What are colds and flu?
Every fall, like the seasons themselves, the flu season arrives with a vengeance taking people out of work, school, and sometimes... sending them to the hospital with serious complications.
Most people will suffer 2 to 4 colds a year, usually during early Fall and throughout Spring. Doctors call them "viral upper respiratory infections" or "acute viral nasopharyngitis".
Colds may be caused by any one of over 250 viruses that cause inflammation in the mucous linings of the nose and throat. They are more common in winter, possibly because the indoor heating dries out our nasal passages, which makes them more susceptible to cold and flu viruses.
The familiar symptoms, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, watery eyes and a sore throat, usually develop a day or two after exposure to the virus. The infection normally lasts about a week to 10 days. The symptoms are not caused by the virus itself, but by your bodyís attempts to get rid of the virus.
In addition to the hundreds of cold viruses, there are dozens of the viruses that cause flu or influenza. Flu symptoms are similar to those produced by the cold virus - coughing, sneezing, muscle aches, fatigue, fever and gastrointestinal distress. One or more flu virus will certainly make an appearance during this winter season.
Over 90 million Americans contract the flu every year at a cost of about 70 million lost work days and an annual $12 billion in lost production during epidemics.
Thankfully, most flu sufferers will recover after one to two weeks, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are approximately 20,000 deaths in an average flu season.
Drugs and the flu
Cold and flu sufferers spend billions of dollars yearly on various over-the-counter medications that are designed to suppress cold symptoms.
But since the symptoms actually represent your bodyís efforts to eliminate the virus, the conventional cold remedies that try to suppress the fever, runny nose, sneezing and coughing simply donít make any sense.
Antibiotics are often requested by patients themselves. They make even less sense because they fight bacteria, not viruses. These medications are not only useless, they are often harmful and even dangerous as they can cause side effects and alter the immune system needlessly.
They can cause a number of side effects, including drowsiness, elevation of blood pressure and increased chance of an allergic reaction. Some, especially nasal sprays, are addictive and can lead to dependence.
Medical doctors are usually not very helpful either. Feeling pressured to provide some kind of treatment, they prescribe useless cough suppressants, nasal decongestants and even antibiotics that are completely useless against viruses.
This practice is the main reason for the increasingly common problem of bacterial resistance, when even the most potent antibiotics become powerless against the bacteria.
Herbal Protection Against Viruses
Fortunately, there are a number of natural substances that help the immune system fight the viruses causing colds and flu. They have been used in folk medicine long before the first antibiotic was even discovered.
Wild Oregano possesses superior antimicrobial powers, capable of bringing fast relief from cold and flu symptoms (runny nose, congestion, chills, sore throat, ear aches, cough, fever, fatigue, stuffiness and muscle aches) because it is able to kill the virus that is their cause.
Oregano oil has incredible antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effects. Studies show it also has unrivaled antiseptic (pain-killing) qualities.
Many studies have shown that oregano oil can improve the symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold and flu. Plus, as discussed in Dr. Cass Ingramís The Cure is in the Cupboard: How to Use Oregano for Better Health, oregano oil has been proven effective against a variety of microorganisms. The best part is that oregano oil is completely non-toxic and does not cause any side effects.
The Olive Leaf has the distinction of being one of the few medicinal plants mentioned in the Bible. Studies show that Olive Leaf extract is a potent anti-microbial that has inhibited the growth of every human pathogen it has been tested against, including viruses, bacteria, protozoa, fungi and yeast.
Echinacea has a rich tradition of use by North American Indians who used it medicinally more than any other plant. Echinacea stimulates the overall activity of the cells responsible for fighting all kinds of infection. In other words, it makes our own immune cells more efficient in attacking bacteria, viruses and abnormal cells; including cancer cells.
Today millions of Europeans use Echinacea as their primary therapy for colds, flu, infections, and for general immune-boosting effects. The main uses of Echinacea include: colds, coughs and flu and other upper respiratory conditions, enlarged lymph glands and sore throat.
Golden Seal has been used for centuries in herbal medicine. Golden Seal has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It soothes irritated mucus membranes, aiding the eyes, ears, nose and throat.
Taken at the first signs of respiratory problems, Golden Seal may help prevent further symptoms from developing. It may be used to help reduce fevers and relive congestion and excess mucous.
Garlic (Allium sativum) has been used since the days of the Egyptians to treat wounds, infections, tumors, and intestinal parasites. Modern scientific research confirms the benefits of these and other ancient uses for garlic.
The Allicin in Garlic is responsible for many of its healing properties. It stimulates the immune system, increasing the activity of white blood cells that fight foreign organisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and yeast.
Garlic is particularly effective in treating upper respiratory viral infections due to its immune enhancing properties and its ability to clear mucous from the lungs.
Astragalus is a Chinese herb that has traditionally been used to strengthen the Wei Ch'i, or immune system. It is regarded as a potent tonic for increasing energy levels and stimulating the immune function.
It has been proven effective in cases of colds, flu and even cancer. The American Cancer Society reported that it restored immune functions in 90% of the cancer patients studied. It improves the white cell function and general resistance to infection.
The effect of the mineral Zinc on the immune system is well known. According to medical studies, it can reduce the average duration of colds by 7 days and decrease the severity of all cold symptoms to virtually nonexistent after the third day!
Vitamin C is well known for its ability to fight viruses and bacteria by stimulating the white cells, which are the "soldiers" of the immune system.
Vitamin C may be the most important antioxidant when it comes to immune system function. It works well with other immune activators and does not cause any side effects.