12 Natural Ways to Fight a Cold

natural-ways-to-fight-a-cold

The cold and flu season is coming as we approach the autumn and winter months, bringing with it a host of chills, ills, and other problems. Highly contagious and annoyingly persistent, a cold is caused by more than 200 viruses present in our environment. [1] Although there’s no cure for the cold, there are many natural ways to soothe the symptoms it causes. Here are a few simple recommendations for making yourself more comfortable during cold and flu season.

1. Vitamin D

Boosting your levels of vitamin D has dozens of benefits, including amping up your body’s defenses against the common cold as well as the flu. [2] The vitamin, which is produced by the body in response to sunlight exposure, increases immune cell activity, reduces toxicity, and lowers the inflammatory response.

2. Zinc

Double-blind studies have shown that zinc reduces both the intensity and duration of the common cold by up to 50%. [3] Zinc also improves immunity and fights bacterial load within the body. [4] Common sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds and cashews.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a yellow and mellow-tasting spice highly prized for its use in Indian cuisine and natural medicine. You can find the root in its whole form at some specialty supermarkets, and the powder can also be found in most spice sections. It’s rich in antioxidants and may provide defense from harmful organisms that cause sickness. [5] [6] For a cold-fighting tea, place 1/4 tsp. of turmeric powder in eight ounces of hot water. Drink this mixture often throughout the autumn and winter seasons. As a gentle food, turmeric may also help soothe a sore throat. Simply combine 1/2 tsp. turmeric with 1 tbsp. of raw, local honey and consume slowly to coat the throat.

4. Echinacea

Echinacea is an herb that has seen continuous support in the natural health community. Some research suggests that it’s helpful for a healthy immune response; yet despite this research, many conventional medical professionals remain skeptical on the herb’s ability to keep a cold at bay. [7] [8] Animal models have shown that Echinacea provides compounds responsible for combating the cold before it starts. [9] [10]

5. Vitamin C

If you have a lingering cold that just won’t go away, or if you experience colds frequently throughout the year, chances are you are not getting enough vitamin C. This important, water-soluble nutrient is found in high amounts in green vegetables and citrus fruits and is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system. [11] Freshly-squeezed lemon juice is a great way to receive vitamin C in your diet. Consuming warm herbal tea with lemon juice during a cold or before one sets in may be helpful for defense.

6. Cinnamon

A warming circulatory stimulant, cinnamon is a powerful health-promoting spice with dozens of benefits for the body. Not only can it encourage healthy blood sugar levels, cinnamon has also been shown to boost the immune system and fight harmful organisms. [12] [13] Sip on some cinnamon tea when you feel the chills coming on, and sprinkle some cinnamon in your smoothies, breakfast foods, or coffee.

7. Oregano Essential Oil

Oil of oregano has been studied extensively for its natural action against harmful organisms. [14] A recent study from Georgetown University Medical Center found that oregano oil was the most beneficial essential oil for fighting infections. [15] If you have a cold, you can place a few drops of oregano essential oil in a vegetarian capsule and take daily.

8. Neem

The essential oil of the neem plant is very potent against harmful organisms. Used for centuries in India as a pesticide, neem oil can soothe irritation and fight invading organisms. [16]

9. Licorice Root

Traditional medicine has used licorice root for a variety of ailments, some proven and some yet to be studied. Research studies have indicated licorice as a potent immunomodulatory herb, possibly explaining its popularity in natural medicine. [17] [18] It has soothing properties and, when taken orally, may be helpful for sore throat.

10. Exercise

When you’re facing a cold or the flu, exercise may be the very last thing on your mind. Despite this, studies have reported significant improvements in immune function following exercise, making it one of the most natural (and free) ways to fight sickness. [19] [20] While mostly used as a preventative measure, you can still engage in exercise while enduring a minor cold. Only perform physical activity during an illness with the utmost care, and always seek the advice of your healthcare provider before engaging in strenuous activity if suffering from any kind of illness.

11. De-stress

It may seem like an easy thing to do, but pure relaxation is sometimes the most challenging thing to accomplish in today’s fast-paced world. Being overworked and highly stressed can interfere with your immune system and increase your susceptibility to getting a cold. Research has confirmed that stress, whether it is mental or physical, decreases the activity of the immune system and can lengthen the duration of illness. [21] Meditation, sleep, and simple breathing exercises can help decrease stress and improve the immune system.

12. Laugh!

A good, light-hearted laugh with friends or alone can help boost immune function, according to recent research. Breakthrough research in the power of emotion and immunity is showing just how powerful our intangible, invisible feelings are in maintaining our physical health. [22] Watch an uplifting comedy, recall funny moments in your past with loved ones, or read a joke book. Doing these simple things can certainly aid in keeping your body healthy during the cold and flu season.

Do you have any tried-and-true methods for naturally reducing a cold and its symptoms? We would love to hear about them in the comments!

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. National Institute of Health. Common Cold: Cause. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Fact Sheet.
  2. J. J. Cannell, R. Vieth, [...], and E. Giovannucci. Epidemic influenza and vitamin D. Epidemiology and Infection. December 2006; 134(6): 1129-1140.
  3. Harri Hemilä. Zinc Lozenges May Shorten the Duration of Colds: A Systematic Review. The Open Respiratory Medicine Journal. 2011; 5: 51-58.
  4. H Babich and G Stotzky. Toxicity of zinc to fungi, bacteria, and coliphages: influence of chloride ions. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. December 1978; 36(6): 906-914.
  5. Chinampudur V. Chandrasekaran, Kannan Sundarajan, [...], and Amit Agarwal. Immune-stimulatory and anti-inflammatory activities of Curcuma longa extract and its polysaccharide fraction. Pharmacognosy Research. 2013 April-June; 5(2): 71-79.
  6. Apisariyakul A, Vanittanakom N, Buddhasukh D. Antifungal activity of turmeric oil extracted from Curcuma longa (Zingiberaceae). Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 1995 December 15;49(3): 163-9.
  7. Dapas B, Dall’Acqua S, Bulla R, Agostinis C, Perissutti B, Invernizzi S, Grassi G, Voinovich D. Immunomodulation mediated by a herbal syrup containing a standarized Echinacea root extract: A pilot study in healthy human subjects on cytokine gene expression. Phytomedicine. 2014 May 27. pii: S0944-7113(14)00221-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2014.04.034.
  8. Kim HR, Oh SK, Lim W, Lee HK, Moon BI, Seoh JY. Immune enhancing effects of Echinacea purpurea root extract by reducing regulatory T cell number and function. Natural Product Communication. 2014 April;9(4):511-4.
  9. Bany J, Siwicki AK, Zdanowska D, Sokolnicka I, Skopinska-Rozewska E, Kowalczyk M. Echinacea purpurea stimulates cellular immunity and anti-bacterial defence independently of the strain of mice. Polish Journal of Veterinary Sciences. 2003;6(3 Suppl):3-5.
  10. Senchina DS, Martin AE, Buss JE, Kohut ML. Effects of Echinacea extracts on macrophage antiviral activities. Phytotherapy Research. 2010 Jun;24(6):810-6. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2991.
  11. Strohle A, Hahn A. Vitamin C and immune function. Medizinische Monatsschrift für Pharmazeuten. 2009 February;32(2):49-54; quiz 55-6.
  12. Alam Khan MS, PHD, Mahpara Safdar, MS, Mohammad Muzaffar Ali Khan, MS, PHD, Khan Nawaz Khattak, MS and Richard A. Anderson, PHD. Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. December 2003, vol. 26 no. 12 3215-3218. doi: 10.2337/diacare.26.12.3215.
  13. Yutaka Orihara, Hiroshi Hamamoto, Hiroshi Kasuga, Toru Shimada, Yasushi Kawaguchi and Kazuhisa Sekimizu. A silkworm-baculovirus model for assessing the therapeutic effects of antiviral compounds: characterization and application to the isolation of antivirals from traditional medicines. Journal of General Virology. January 2008, vol. 89 no. 1 188-194. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.83208-0.
  14. Royo M, Fernandez-Pan I, Mate Jl. Antimicrobial effectiveness of oregano and sage essential oils incorporated into whey protein films or cellulose-based filter papers. Journal of the Science of Food and Agricultural. 2010 July;90(9):1513-9. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.3977.
  15. Faleiro L, Miguel G, Gomes S, Costa L, Venancio F, Teixeira A, Figueiredo AC, Barroso JG, Pedro LG. Antibacterial and antioxidant activities of essential oils isolated from Thymbra capitata L. (Cav.) and Origanum vulgare L. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2005 October 19;53(21):8162-8.
  16. Marc Schumacher, Claudia Cerella, [...], and Marc Diederich. Anti-inflammatory, pro-apoptotic, and anti-proliferative effects of a methanolic neem (Azadirachta indica) leaf extract are mediated via modulation of the nuclear factor-kB pathway. Genes and Nutrition. May 2011; 6(2): 149-160.
  17. Adel M. Aly, Laith Al-Alousi, and Hatem A. Salem. Licorice: A possible anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer drug. AAPS PharmSciTech. March 2005; 6(1): E74-E82.
  18. Mengyue Wang, Min Zhang, [...], and Xiaobo Li. Influence of Honey-Roasting on the Main Pharmacological Activities and the Water-Soluble Active Glycosides of Licorice. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines. 2012; 9(2): 189-196.
  19. Brolinson PG, Elliott D. Exercise and the immune system. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. 2007 July;26(3):311-9.
  20. Nehlsen-Cannarella SL, Nieman DC, Balk-Lamberton AJ, Markoff PA, Chritton DB, Gusewitch G, Lee JW. The effects of moderate exercise training on immune response. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1991, 23(1):64-70.
  21. Suzanne C. Segerstrom and Gregory E. Miller. Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychological bulletin. July 2004; 130(4): 601-630.
  22. Mary Payne Bennett and Cecile Lengacher. Humor and Laughter May Influence Health IV. Humor and Immune Function. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. June 2009; 6(2): 159-164.

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  • Synick46

    Most “cinnamon” available today is in truth, cassia. It may be important to make sure you are getting real cinnamon when using it for health reasons.

  • Milton

    HOT BATH- When the “feeling” of a cold is coming on, head for the bath tub. Take as hot a bath as you can stand. Soak in the heat. Breathe in the vapor. Stay as long as you can. When done properly, you will be sweating profusely when you exit. Several towels may be necessary to actually dry off.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    This is a fantastic suggestion. If you have a sauna or steam room available, that’s even better.

  • Robert

    Although somewhat pricey, black elderberry extract chased with orange juice has been very effective on more than one occasion. All natural and no side effects. Cheers.

  • Dr. Truth

    Dr. Group is not a naturopathic doctor, only a chiropractor. His knowledge of botanical formulations is quite limited. Please understand that a naturopathic doctor has attended a 4 year medical school that is accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME). These schools include: Southwest College of Natural Medicine (SCNM), National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM), Bastyr University, University of Bridgeport School of Naturopathic Medicine, National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) and Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine. Dr. Group attended none of the previously listed medical institutions. Please remove this comment because you care only for the money that the general public naively pays Global Healing Center by taking advantage of their lack of knowledge of who is a legitimate practitioner of naturopathic medicine.

  • Pingback: 3 Ways Astragalus Root Promotes Youth from the Inside Out | secrets-1.com

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