The Common Cold – A Naturopath’s Perspective

  • Tara Andresen

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Colds can be caused by more than two hundred different viruses that infect upper respiratory tract. Cold viruses are spread through the air, by sneezing, coughing or touching a contaminated object. In response to the invasion of the cold virus, the membranes that line the nose and throat swell up and produce mucous. This results in congestion, sneezing, sore throat, coughing and fatigue – which are all ways that your body tries to expel the virus.

Naturopathic treatment for a cold virus focuses on stimulating your body’s natural defense mechanisms as soon as initial cold symptoms start to appear. Once the virus has firmly taken hold, a naturopath will prescribe treatments that have antiviral activity and stimulate your immune system to eradicate the virus.

Most colds last three to ten days. If possible, it is better not to take over the counter cold medications because the cold symptoms are your immune system’s attempt to flush out the virus. Medications that suppress these symptoms can actually prolong your cold.

Naturopathic treatment and prevention of colds includes dietary changes as well as nutrient and herbal supplementation. Dietary changes include avoiding sugar and dairy products while sick. Sugar decreases the number of white blood cells that your body produces and depresses your immune system. In addition to cane sugar, fruit juices should also be avoided since they usually contain too much sugar in the form of fructose. Dairy products should be avoided while sick because they support mucous production which will worsen symptoms.

In addition to dietary changes, there are a number of nutrients that can help prevent getting a cold. These include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc and Vitamin A. Vitamin C supports immune function through increased white blood cell activity, zinc supports the immune system and may have antiviral effects.

There are a number of herbal medicines that are frequently recommended to prevent and treat the common cold. Some of these include oregano oil, Echinacea, garlic, Thymus Extract and Ginseng. These herbs have strong antiviral properties and boost white blood cells to fight off colds.

To find out more about preventing and treating colds , contact local Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Andresen at one of her Toronto Naturopathic Clinics.