Did you know?

  • Colds are the leading cause of doctor visits and school absenteeism.
  • Over the counter cough and cold medication sales will be more than £500 million per year
  • Most adults get 2-3 colds each year
  • Most children get 6-10 colds each year
  • In test tubes, zinc has been shown to prevent cold viruses from reproducing themselves Symptoms of the common cold are caused by more than 200 different viruses
  • Many teas, both normal and herbal, contain a substance called tannic acid or tannins. This is a dehydrator and causes your body to lose water. These teas should be avoided when you have cold or flu symptoms.
  • Echinacea and Goldenseal are 2 common herbal supplements that can help alleviate symptoms of cold or flu infection.

Samantha Goodchild, homeopath, gives us her tips for naturally combating the coughs and colds doing the rounds.

Self care techniques for colds and flu

1) Rest and listen to your body. If you feel the need to rest or sleep, do so. Though regular exercise can boost your immune system, during a cold or flu it may be wise to lighten or skip your usual workout or exercise programme depending on the severity of your condition.

2) Drink plenty of water. Drink one half your body weight in ounces of water every day. For example, a 200 pound man should drink 100 ounces of water daily. When you have a cold or flu, increase that number by 20%. You can also drink clear soup broths or diluted vegetable juices.

3) Minimise sugar intake. Sugar, even if derived from natural sources like fruit juice and honey (very concentrated amounts of sugar), can impair immune function. Keep sugar to a maximum of 50g per day.

4) Suck on zinc tablets or lozenges. Zinc is a nutrient which can help the immune system function. A zinc gluconate lozenge every 2 waking hours may help eliminate some symptoms and cut the duration of the cold. Discontinue the zinc after one week if symptoms persist.

5) Maintain a positive attitude. At the most, your cold or flu will last 3-7 days, so follow these guidelines and allow your body to fix itself.

6) Numerous studies link vitamin D and influenza, as well as vitamin D and respiratory infections more generally. This vitamin up-regulates genetic expression of various endogenous antimicrobial peptides (AMP), which exhibit broad-spectrum microbicidal activity against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These studies indicate that susceptibility to influenza is reduced with higher levels of sun exposure or vitamin D supplementation. Seasonal variation of vitamin D levels in humans can help explain the seasonality of flu epidemics.

7) Get rid of germs. When you cough and sneeze it spreads the disease, so always wash your hands and throw dirty tissues/hankies away immediately. Blowing your nose too regularly is now thought to irritate and inflame the nasal passageways increasing the production of mucus and discomfort.

Samantha recommends the following  homeopathic remedies for certain symptoms of a cold/cough.

“For mild coughs or colds there are simple supplements you can take to deal with the symptoms. Echinacea tincture (30 drops per day in water for up to 7 days); Vitamin C (2000mg per day for up to 7 days) and Zinc (25mg per day) are all useful at seeing off symptoms. Homeopathy can be really effective against more severe coughs and colds if you choose the right remedy. There are numerous remedies to choose from and the trick is finding a remedy that is very similar to the symptoms. If you are treating a member of your family, it’s best not to rush it, but make some careful observations about their symptoms, think about when the symptoms came on and how quickly, and notice the person’s emotional state. These observations will give you vital clues to the remedy which will be most helpful to them. Choose the remedy that is most similar, it doesn’t have to be 100% but look for 3 good symptoms that match”.

Remedy

“It’s best to give the remedy two to three times per day at regular intervals away from food or drink. Your patient should improve within 24 to 48 hours. If no improvement, then look for the next best remedy. If they are improving or say they feel better, keep up the remedy for the next 2 days, and then stop. You can call me on 01273 264179 for a telephone consultation including remedies (cost is £15 which includes remedies and any post and packing) or ring the clinic on 01273 206868 to book an appointment”.

Common remedies and their key symptoms are:

Bryonia 30C (severely painful dry cough, must hold chest when coughing, worse for any movement, very thirsty for cold drinks).

Rumex 30C ( tickling, irritated coughs, worse in the cold air, cough starts when either leaving or entering a warm room – need to keep mouth covered with scarf in the cold air).

Spongia 30C (Barking, croupy cough, feels better eating or drinking).

Arsenicum 30C (Burning pains in throat – soothed by warm drinks. Will drink only in small sips. Restless. This patient may make a huge fuss over their symptoms which seems disproportionate to the problem. Classic ‘man-flu’!).

Pulsatilla 30C (Cold comes on after getting feet wet or having been out in the wet / rain. Thick, bland, yellow/green nasal discharges. Worse in stuffy, warm rooms. Sweet, clingy, needy – they’ll like hugs and being looked after. May alternate between needy and irritable).

Hepar Sulph 30C (usually given in the later stages of a cold when nasal discharge becomes thick, yellow and unpleasant. Sticking pain – sensation of a fishbone or splinter in the throat. Pain goes up the ear on swallowing. Want to be wrapped up warm and almost hugging the radiator. Oversensitive, bad-tempered, very sensitive to cold, draughts, touch and noise).

Gelsemium 30C (Classic British flu which comes on in mild, damp, humid weather; comes on gradually and they may feel unwell over a few days. Droopy eyelids / heavy look with watery nasal discharge. Headache and heavy feeling in limbs and eyelids. Dull, drowsy, dizzy and may have shaky or trembling legs or hands from the slightest exertion).

Eupatorium Perfoliatum 30C (Flu with severe, unbearable aching and pains that go right down to the bone. Bursting headache. Shivering and chills).

Now it’s your turn- what did your grandmother tell you to do when you had a cold? Mine said I would catch a cold if I went out with wet hair! Her home remedy would be to have honey and lemon in hot water, with some good old chicken soup. Put your comments below and we’ll bash the old housewives tales out…..