of your whole self you should know:
Over the counter drugs that are designed to eliminate the symptoms of the cold -
ease congestion, stop the cough, soothe the sore throat - actually interfere with the
body's protective immune responses. The condition may seem to get better because
of the masking of the symptoms, but actually all that has happened is that the body's
natural immune response has been curtailed. Over the counter cold remedies do
nothing to fight cold viruses or boost the immune responses so they can have little
effect on the duration of colds.
Of the five antihistamines commonly used to treat colds, research shows that only
one of them may actually help dry a runny nose.
Researchers have found that over the counter drugs may have no benefit for
Decongestants can produce side effects like jitters and insomnia.
Mucus, tears, and saliva are saturated with IgA antibodies. Mucus is a genetically
engineered antibiotic substance that contains specific antibodies to your current
infection. Thus when you take an over the counter decongestant that dries mucus
secretions during a cold or flu you may be reducing your immune responses and
contributing to lengthening the duration of your infection. It's better to take
substances that thin and liquefy the mucus and keep it flowing freely with plenty of
Herbs like licorice may deal with excess mucus through a moistening action, loosening
mucus and making it flow more readily out of the body. Other herbs that may help to
do this include marshmallow and slippery elm.
Echinacea and Goldenseal are probably the most frequently used herbs for colds and
flu in the United States:
Clinically Echinacea is not generally considered to be a major herb for working with
the flu although it is often used as an auxiliary herb. Research suggest that Echinacea
may be particularly helpful at the onset of a cold or flu. If taken early enough in the
appropriate dosages it may contribute to heading off a cold or flu.
Once the cold is well established, though, Echinacea by itself is not the most effective
herbal approach. After the cold or flu has taken hold Echinacea continues to be useful
in combination with other herbs and it helps shorten the duration and severity of the
infection. By itself Echinacea is not usually sufficient to knock out a cold or flu.
Taking Goldenseal in the early stages of a cold or flu may actually make the condition
worse by drying up the mucus membranes. This inhibits the mucus, saturated with
antibodies to fight the bacteria, virus or other microbes, from working.
Clinically Goldenseal is used for subacute and chronic infections of the mucus
membranes but it is not usually thought to be appropriate for use in the acute stage.
Goldenseal works as a cleanser and anti-inflammatory. It can be helpful at very
specific times in very specific doses in a cold. But there is not a single study that
shows that Goldenseal works as a cold fighter.
Even better cold & flu herbs:
Black elder is another traditional herbal remedy that has been shown that it may have
good effects on the flu. A recent clinical trail showed that a preparation of black elder
ended cases of the flu within three days and also boosted the immune system
responses. Oregon grape can be used as a contemporary substitute for Goldenseal
and may be much better than even Echinacea for use with the common cold.
Peppermint contains compounds that can relax the airways and open congested
sinuses and nasal passages.
Ginger appears to fight inflammation and pain. It also appears to acts as an
expectorant and have warming effects that can be helpful if you are chilled.
Yarrow fights inflammation and muscle spasm and promotes sweating. It has long
been used against colds and flu.
Thyme is an expectorant and appears to fight microbes. Its flavonoids may help
decrease smooth muscle spasm which may assists in opening tight airways.
Mullen is a demulcent which contains mucilagous substances that coat and soothe
irritated respiratory linings. It may help to loosen a cough and fight viruses.
More natural herbal remedies:
St. John's Wort has been shown in test tubes studies to inhibit influenza A viruses and
parainfluenza virus but not rhinovirus (a cold virus). Osha has traditionally been used
in the Rocky Mountains as the most important plant for treating respiratory infections.
Osha is used extensively to treat colds, flu, and bronchial infections. The tincture or
tea is antibacterial.
Boneset is used as a traditional remedy for the flu. Traditionally, Boneset was used as
a major remedy for the flu, fevers, and as a general tonic. It has been used to treat
both acute and chronic conditions. In one study the immune stimulating
polysaccharides in Boneset were found to be ten times more potent than Echinacea
An herbal bath may be an effective remedy for easing cold symptoms and increasing
immune responses. It may help to nip them in the bud. During the bath the essential
oils of the herbs are released by the hot water. These oils are believed to be absorbed
through the pores of the skin and through the nose and mouth mucus membranes.
Absorption through the mucus membranes may bring the oils into contact with the
upper respiratory tract where they are able to exert their antibacterial effects.
Copyright (c) 2008 Mary Ann Copson
About The Author
Mary Ann Copson is the founder of Evenstar Herbs and the Evenstar Mood & Energy
Wellness Center for Women. With Master's Degrees in Human Development and
Psychology and Counseling, Mary Ann is a Certified Licensed Nutritionist; Certified
Holistic Health Practitioner; Brain Chemistry Profile Clinician. There is a special section
of cold and flu remedies in the Evenstar Herbal Products Catalog.
Herbal Remedies to Beat Colds and the Flu
by Mary Ann Copson
Our approach to colds and the flu
is comprehensive and holistic.
Just as in our most
comprehensive and integral
health and wellness programs, it
works best to look at the whole
person, taking into account
many different aspects of
wellness health care and then
nourish and support the body's
own natural means of keeping
If you've been interested in a
more natural approach to colds
and flu and in taking better care
|Copyright © EveryNutrient.com
|These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The content on
this website is for educational purposes only. Please consult with your physician before using natural
remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise program.
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