When cold and flu season hit, choose from a range of ancient practices and traditional remedies.
By Laura Paul
Ayurvedic medicine originates in India and is more than 3,000 years old. Similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the basis of the practise focuses on balancing the body and its life force.
Ayurveda aims to support connections both internally, within the body, and externally with family, community and the world. Herbs, diet modifications and exercise are all part of normal treatment and management plans. As always, seek professional help first, as some herbs are contraindicated with medications, such as ginger and aspirin which are both blood thinners.
For colds and flu, Ayurvedic remedies start with trusty ginger, whilst also incorporating cinnamon, licorice, Holy basil and cloves. Herbs can be used in cooking or taken as a tea. A classic ginger tea for colds steeps a mixture of ginger powder, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cumin and a pinch of cloves in hot water.
In general, Ayurvedic medicine also recommends less meat, dairy products, oily foods, processed foods and con-suming more steamed vegetables and nutrient-dense grains. The general idea is to remove potential digestive stress so the body can concentrate on healing. With colds accompanied by a fever, the warming of the spices triggers the body into ‘sweating it out’, which also makes higher amounts of liquid intake crucial.
Other traditional cold remedies include two crushed garlic cloves boiled with a half teaspoon of turmeric. For those coughs that just won’t go away, try one tablespoon of warm honey mixed with ¼ teaspoon cinnamon powder for three days. For prevention or when you have that first tingle of illness, drink ginger tea several times a day. This can be done easily by putting a few thin slices of fresh ginger or ¼-½ teaspoon of powdered ginger in each cup.
Jenny Ostling, a Certified Holistic Aromatherapist, describes Aromather-apy as the ancient art of healing involving the use of essential oils to promote and maintain physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Extracted from aromatic plants, each essential oil has unique therapeutic characteristics. Research has shown that essential oils have amazing healing properties such as
inducing calm and relaxation, uplifting mood and promoting restful sleep. Essential oils can be very powerful and should be used with care for children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and people with certain health conditions. Oils should be kept tightly sealed in a cool dry place and out of reach of children.
Choosing therapeutic-grade essential oils is particularly important, as quality varies. All essential oils should have the common and botanical name listed on the bottle, a batch number, country of origin and a use by date. Each supplier should also be able to produce a certificate of analysis when asked, as every batch of essential oils should have undergone a quality assurance process.
Pure essential oils are very potent and can cause irritation. Seek professional advice especially when beginning to use oils. Some oils can be dangerous if ingested and require specific dilution or diffusion ratios.
For children, dilute essential oils with 5-9 drops in 30ml of vegetable oils such as coconut, sweet almond, or apricot kernel oil. Adults should use 18 drops per 30ml of oil. Massage into the skin or spray pump to disperse particles into the air. Alternatively use a diffuser with a tea light or purchase an electronic diffuser.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Judy Xu, owner of Balance Health and Oriental Health, says Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is very effective for colds and flu and strengthens the body to prevent other illnesses. Traditional Chinese Medicine aims to support the internal organ systems by balancing the body – the Yin (cold) and the Yang (heat) as well as the Chi (energy) and blood (circulation).
For instance, if a child was caught in a cold rain and got the chills, TCM would prescribe a mixture of ginger and cinnamon rubbed onto the skin with a cloth to induce warming of the body. If the cold takes root, drinking a cooled mixture of boiled ginger and cinnamon is the next step. For children and adults who can handle a bit of spice, drinking ginger juice is a great way to get fast relief. Children also benefit from acupressure, especially on the upper middle part of the foot, which supports the lungs.
For illness where there is too much heat resulting in coughs and the production of yellow mucus, use herbs like mulberry leaf, lalang grass rhizome and lotus root. For fever, try the special remedy of mixing ‘yin qiao san’ with honey. This paste should be placed overnight on the feet at a special acupuncture point called KD1 or yong quan, drawing the fever out of the body.
Typically combining 10 to 20 different herbs, the tea poultice will treat the root cause of illness. Acupuncture and acupressure also facilitates delivery of the remedy to the correct part of the body in order to cure symptoms. Herbal pastes in addition to acupuncture take the TCM remedy straight to meridian points for effective relief. Gua sha (scraping) or cupping may also be a part of your treatment plan.
Naturopathy and Homeopathy
Most people recognize the small white pills that homeopathy commonly uses to treat illness. The premise is minute doses of a natural substance that causes the same symptoms as the current illness will boost the body to fight off that particular sickness. You will often hear the expression ‘like treats like’. It means that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in sick people.
Dr. Benita Perch, who treats many children and adults every year for the common cold and flu, says there are many things you can do at the beginning of a cold. She recommends high doses of vitamin C, D and zinc along with a range of herbs to support and boost the immune system. For children, Benita recommends mainly elderberry, and for adults she likes echinacea, elderberry, olive leaf and lemon balm among others. All of the herbs have high anti-viral properties and are effective at treating colds when used in higher doses. For an off-the-shelf remedy, she likes Vital Nutrients’ Viracon, which includes elderberry extract, propolis, astragalus root and several other extracts for a ready-made immune system boost.
Because there are hundreds of remedies that work for the common cold and flu, homeopathy is always best prescribed individually. Using a range of specific questions to assess symptoms, the remedy prescribed will directly address the particular symptoms of illness.
COMMON HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES
FOR COLD AND FLU
*Eupatorium – For flu, bone aches head to toe, painful movement, tiredness and sensitivity to temperature change.
*Gelsemium – For flu, fever, slight headache, and shiver in the cold which goes up and down spine, nose blocked in warm room, heavy eyes.
*Allium cepa – For colds with profuse watery nose that irritates the upper lip, heat and burning in nose.
*Euphrasia – For colds with profuse watery nose but no burning, heavy congestion and redness of eyes.
*Mercurius – For colds that start with irritation in the throat, pain in tonsils and difficulty swallowing, runny nose develops afterwards.