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Common Cold Remedies

Follow these tips to fight off this season’s sneezes and sniffles.

Photograph: ©botamoci/istockphoto

When the holidays end and the long stretch before spring begins, you will start to notice lots more people walking around with the symptoms of a cold. We offer some natural remedies if you’ve already caught the bug, and a few pointers if you’re trying to avoid it.

Kasia Lindeberg, a nutritionist at Nature’s Way Health Foods in Stratford, offered a few ideas for shortening a cold’s “visit” with you and your family. Not every strategy works for everyone, but the on-staff professional consultants here are happy to answer questions and address individual concerns. It’s well worth a visit — Nature's Way Health Foods has been a retailer of organic foods, vitamins, naturopathic and homeopathic remedies since 1974.

Stimulate the body’s defenses:

  • Zinc supports immune function and may have antiviral effects. Recommended dose is 15 to 25mg in lozenge form every two hours for four days.
  • A 500mg capsule of ginger or a cup of fresh ginger tea taken four times daily can help with sore throat and chills.
  • Vitamin C—1000mg three to four times daily can support immune system function. In this case supplements may be better than fresh juice, such as orange, which contains large amounts of natural sugar, which may impede white blood cell (infection fighting) production.
  • Echinacea and goldenseal in combination may also help; a nutritionist or naturopath can help determine a correct dose.
  • Always let a nutritionist or doctor know which medications you take, to avoid combinations with negative side effects.

Hydrotherapy can also be helpful. Hot baths, showers and steams all help drain phlegm and act as a natural detox. Use essential oils as aromatherapy: eucalyptus and peppermint may help relieve congestion; lavender is an immune booster; tea tree and Melissa oils are also thought to fight viruses.

Beyond these techniques for cold busting, don’t forget the preventive steps you can take before cold symptoms take hold.

Wash your hands. This is the first rule of prevention on the Centers for Disease Control’s web entry about the common cold. Wash hands before meals, after meals, after any hygiene activity, and always when returning to the house from outside. To further deter infection, avoid touching surfaces in public places as much as possible. Being a bit germ-phobic has its rewards.

Hydrate & get plenty of rest. Drinking water by the glassful (not alcohol or caffeinated beverages, which are all dehydrating) is always good for you. Water, clear broth (think Mom’s chicken soup), or a cup of warm lemon water with honey can all act as natural decongestants. If you feel drained in winter, get more sleep.

Don’t take antibiotics. They are useless in fighting the cold virus; don’t take them for an infection they can’t cure. If your cold persists for more than a week, it may in fact be another infection; see your doctor.

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