For the past week, I have been fighting off a cold.
It started as a sore throat and headache. I woke up one morning last week on the beaches of Jekyll Island, GA, feeling less than satisfactory. My neck ached, my throat hurt, and I wanted to close the blinds and sleep for many more hours. A few days later, the sore throat began to disappear, but it was replaced with nasal and head congestion, nightly headaches, sneezing and coughing.
I decided to do a little research on how to get rid of a cold the natural way. For hundreds of years, indigenous people and naturalists have fought viruses and diseases with items found in nature. Today, we are certainly capable of following the ideas and remedies of a simpler time.
Viruses adapt and get stronger over time, and although most over-the-counter treatments are valid and effective, they seldom combat the virus in a natural way – for instance, some cough medicines suppress coughing when we should let the body cough to rid itself of the virus and phlegm. According to the book Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis Balch, there are more than 200 types of viruses, and healthy adults get at least two of those colds per year.
I am now in day eight of the seven-to-10-day duration period, and I am going to follow the book's suggestions. Balch classifies nutrients according to importance, with essential being the most important and helpful being the least important:
- ACES + Zn (Balch suggests buying from Carlson Labs)
- Vitamin A, which helps build the immune system and heat mucous membranes
- Free-form amino acid complex, which supplies protein for healing
- N-acetylcysteine, a powerful antioxidant
- Multivitamin with a vitamin B complex, for healing, energy and stress
- Olive leaf extract or colloidal silver, which have antibiotic and antiviral properties
In addition, these herbal remedies might be helpful in fighting the common cold:
- Astragalus helps with white cell reproduction, which is vital for warding off infection.
- Boneset, a Native American herb, can be used to treat a fever. Elder, Echinacea, Field mint, yarrow, chickweed and chamomile are also herbs known to help treat a fever.
- Cat’s claw helps with cold symptoms. Stinging nettle, Chamomile, Echinacea, Catnip, Cottonwood, Wild mustard, Field mint and Elder help stop the sniffles, and Valerian, Coltsfoot, Cottonwood, White Willow, Wild rose, and Dandelion relieve headaches.
- Ephedra is helpful for congestion and coughing. Also, Comfrey, stinging nettle, burdock, coltsfoot and St. John’s wort are known to help with coughing. (Do not take St. John’s wort if you are on birth control.)
- Elderberry is good for upper respiratory infections and headaches, and it promotes sweating to help break fevers.
- Eucalyptus oil helps relieve congestion. Put six drops in two cups of boiling water, remove the water from the stove and inhale the steam.
- Tea tree oil helps soothe a sore throat. Gargle three to six drops in warm water (thanks, Ryan). Comfrey, Huckleberry, Horsetail, Wild rose and Herb Robert are also known to ease sore throats.
You can find most of these ingredients at your local whole foods store:
- Nature's Food Patch, Clearwater
- Richard's Foodporium, St. Petersburg, Belleair Bluffs and Dunedin
- Rollin' Oats Cafe and Market, St. Petersburg
- Earth Origins Market, Palm Harbor
- Whole Foods Market, Tampa
If you haven't caught the seasonal cold yet (it typically visits from late August until April), then start preventive measures now. Take or ingest probiotics in whichever way you prefer, and start taking Echinacea to build your immune system.
Remember to treat your body well, get lots of rest and eat healthy. Let us learn from our ancestors and those who have lived and gained health from the land.
I leave you with the famous words of Frank Lloyd Wright: “Stay close to nature; it will never fail you.”