Take one pint (16 oz.) of this herbal tea concentrate and mix with 2 Tablespoons honey and 2 ounces vegetable glycerin (or more honey). Herbal tinctures or extracts can be added to this general cough syrup in a ratio of 3 parts syrup to 1 part tincture/extract. Store in the refrigerator.
Nighttime Cough Syrup Recipe: Combine 1 teaspoon cloves, 1 whole sliced organic lemon and 2 pints fresh decoction/infusion (herbal tea). Boil ingredients together until half the original volume, and then add 12 ounces of honey.
Gargle Syrup Recipe: Combine the juice of one lemon, 1 teaspoon Vitamin C powder, 1 pinch of cayenne and 1 teaspoon honey. Gargle with the mixture.
Onion Syrup Recipe: One large sliced onion, 2 sliced cloves of garlic, ¾ cup raw honey or sugar. Layer the onion, garlic and sweetener alternately in a covered pan. Let stand 2-3 days or bake 2 or more hours at low heat. Strain and use as is, or as a base to add infusions, decoctions, tinctures or extracts to.
Fresh Herbal Glycerite: Take the fresh leaves of the desired herbs and juice or puree them with a little water in the blender. Strain. Add 50% glycerin. Store in the refrigerator.
Resource: Alschuler ND, Lise.