by David Greenwalt
The premise of the book “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty” is essentially to prepare in advance rather than react in panic with things you know are going to occur.
The cold and flu season is here and a good part of what I’m about to share is about setting yourself up ahead of time for fewer colds throughout the year or at least fewer symptoms and lethargy when you get one.
I don’t have time to be sick and neither do you. By treating a cold quickly, in its early stages, you’ll be in and out of your cold in seven days or less.
It’s common to get one to two colds per year, however, if you get more than two or they seem to linger for more than seven days at a crack you may have a weak immune system or you may need to look at allergies more in depth. Even if you’ve never been allergic to airborne allergens or foods you can develop allergies at any age.
There’s No Cure So Why Bother?
You might be thinking “But there’s no cure for the cold and no matter what it’ll take 7 or so days for it to end.” The “tee hee” “ha ha” saying is “Treat a cold it’ll end in about 7 days, don’t treat a cold and it’ll end in about a week.”
Here’s where people are ignorant or flat-out stupid — usually it’s the former.
While there are over 200 varieties of “colds” out there and there is no official CURE for any of them what we are looking for are less symptoms and a shorter period when we feel ANY symptoms.
We achieve our goal by strengthening our immune system to fight the cold and by using over-the-counter (OTC) meds to manage symptoms. Many people JUST use OTC meds to mask symptoms. This alone doesn’t do much to assist the immune system to truly fight off the virus causing the cold. If your nose is running constantly and you use some OTC med to dry up your nose you’ve really done little to nothing positive to strengthen your immune system to truly fight off the cold in the shortest possible time.
It’s not uncommon for a “cold” to mutate into something more aggressive and longer holding that eventually creates a need for the person to see a doctor and possibly receive antibiotics or other drugs for symptom management (upper respiratory-tract infection to say the least). Doing NOTHING when you have a cold is not, in my opinion, the best course of action.
By doing nothing to strengthen your immune system my proposition is there is no guarantee the cold will only last the 7 days it’s supposed to. And I DO propose most people will feel worse during the 7 days their cold is running its course. By strengthening your immune system and treating symptoms so you don’t feel so bad during the high part of the cold you can feel symptom free in 2-3 days. If you FEEL true relief in 2-3 days WHO CARES if the actual cold virus is still running its course for another 4-5 days.
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound?” If the virus of a cold is present but you aren’t feeling symptoms does it really matter if the cold finishes it’s run? Not to me.
What I’ve found in myself, my family and my thousands of clients is those who do what I suggest in this document or anything remotely similar experience LESS symptoms overall, less severity of symptoms, and a shorter period where symptoms are felt — usually 2-4 days rather than 7 to God knows what if it mutates into something bigger and nastier.
So — while I’d agree it doesn’t necessarily CURE the common cold I really don’t care. Just let me feed my body properly, supplement properly to support my immune system and help me to feel it less overall and for a shorter period of time and I’m happy. And that’s what my cold remedy suggestion will help you do.
Preventing A Cold
There are many things you can do to create an uninviting environment for bacteria and viruses. The base of my anti-cold plan includes the following perls:
- Wash your hands with warm, soapy water frequently
- Do not touch your nose or eyes after coming into contact with someone with a cold
- Eat a mixed, low-fat nutrition plan with plenty of vegetables and fruits,
- Get seven to eight hours of sleep every night,
- Keep stress in check (identify your stressors and make real lifestyle changes to create less stress and to become more stress-hearty)
- Be active three to six days per week exercising 30-60 minutes per day
- Take a complete, multi-vitamin/mineral supplement every day
The common cold is caused by any one of over two hundred different viruses that infect the oral and nasal passages and the sinuses. The symptoms of a cold are well known: fever, headaches, nasal congestion, sore throat and/or generalized malaise. (You feel like crap but not like you want to die. That’s the flu.)
At The First Signs Of A Cold
In addition to the basics above, once a cold has taken hold I recommend the following at a minimum:
- Drink eight ounces of water every hour,
- Consume diluted vegetable juices, soups and herb teas.
- Avoid sugar, including natural sugars such as honey, orange juice and fructose, because simple sugars depress the immune system.
- Bump up your vitamin C intake to 500mg to 1000mg every hour with a glass of water and bioflavonoids at 1000mg per day.
- Reduce or eliminate dairy since it can increase mucus production.
- Take the herb Echinacea. Echinacea is probably second to vitamin C overall in public popularity for evading a full blown seven day cold because of its antiviral properties and overall immune system support.
- Take zinc lozenges within first 24 hours of cold symptoms ( http://coldeeze.com/ )
- Take Umcka by Natures Way (active ingredient: Pelargonium sidoides)
Two of the most popular products in health-food stores for the common cold are Organic Sambucus (bio-certified elderberry) and Umcka by Natures Way. Products don’t CONTINUE to sell incredibly well unless a preponderance of the population trying them notice something.
Family Physicians Inquiries Network Recommendations
According to the respected, science-based and conservative, Family Physicians Inquiries Network (FPIN):
- “Pelargonium sidoides, Echinacea purpurea, and intranasal saline may be used for symptoms of the common cold. A liquid preparation of the herb P. sidoides may slightly reduce the duration of sputum production and cough in adults and children with acute bronchitis.” See the Umcka product above by Natures Way.
- “Oral zinc can be given therapeutically to shorten cold duration and severity, and can be taken prophylactically to reduce the risk of colds. Therapeutic use of oral zinc reduces the duration and severity of colds when taken within 24 hours of symptom onset. Prophylactic use of oral zinc reduces the incidence of cold, school and work absences, and antibiotic prescriptions. Adverse effects, such as bad taste and nausea, are common.” See Cold Eeze as one brand.
- “Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should not be used for acute cold symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs reduce pain associated with the common cold, but do not shorten cold duration or overall respiratory symptom scores.”
- “Antihistamines and antibiotics should not be used”
- “Over-the-counter preparations should not be used in children younger than six years because they are more likely to produce harm than benefit.”
- “High-dose vitamin C does not prevent colds, but when used prophylactically it reduces the duration of colds by 8% and reduces cold symptoms, especially in children.”
- “Therapeutic use of Echniacea purpurea may improve cold symptoms in adults, but the evidence is inconsistent.” My favorite brand is Natures Answer and I use the no-alcohol liquid tincture. You’ll want to squirt it into some orange juice unless you’ve got hair on your chest – then you can just squirt the dropper directly into your mouth.
More on echinacea
According to the NYU Langone Medical Center…
Until the 1930s, echinacea was the number one cold and flu remedy in the United States. It lost its popularity with the arrival of sulfa antibiotics. Ironically, sulfa antibiotics are as ineffective against colds as any other antibiotic, while echinacea does seem to be at least somewhat helpful. In Germany, echinacea remains the main remedy for minor respiratory infections.
There are three main species of echinacea: Echinacea purpurea , Echinacea angustifolia , and Echinacea pallida . A mixture containing all the parts of E purpurea above the ground (flowers, leaves, stems) has the best supporting evidence for effectiveness in treating colds and flus; the root of E. purpurea is probably not effective, while the root of E. pallida may be the active part of that species.
Echinacea has shown promise for reducing the symptoms and duration of colds and aborting a cold once it has started. However, echinacea does not appear to be helpful for preventing colds. It may also not be effective in children.
Zinc lozenges have also been shown to reduce the time to recovery and severity of cold symptoms, however, not all research is supportive. Zinc exhibits antiviral activity against the viruses that cause the common cold. The recommended dose, based on positive studies, is 23mg of elemental zinc dissolved in the mouth every two waking hours after an initial double dose. Do not take zinc lozenges longer than one week as directed above. It is recommended that zinc be taken with food to prevent nausea. While a positive immunostimulatory effect is observed in the short term, using zinc at the above dose for longer than one week may lead to immunosuppression. One week and quit.
I’ve already talked about one herb, echinacea, which works fantastically when you feel a cold coming on but what about some others? Many herbs have significant antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. However, herbs are much more than ‘natural’ antibiotics. Several herbs have shown remarkable effects in stimulating our own immune mechanisms. Modern research is upholding what herbal practitioners have believed for thousands of years- herbs work with our body’s systems to promote health.
Other immune-system supportive herbs include Goldenseal, Licorice and Astragalus root. Providing the history, all uses and precise mechanisms (most of which still remain to be elucidated) is beyond the scope of this simple cold remedy article. Use all herbs as directed on the product label.
O.K., you’ve got a cold and you’re taking a good multi-vitamin, extra vitamin C with bioflavonoids, and you’re taking echinacea at the very least. If you really want to try and shorten the duration of this cold you’re taking zinc lozenges, goldenseal and astragalus as well. You’re resting whenever you can, getting plenty of sleep, drinking lots of clear liquids and letting the cold run its short course.
Is there anything else you can or should do? According to the Prescription for Nutritional Healing authors you should add garlic capsules as well. Garlic has been shown to be a natural antibiotic and immune system enhancer.
Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that alter the intestinal flora. They have been shown to enhance immune function, prevent antibiotic-induced diarrhea, and relieve vaginal yeast infections. A few studies of healthy adults indicates that supplementing with probiotics might reduce the duration of the common cold and decrease the number of days with fever during a cold episode.
According to the Mayo Clinic website… “Chicken soup might help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, possibly helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining.”
I must admit – I will often add one bowl of Campbells chicken noodle soup to my day if I have a full-blown cold raging. I’ve always thought of it this way – it may not help but it won’t hurt and it is a soothing food that “feels” right when I have a cold.
I have also personally experienced great results in reducing the frequency of my own colds and my family’s with the aid of a hepa-filter air purification system. If your house is heated by gas/ forced-air then I’d suggest you contact your local heating and cooling experts about a filter especially designed for reducing air impurities or tell them you’re looking for a filter to reduce allergens your normal house filter doesn’t catch. If your house is heated or cooled by other than a whole house unit and each room is individually heated or cooled then I highly recommend the Holmes brand of hepa filtration available at many large department stores. These units are circular and pull air in from 360 degrees. Whether you go with a whole house or individual air purification unit, a hepa-based filter system can make a substantial difference in your winter and summer health through reductions in air-borne allergens.
Use A Cool-Mist Humidifier
According to the Mayo Clinic …
Dry sinuses, bloody noses and cracked lips — humidifiers can help soothe these familiar problems caused by dry indoor air. Humidifiers can also help ease symptoms of a cold or another respiratory condition.
But be cautious — while humidifiers can be useful, they can actually make you sick if they aren’t maintained properly or if humidity levels stay too high. If you do use humidifiers, play it safe: Monitor humidity levels and keep your humidifier clean — dirty humidifiers can breed mold or bacteria that can make you sick. If you have allergies or asthma, talk to your doctor before using a humidifier.
Warm-mist and cool-mist humidifiers are equally effective in humidifying the air. Cool-mist humidifiers may be safer, however, especially when being used around children. Cool water will never burn a child who gets too close. Also, by the time the water vapor reaches your lower airways, it’s the same temperature regardless of whether it started out warm or cool.
Here’s a cool-mist humidifier with an essential oil diffuser.
Add Aromatherapy Essential Oils To Your Humidifier
No, not essential oils like we think of essential fats like omega-3 and omega-6. But instead aromatherapy oils like eucalyptus, pine and lavender. Eucalyptus seems to be the most studied and recommended by others.
NYU Langone Medical Center says … “Aromatherapy is actually a form of herbal medicine. However, instead of using the entire herb, it employs the fragrant “essential oil” that is released when a fresh herb is compressed or subjected to chemical extraction. Essential oils are also often used as fragrances in cosmetics and bath products.
When employed medicinally, essential oils are often evaporated into the air through the use of a humidifier. The famous Vicks VapoRub is a gel form of the essential oils of peppermint, eucalyptus, and camphor.”
Last But Not Least
You’re probably saying enough, enough already! Nope. Sorry. There are several more with good support but I’ll only add one: Aspirin. A few years ago, when I read in Dr. Hendler’s book (The Doctor’s Vitamin & Mineral Encyclopedia) that an aspirin taken at the very beginning of a cold may help abort the cold because aspirin inhibits bradykinin, a substance that helps sustain colds, I tried it the next time I caught a cold. It worked.
Read all cautions on the aspirin bottle before taking it. It’s a wonderful OTC medication but it’s not for everyone. What I personally have found to work is a baby aspirin (80mg) taken three times a day does the trick.
In most instances, when accompanied by the other remedies I’ve discussed above, the cold is gone without a trace at the end of the third day. Do not take aspirin at the same time as you take vitamin C, however, as together they can aggravate the gastric lining. Also, do not give aspirin to children unless directed to do so by your physician.
What If It’s Beyond A Cold–It’s The Flu?
First, if you feel you’ve been “hit by a truck” please seek medical treatment right away. A cold won’t ordinarily make you feel terrible.
If you feel your illness is not as simple as the one or two hundred different viruses that cause a cold and you believe you have a nice batch of the flu (influenza) brewing, there’s also hope- Oscillococcinum (Ah-sill-o-cox-see-num) made by a company called Boiron. Funny name, but there’s nothing funny about the way it handles the aches, chills and fever of the flu. This is something you should have on hand year round.
The fever, chills, body aches and pains of the flu are similar to cold symptoms. The symptoms of a cold; runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, minor sore throat, and mild chest congestion, usually remain at the upper respiratory level. When you have the flu, on the other hand, fever (usually very high but not always) and body aches and pains accompany the initial “cold-like” symptoms. These symptoms are strong and generally appear suddenly. At the very least, a bout with the flu can keep you out of commission from work, your family and generally away from life for weeks.
Oscillococcinum is an official homeopathic medicine, therefore it is 100% natural. Oscillococcinum is pharmaceutically prepared from an all natural active ingredient called Anas Barbariae Hepatis et Cordis Extractum (and pure, inactive ingredients; 85% sucrose and 15% lactose). Oscillococcinum, like all homeopathic medicines, contains very small amounts of the active substance that helps you get better. Therefore, your body receives only the amount of medicine it absolutely needs to gently stimulate your natural defense mechanisms.
I have also used this medicine on myself and family with nothing short of amazing results when the flu (stomach flu included) has struck the Greenwalt household. Follow the directions which accompany Oscillococcinum. Oscillococcinum works best when taken within the first 24 hours of influenza onset. This is something you need to keep on hand because if you have to wait 2-3 days to get it Oscillococcinum may not work as well.
So, for the flu I’ve added Oscillococcinum in addition to the other remedies suggested for the common cold. Not much difference in approach since our goal is strengthening the immune system, not simply suppressing the symptoms like many over the counter products found at your local drug store.
My Personal Cold Cocktail–What I Really Take
It’s been more than a year since I had a cold. I’m knocking on wood!
- Vitamin C with bioflavonoids (1000mg 5-6X/day)
- Alcohol-free Echinacea Liquid by Natures Answer or Now Foods (1 dropper-full 3-4X/day) – add it to orange juice if you can’t stomach the dropper directly into your mouth as I do.
- KYOLIC 103 – This is a synergistic combination of Aged Garlic Extract, blended with an impressive list of immune boosters and antioxidants; Ester-C®, Power mushroom complex (maitake, poria cocos, reishi, shitake, agaricus) Astragalus, Oregano and Olive leaf. (2 caps 2X/day)
- Baby aspirin (1-3X/day)
- Umcka Coldcare by Nature’s Way
- No dairy
- Low or no sugars
- Proper air humidity where I’m sleeping with a replacement of any filters that affect the air I’m breathing at home
I keep all of the supplements on hand in my home so I don’t have to wait even an afternoon to begin taking them should I notice the cold symptoms brewing. Get a head start on your cold or the flu by treating it early before it gets a grip on your immune system. The earlier you can start combating a cold or the flu the better off you’ll be and the quicker and more effective the results of supplementation will be.
A last piece of advice is I’d recommend you make a trip to your local health-food store and simply ask someone there over the age of 30 what their MOST POPULAR supplement is for treating a cold. There are always new supplements coming out and the supplement being purchased the most probably has a decent history behind it with many repeat purchases. You could do the exact same thing with your drug-store pharmacist. Your pharmacist won’t know herbs very well, however, he or she will know the best, most-effective OTC meds currently available. Like supplements OTC meds are always changing and evolving. Never be afraid to ask!
The information in this report and entire newsletter is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness without an affirmation from your physician (N.D., D.O., D.C.,P.A.,N.P. or M.D.).
Always check with a professional when you’re sick before self-administering over-the-counter medicines and/or if symptoms are persistent. When in doubt, or if you’re not sure what you have, ask a qualified professional with appropriate credentials.
In health and performance,
Certified Wellness Coach