Prevention is the best medicine
If you take care of your body, your immune system will be more able to handle whatever cold season throws at it. This means doing all the things we probably know we should do: getting adequate sleep, bundling up when going outside in the cold, and consistently eating a balanced diet.
When we fall short dietarily, Vitamin C and Zinc are good immune supportive supplements to consider. Vitamin C is found in many plant sources, particularly citrus fruits, but is also available as an over the counter tablet. Vegetarians and vegans may find they have trouble getting enough zinc in their daily diet, and may want to consider supplementing regularly.
Keep in mind that regular acupuncture treatment keeps the body balanced and has immune regulating effects. If you find that you tend to get sick frequently, be sure to mention it to your acupuncturist on your next visit.
Drink plenty of fluids
Increasing fluid consumption is one of the simplest and under-rated ways to shorten the duration of a cold.
Non-caffeinated fluids are an essential part of recovery from illness. Water flushes out the system, and keeps body tissues supple. Adequate water thins mucous secretions. It is essential for removing cellular debris, and maintaining proper cellular function. It is also necessary for assimilating vitamins (vitamins B an C are among the water soluble vitamins) that boost the immune system.
Steam from hot or warm fluids has the added benefit of opening up the nasal passages. Peppermint or chrysanthemum tea are both widely available good choices for cold care. Tea blends with licorice can further soothe a sore throat and mildly suppress a dry cough.
See your natural health provider for herbal treatment
Traditional East Asian medicine has always taken the treatment of colds very seriously. The ancients knew well that an untreated cold could morph into a more serious illness if left untreated. Herbal soups and teas were prescribed based upon patient symptoms (chills or fever or both? dry cough or thick sputum?) but with particular attention paid to the patient’s constitutional ability to fight disease.
Many of these ancient herbal formulas are now tested by modern research and can be prescribed to you by an herbal practitioner. For example, honeysuckle and Forsythia is a traditional herbal pairing commonly found in many of our herbal formulations for initial stages of upper-respiratory type infections. It has since been discovered to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. These two herbs are synergistic—they have stronger effect in combination than alone. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4497423/
Many acupuncturists are trained and board certified in herbal medicine and can recommend herbal formulations to lessen the severity or duration of your symptoms when you are under the weather. Both providers at Rutland Integrative Health are dually licensed in both acupuncture and herbal medicine! www.rutlandintegrativehealth.com
Use a Neti pot (nasal irrigation)
A neti pot is one of the most effective ways you can lessen post-nasal drip. Originating from the Indian subcontinent, it is a way of flushing out the nasal passages with a saline solution. For some, it takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s effectiveness generally wins people over. Just think of it as good hygiene for the nasal passages.
If you’ve never seen one, a neti pot looks kind of like a watering can or a teapot. It is filled with a warm salt water solution, and placed against one nostril with the head tilted. Water goes in one nostril and comes out the other, washing out excess nasal secretions with it.
Using your neti pot at the first sign of congestion or itchy throat may help prevent a more serious sinus or throat infection by washing out infected mucus before it drips down the back of your throat and spreads infection.
Keep your neti pot around for allergy season too, as the nasal irrigation process can physically wash the pollen/allergens out of your nose. http://www.webmd.com/allergies/neti-pots#1
As always, we are here to support you on your way to better health.
Written by Beth Bloomfield, L.AC., MS