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Colds and Flu

Common Cold is an inflammation of the upper respiratory tract (mucus membranes of the respiratory passages) caused by infection with common cold viruses. It occurs more often than any other disease and hence its name “Common Cold”.
Most common symptoms are irritations in the nose and throat, fever, headaches, watery eyes, muscle aches, shivers and temporary loss of smell and taste.
A person may experience the common cold more than once a year. The cold usually lasts from three to ten days. The first three days are usually the miserable ones. A serious cold may take the form of a chronic infection such as flu, tonsillitis, sinusitis, and bronchitis.
The common cold not even a disease. A cold is the cure of a pre-diseased condition and the symptoms are attempts by the body to restore normal conditions.

Colds and flu are a one of the major causes for doctor visits and absent days from work. Adults can get an average of four colds a year without taking into consideration smoking habits or their vicinity to young children during their 24 hours of the day.
While the cold and flu season is winter, not the weather is the cause of illness. During winter people spend more time indoors and are more exposed (sharing same air space) to other sick people.
The colds and flu viruses are highly infectious and they bring mayhem to our health. These viruses are generally referred to as rhinoviruses.
The frequent occurrences and widespread of the common cold is due to the fact that there are over more than two hundred viruses that can cause the common cold. Due to this extremely high number of common cold viruses, cures and treatment for common cold infections can vary significantly. It is unfeasible for the human body to develop immunity against all these viruses. As the body develops immunity to one virus, it is hit by another virus against which the body has no immunity yet.

Since the Common cold is a viral infection, treatment is usually not necessary and the symptoms will naturally fade away within a week or two. The treatment is usually directed towards relief of the discomfort related to the disease.
The sad true is that there isn’t yet an over-the-counter or prescription medicine that will prevent or cure the common cold. Flu vaccines are the only way to offer protection from specific strains of flu.

How to differentiate between Cold and Flu?

Symptom Common Cold Flu
It starts Progressively Rapid
Throat Irritating Aching
Chest Light cough at the end
of the illness
Severe and
Persistent cough
Nose Runny Congested
Head Congestion related
light headache
More pronounced
headache
Sensitivity to light None Not always
Loss of Appetite None Present
Fatigue None Present
Fever/Chills Very light Most of the times
Muscle aches None Most of the times

Herbal Steam and Bath Tea

Steam is an old-fashioned remedy for colds, coughs and congestion. You can increase steam's effectiveness by adding herbs or their essential oils to the water. When herbal steams are inhaled, herbal ingredients (antiseptic, decongestant, relaxing airway) get right where they're needed.
Boil 1 litre of water in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat and mix in 3 tablespoons eucalyptus leaves, 2 tablespoons of thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon rosemary leaves and 1 tablespoon peppermint leaves. Allow it to infuse while covered for 3 to 5 minutes.
You can also use 3 to 5 drops of essential oil of any of those same herbs but make sure you use no more than a total of 3 to 5 drops and not 5 drops of each.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour the water into a heat- resistant bowl. Place the bowl on a steady table than place a towel over your head while holding your face at least 30 centimeters (one feet) away from the steam. If the temperature feels comfortable, than take an experimental breath. If all feels good, than continue breathing deeply through your nose if you suffer from cold or sinus infection, or through your mouth if you are coughing.
When you had enough, you can strain out the herbs and pour the solution into the bath before you step in. If you used essential oils for your steam, just run a hot bath and add 5 to 10 drops before going in.

Salty water for a congested noise

Use drops of salty water in your nose to loosen congestion by making it easier to expel.
Salt solution - mix a cup (¼ litre) of warm water with ½ teaspoon of table salt.
Make a fresh mix every day and use a spray bottle or dropper bottle to apply it to the noise.

Typical dosage: Use as needed.

Herbs Cocktail

Herbs containing berberine (goldenseal, Oregon graperoot, gold thread and barberry) act as nature's antibiotics and as a mucous-membrane tonic.
Try to irrigate your nose with a cocktail of healing herbs and saline.
The herb cocktail - Simmer 2 tablespoons of herbs in a cup (¼ litre) of water for 10 minutes and strain. Add this liquid to the saline solution mentioned earlier.

Cold and Flu infusion

This is a traditional blend that can help improve immunity and alleviate the discomfort of a cold or flu.

  • 2 teaspoons echinacea leaf.
  • 2 teaspoons elder flowers .
  • 2 teaspoons yarrow leaves and flowers.
  • 1 teaspoons peppermint.

Mix in 700 milliliters of water with the above ingredients except for the peppermint leaves. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the peppermint. Cover again and leave for additional 10 minutes. Strain the herbs and discard.
The solution can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Typical dosage: Drink up to 3 cups of tea per day as needed.

Down to earth Cold and Flu Tea

This blend of herbs will fight viruses and bacteria while soothe the cold and flu symptoms.
Tea ingredients: Mix equal amounts of dried lemon, dried peppermint leaves, balm leaves, dried yarrow flowers and dried elder flowers. Store them away from heat and light in an airtight jar for up to a year.
The Tea: Mix a cup (¼ litre) of hot water with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the tea blend mentioned above. You may add ½ to 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger. Boil the water and remove from heat. infuse it for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and add honey and/or lemon (if needed).
Herb teas can include also rose hips, golden seal, chamomile, slippery elm, ginger, desert tea

Vitamins to help fight Cold and Flu

Research does support the use of at least two vitamin supplements before and during colds and flu attack.
Vitamin C - Few studies do agree, although not all have found that taking vitamin C can reduce your number of colds per year. Most studies showed that taking vitamin C will reduce the duration of colds by a third and will reduce the symptoms. You have nothing to loose, try to take as much as you can. It won’t kill you although during high usage it may lead to diarrhea.

Typical dosage: recommended dosage is 500 to 1,000 milligrams every two hours.

Caution: in the event of diarrhea, decrease the dose.

Zinc - A study on adults with colds found that people who took one zinc gluconate lozenge every two hours during their day, got better much faster. There was some complains of bad taste and nausea, but other than that there were no serious side effects.

Typical dosage: Such lozenges may be available without a prescription. Follow the manufacturer's directions for dosage, usually one lozenge every two hours while symptoms persist, but not longer than three or four days.

HERBAL REMEDIES

Echinacea

This family of plants is the one of the most researched herbs in conjunction with colds and flu. It helps the body fight colds and flu as soon as early symptoms appear. It increases the ability of immune cells to overcome and destroy invading microbes, stimulates activity of white blood cells and increases the production of antiviral substances in the body (i.e. interferon).
Echinacea will be effective only if taken frequently enough and with the right dosage.

Typical dosage:
Option 1: 1 teaspoon of liquid extract.
Option 2: 2 teaspoons of tincture (preferably made from the root).
Option 3: 900 milligrams of solid extract in capsules per day.
Split the daily total into six portions per day for the first two days, then reduce to three to four portions per day.

Caution: don't use Echinacea if you have multiple sclerosis, HIV infection or AIDS, or another autoimmune disease. In rare occasions, people with allergies to other members of the daisy family are also allergic to Echinacea.

Astragalus

This is an immune-boosting and antiviral Chinese herb. Astragalus may be taken for long periods before, during and after cold and flu season. Studies in China have found it effective in prevention of the common cold. It may be particularly useful in speeding recovery after an illness and in improving resistance to infection for people who are susceptive more than others to the cold and flu viruses.

Typical dosage:
Option 1: eight or nine capsules per day of 400 to 500 milligram
Option 2: 15 to 30 drops of tincture twice per day.

Ginseng and Siberian Ginseng

These Ginseng herbs are known as general health enhancers and as re-builders of the immune-system. They are ideal for long-term use.

Typical dosage: for Asian Ginseng:
Option 1: 100 milligrams of standardized products (usually standardized to 5 to 7 percent ginsenosides) one.
Option 2: two times per day or up to four capsules of 400 to 600 milligrams.

Caution: do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not combine with caffeine. Consult a doctor if you have high blood pressure, and before taking Panax Ginseng.
Discontinue use if you experience any one of these symptoms: nervousness, gastrointestinal upset or irritability.

Typical dosage: for Siberian Ginseng:
Option 1: Up to nine capsules per day of 400 to 500 milligrams.
Option 2: 20 drops of tincture up to three times per day.
Take it for up to three weeks and then take a break for one or two weeks.

Liquorice

Liquorice root increases interferon production in the body and stimulates creation of a few types of immune cells. It also assists in reducing inflammation.
It is recommended to use whole-root products.

Typical dosage:
Option 1: up to six capsules per day of 400 to 500 milligrams.
Option 2: 20 to 30 drops of tincture up to three times per day.

Caution: do not use for longer than six weeks.
People with high blood pressure, diabetes, or disease of the thyroid, kidney, liver or heart, and those taking corticosteroids should not take liquorice unless advised to do so by their doctor.
Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Elder flower

The tree's berries are known as tasty flu fighters. Their properties can inhibit the enzyme used by flu viruses to infiltrate our cell membranes.
Syrups and lozenges containing elderberry extract are commercially available and should be used as per dosage directions on the package.
The elder flowers are traditionally used in herbal tea blends to induce sweating during flu-induced fevers.
The Tea: Simmer 1 tablespoon of dried berries in a cup (½ litre) of hot water for 15 minutes, or infuse 2 teaspoons of dried flowers in a litre of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.

Typical dosage:
Option 1: up to six 500 to 600 milligrams capsules per day.
Option 2: up to 40 drops of tincture every 4 hours.
Option 3: up to 3 cups of tea per day.

Garlic

Garlic’s health benefits in combating cold and flu are many and the main one is improving the immune system and inhibiting or killing a large range of microbes.
Garlic contains antiseptic and antispasmodic properties. The oil contained in this vegetable helps to open up the respiratory passages. Research does show that garlic is active against viruses that cause colds and flues.
It is recommended that during the cold and flu season, to take garlic supplements and/or eat plenty of fresh garlic including also onion (The Garlic far relative).
Raw fresh garlic has the strongest effect as anti-microbial weapon.
For those of us that don't like it raw than add minced garlic at the end of cooking to preserve the active ingredients.
You can fight the garlic breath by chewing parsley leaves or fennel seeds after you ate garlic.

Typical dosage:
Option 1: one or more fresh garlic cloves per day.
Option 2: capsules that provide 4,000 to 5,000 micrograms of allicin per day.

Garlic soup – One cup a day can reduce the severity of a cold.
Boil three to four cloves of chopped garlic in a cup of water. In this soup form, it should wash out out all toxins from the body and consequently will help to bring down the fever.

Garlic and Onion drink – Add to a cup of water five drops of garlic oil, one teaspoon of onion juice. Drink two to three times a day.

St John's Wort

This plant often mentioned as a remedy for mild depression but is does have many other valuable qualities. According to studies, this flowering plant inhibits influenza viruses and para-influenza viruses (which produces flu-like symptoms), but unfortunately not the common cold viruses.
The Tea: infuse 1 teaspoon of dried herb in a cup of water (¼ litre) of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes, strain, let cool and drink.

Typical dosage:
Option 1: three times per day of 300 milligrams product that contains 0.3 per cent hypericin.
Option 2: 3 cups of tea per day.
Option 3: 15 to 40 drops of tincture up to three times per day.

Caution: may cause increased skin reactions to the sun.
Do not use if you take prescription antidepressants or L-dopa.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm fights a large range of bacteria types and also some viruses, including parainfluenza viruses. There is nice lemon and mint taste to teas and extracts made from the Lemon Balm leaves.
If one of your hobbies is gardening than consider growing lemon balm. It is easy to grow in most climates.
The Tea: infuse 2 to 4 teaspoons of the dried herb in a cup (¼ litre) of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes, strain and let it cool.

Typical dosage:
Option 1: up to nine capsules per day of 300 to 400 milligrams.
Option 2: l to 3 cups of tea per day.

Turmeric

This remedy is very effective on colds and throat irritations.
Half a teaspoon of Turmeric powder should be put into a hot ladle. Pour 30 ml of warm milk in it and boil over low heat.
When suffering from running noise, the patient should inhale the smoke from the burning turmeric. It will increase the discharge from the nose and provide quick relief.

Typical dosage: Drink once or twice daily, this is a useful prescription for these conditions.

Ephedra

This herb is a near relative to the over-the-counter well known drug - Sudafed. It acts as a respiratory decongestant while relaxing the airways.

Typical dosage: 15 to 30 drops of tincture in water up to four times per day.
For all other products, be exact in following the manufacturer's or practitioner's recommendations.

Caution: large doses can raise blood pressure and cause palpitations, nervousness, insomnia, nausea, flushing and headaches. Don't exceed the manufacturer's recommended dose when using herbal products that contains ephedra.
Don’t combine with caffeine or other stimulant herbs or drugs, or with MAO-inhibiting antidepressants.
Not recommended for people with a history of anorexia, glaucoma, thyroid disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, difficulty urinating due to prostate enlargement or long-term insomnia.
Do not use when you are pregnant.

Bitter Gourd Roots

The roots of this plant are used in traditional herbal medicine to cure a cold.
Ground the root to a paste. Mix one teaspoon of this paste with an equal amount of honey or holy basil leaf juice.

Typical dosage: once every night for a month will be an excellent medicine for colds.

Peppermint

Essential oil made from this herb is often included in commercial as nasal decongestants, throat lozenges, cough drops, inhalants. Menthol, a component of peppermint, can also relax the airways.
You can try placing a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil on your pillow or in a herbal steam.
When this essential oil applied externally, it will short-circuits the nerve transmission from the pain receptors, which means you can rub diluted peppermint oil on your temples to reduce headache.
You can also add 5 to 10 drops of peppermint oil to a bath.

Caution: be sure to keep it away from your eyes.

Lemon

Lemon is one of the most important home remedies for the common cold. It is helpful
in all types of cold with fever. The lemon juice is very rich with Vitamin C.
Squeeze one lemon in a glass and dilute with warm water. You may add a teaspoon of honey for flavor.

Typical dosage: one to two glasses per day.

Ginger

Ginger is another excellent remedy for colds and coughs. In addition to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, ginger also helps you cough up mucus and makes you feel warmer, which may help when you're chilled.
Ginger also blends well with traditional mulling spices and is an excellent condiment.
The Tea: simmer 1 teaspoon of grated fresh root in a cup of water for 10 minutes, strain and let cool.

Typical dosage:
Option 1: ½ teaspoon dried, powdered root per day added to food per day.
Option 2: teaspoon of the fresh ground root added to food per day.
Option 3: 3 cups of tea per day.
Option 4: up to eight capsules per day of 500 to 600 milligrams.
Option 5: 10 to 20 drops of tincture in water three times per day.

Caution: avoid ginger if you're feeling too warm or are running a fever.

Yarrow

These yellow flower has been used by herbalists for a long time as cold and flu remedy. It possesses anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and sweat- inducing properties.
Typically this herb is blended with elder flowers and peppermint.
The Tea: infuse 1 teaspoon of dried flowers in cup (¼ litre) of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes, strain and let cool.

Typical dosage:
Option 1: up to 3 cups of tea per day.
Option 2: 10 to 20 drops of tincture up to three times per day.

Caution: do not use if you are pregnant.

Tamarind and Pepper

Tamarind-pepper rasam (Indian soup)is viewed as an effective home herbal remedy for a cold in India.
Mix 50 mg tamarind in a cup of water. Boil the mix a few minutes with a teaspoon of hot clarified butter and half a teaspoon of black pepper powder.
This steaming hot rasam has a flushing effect the nose and eyes. They water and the nasal blockage is cleared.

Typical dosage: three times a day.

Boneset

This herb has a history for use to combat colds and flues. As with the Yarrow, it is used to induce sweating but it also reduces fever and eases body aches.

Typical dosage: look for Boneset in combination products and follow manufacturer's directions.

Caution: larger-than- recommended doses may induce vomiting.