Many cold symptoms are due to the body’s immune system reacting to the virus. The goal of naturopathic treatment is to work with the body’s defense mechanisms by enhancing immune function rather than suppress symptoms with nasal decongestants and analgesics. For this reason, cold symptoms may temporarily worsen when treating with natural therapies. However, the duration of the cold is usually shorter. It is not necessary to use every suggestion to treat a cold; any combination will help.
A healthy immune system is the best prevention against colds and nutrition is the key to a healthy immune system. Once a cold has taken hold, the following can be helpful in boosting the immune system:Eat lightly. Let your body’s energy go toward eliminating the virus instead of digesting food.
Drink plenty of water, herbal tea, diluted vegetable juice, and soup. Do not drink fruit juices, dairy, coffee, alcohol, or soda.
Limit sugar intake. Sugar intake depresses the immune system.
Dietary Supplement Remedies
Betacarotene – Take 200,000 IUs daily.
Bioflavonoids – Take 1000 mg daily.
Garlic – Eat 3 cloves of garlic per day or take 2-3 capsules or tablets 3 times daily.
Vitamin A – Take 25,000 IUs daily (do not take more than 5000 IU daily if pregnant).
Vitamin C – Take 500-1000 mg every 2 hours.
Zinc – Take one zinc lozenge containing 23 mg of zincevery 2 hours.
Herbal Medicine Remedies
Herbal medicines rarely have significant side effects when used appropriately and at suggested doses. Occasionally, an herb at the prescribed dose causes stomach upset or headache. This may reflect the purity of the preparation or added ingredients, such as synthetic binders or fillers. For this reason, it is recommended that only high-quality products be used. As with all medications, more is not better and overdosing can lead to serious illness and death.
Herbs often used in the treatment of viral infections include the following:
Astragalus (Astragulus membranaceus) — Used as an antiviral, an antiinflammatory, an immunomodulator, and an antioxidant.
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) — Used as an antiviral, an antiinflammatory, and an immunomodulator.
Hyssop (Hyssop officinalis) — Used as an antiviral, an immunomodulator, and an expectorant.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) — Used as an antiviral, an antiinflammatory, and an immunomodulator.
Lomatium (Lomatium dissectum) — Used as an antiviral, specifically for hard to treat respiratory tract infections.
Osha (Ligusticum porteri) — Supports the immune system and indicated for viral respiratory illness with copious amounts of mucus and congestion.
Oregon Grape (Mahonia spp.) — Used as an astringent, an antimicrobial, an antiinflammatory, an antioxidant, and it supports the immune system.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) — Used as an antiviral and an anti-inflammatory.