Written by Dr. Kai Herman
“No cure for the common cold” refers to the lack of pharmaceutical treatments able to resolve simple upper respiratory infections. In actuality, there is a “cure” for the common cold; it’s called your immune system. Our immune systems are designed to identify and defend against viral invasions, thus resolving the infection and ending bothersome symptoms within 1-2 weeks. Many people, however, opt for the drug- store fix, utilizing over-the-counter decongestants, anti-histamines, cough suppressants, and anti-fever medications to lessen symptoms and help them function through a bothersome cold. In short durations, these medications can effectively reduce cold symptoms, but they often do so by interfering with and impeding the immune reaction. As a result, these OTC medications can often cause a simple viral infection to persist longer than the expected 1-2 weeks. Utilized for more than 2-3 days, these commonly used OTC cold medications can lead to the development of unwanted side effects, such as dizziness, stomach upset, dry nose and mouth, heart rate irregularities, anxiety, and grogginess, just to name a few.
Naturopaths take an opposite approach to cold care. Treatment goals include supporting the immune process, lessening symptom severity without symptom suppression, and addressing underlying causes of frequent infections. With any cold, basic treatment guidelines include encouraging ample rest and increasing fluid intake. In addition to these recommendations, there are several supportive therapies that naturopaths utilize to help shorten the duration of illness, lessen symptoms, and get you back to work without undermining your immune system:
1. IV Immune Therapy: IV Immune Therapy works by introducing essential immune nutrients directly into the blood system, allowing easy access to the immune system, where these nutrients optimize immune function. IV solutions contain key anti-viral nutrients, such as Vitamin C and Zinc, and energy promoting nutrients, such as B vitamins, which immediately boost energy levels while helping fight the infection.
2. Botanical medicine: Common herbs, such as Garlic, Ginger, Echinacea, are very effective at enhancing the immune response, contain anti-viral compounds, and support long term health. Herbal extracts are delivered in various forms, including liquid tinctures, teas, gargles, and spray, which help direct the herbs to the most beneficial locations.
3. Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy involves the use of hot and cold water to influence blood and lymphatic circulation to and from the source of infection. Hydrotherapy treatments, such as “warming socks” and sinus rinses, help drain congestive fluids from the head, promote immune system circulation and improve sleep.
4. Probiotic supplementation: A significant portion of our immune system resides in our gastrointestinal tract and is regulated by the flora which live there. Probiotic supplementation helps populate our digestive tract with “good bacteria,” which is imperative for a healthy and strong immune response. Studies have shown that regular probiotic supplementation is associated with reduced cold frequency.
5. Therapeutic Diets: During a cold, temporarily reducing calories while maximizing nutrient intake with immune supportive broths helps reduce additional stress on the body and maximizes immune response.
Colds are extremely common this time of year. Supportive cold care treatments are most effective when administered at the first signs of illness. Seeking out treatment early will help ensure a speedy and more comfortable recovery!