Posts

11 Holistic Ways to Treat Cold Symptoms

It’s that time of the year when many people are getting sick. Unfortunately there is no cure for the common cold, but a few home remedies may be all you need to help manage your symptoms as your body fights off the infection. Here are some great ways to get yourself through the next week of the cough and congestion.

1. The Secret

Support your immune system in every way possible. Eat a light diet filled with warm, fresh, cooked foods. Avoid sugar, alcohol, smoking, stressful situations and even strenuous exercise. Read on to number 2 below.

2. Rest

When you are sick your immune system is in overdrive, so the more rest you get, the better your body will be able to effectively use its resources to fight off the infection.

3. Hydrate

All that mucous, coughing and immune system activation can lead to dehydration, making you feel even weaker. Adequate hydration with water, fresh juice and light broth based soups can help prevent dehydration and make the mucous secretions less sticky and uncomfortable.

4. Saline Rinses

Saline is probably one of the most underutilized cold fighting modalities. Since cold and flu virus enter the nose or throat, rinsing with saline can help keep these areas clean, not to mention clear all the mucous secretions. The neti pot and warm salt water gargles can also provide relief of stuffy nose and sore throat symptoms respectively.

5. Stay Warm

There is truth to this old wive’s tail. Cold temperatures can affect the immunity of your nasal passages where the cold virus enters, so make sure to bundle up when going outside. From an Ayurvedic perspective, the cold and the flu result from an imbalance of the Vata and Kapha dosha. Balancing Vata and Kapha requires heat whether it be from drinking hot tea or eating warm, easily digestible foods. This is one of the reasons why salads, raw foods, cold beverages and ice cream are advised against when you are sick. Find more about how to boost your immunity from an Ayurvedic perspective here.

 

holistic, Ayurveda, immune system, cold, flu

 

6. Eat Ginger and Turmeric 

Ginger and Turmeric are both scientifically proven to strengthen the immune system and fight the cold and flu virus. Steep fresh ginger and turmeric in hot water for a fresh ginger-turmeric tea.

7. Honey

Honey can not only boost the immune system but sooth a sore throat and suppress coughing. Take a spoonful as you would with cough medicine.

8. Vitamins and Supplements

Vitamins C, D and E have been found to be helpful in boosting immunity and helping with the cold and flu. Probiotics have also been shown to reduce the duration of cold symptoms. 

9. Essential oils

One study showed that a blend of eucalyptus, sweet orange, myrtle, and lemon essential oils helped with respiratory symptoms experienced in colds.

10. Halotherapy

Halotherapy or salt inhalation therapy has been shown to help with respiratory symptoms of colds and asthma. You can perform halotherapy with a himalayan salt inhaler at home or at a halotherapy center in your area.

11. Patience

It’s important to be patient during this time. Stressing about getting better will only make things worse. Chances are you may have gotten sick due to recent stress or lack of sleep, so this is a chance to recuperate on many levels.

You DON’T need antibiotics!

I wanted to note one last thing about antibiotics. Many people come to me because they want antibiotics for their cold, not realizing antibiotics are incorrectly prescribed by many clinicians. Antibiotics are NOT indicated for colds as cold are caused by a virus. Cold symptoms usually resolve on their own in about a week. There are other over the counter options available to manage cold symptoms and sometimes a doctor’s visit may be in order to assess severe symptoms or those that do not resolve after several days. As always, prevention is your best bet when it comes to staying healthy and make sure to consult with your healthcare provider when treating your symptoms.

Read about how to prevent yourself from getting sick 10 Natural Ways to Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season.

What natural ways do you use to treat cold symptoms?

PSA: You don’t need antibiotics for your cold

We are amidst the cold and flu season, and the expectation for antibiotics is so common that I find myself spending most of my time explaining why antibiotic use for colds are inappropriate. It’s time that I feel people would benefit from resting at home, letting their bodies recover. Sometimes I wish I could create a PSA or scream at the top of my lungs that

Colds are caused by a virus! Antibiotics are for bacterial infections. Get some rest, fluids and let your body heal naturally!

             (I also have a few choice words for anyone who continues to inappropriately prescribe antibiotics for a cold and perpetuate the unreasonable demand… Should I tell you how I really feel?)

I am absolutely thrilled that the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine that gave specific recommendations to physicians for appropriate scenarios to prescribe antibiotics. The article recommended the following valuable guidelines:

Clinicians should

  • NOT prescribe antibiotics for patients with the common cold. (AND I REPEAT, CLINICIANS SHOULD NOT PRESCRIBE ANTIBIOTICS FOR THE COMMON COLD)
  • NOT perform testing or initiate antibiotic therapy in patients with bronchitis unless pneumonia is suspected.
  • Test patients with symptoms suggestive of strep throat by rapid antigen detection test and/or culture for group A Streptococcus and should treat patients with antibiotics ONLY if they have confirmed streptococcal pharyngitis.
  • Reserve antibiotic treatment for acute rhinosinusitis for patients with:
    – persistent symptoms for more than 10 days
    – onset of severe symptoms or signs of high fever (>39 °C)
    – purulent nasal discharge or facial pain lasting for at least 3 consecutive days
    – or onset of worsening symptoms following a typical viral illness that lasted 5 days that was initially improving (double sickening).

The article also states that sinus infections usually clear up without antibiotics even if bacteria are to blame, and that antibiotics in these cases cause more adverse effects. The guidelines also recommend the following remedies for symptom relief:

Analgesics for pain
Antipyretics for fever
Systemic or topical decongestants
Saline nasal irrigation
Cough suppressants (dextromethorphan or codeine)
Expectorants (guaifenesin)
First-generation antihistamines (diphenhydramine)
Decongestants (phenylephrine)
Beta-agonists (albuterol)
Intranasal corticosteroids

The cold virus will eventually run its course. Often catching a cold happens during times of high stress and lack of sleep, so it’s important to allow yourself to rest.

Antibiotic resistance is a serious health threat and not to be taken lightly. Again, it requires a commitment from both physicians and patients. So save yourself some time and healthy gut bacteria and stay home and rest. Your cold will get better and if not, I’ll be here to help.

Read more about the 3 Main Reasons You Don’t Need an Antibiotic for a Cold and 10 Natural Ways to Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

 

Los Angeles Santa Monica Ayurveda

10 Natural Ways to Stay Healthy this Cold and Flu Season

Fall is finally here and with it comes the cooler weather, pumpkin spice lattes and the dreaded cold and flu season. Here are some tips for staying healthy over the next several months:
  1. Optimize your immune system

The most effective way to prevent colds, the flu, and many other diseases, is with a healthy immune system. Our immune system has special cells and molecules that recognize and fight the viruses that cause the common cold and flu. The flu vaccine is not 100% effective for the flu, and does not prevent colds, which are caused by a completely different virus. In fact, last year the flu vaccine was only about 20% effective in preventing the flu. A healthy lifestyle can potentially cover the other 80%. A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress management are simple, yet incredibly effective ways that have been scientifically proven boost the immune system.

  1. Use nasal saline rinses

The entry point for cold and flu viruses occurs primarily through the nasal passages. Use a Neti pot daily to rinse your nasal passages with saline solution to flush out viruses, preventing them from spreading throughout the respiratory tract.

  1. Gargle with warm salt water

Gargling with warm salt water has been scientifically proven to prevent colds. Like saline nasal rinses, gargling with warm salt water daily can help prevent cold and flu viruses from replicating and progressing in the body.

  1. Stay Warm

The old wives tale of staying bundled up has some merit. While cold temperatures are not the direct cause of colds and the flu, scientists have found that exposure to cold air may decrease the local immune response in our nasal passages. One of the main reasons we catch colds during colder seasons is because many people spend time indoors, thus making it easier to be exposed to cold and flu viruses. If you do decide to get some fresh air, make sure to bundle up and keep your face and neck covered.

  1. Take vitamin D

study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation in children decreased the risk of contracting the flu. Homeopathic remedies such as probiotics, vitamin C and oscillococcinum may help, but studies have not yet shown definitive evidence for their use in preventing colds and the flu.

  1. Drink Ginger Turmeric tea

In Ayurveda, colds and the flu are thoughts to be due to an imbalance of Vata and Kapha dosha. Turmeric and ginger can balance these doshas. In fact, both ginger and turmeric have been scientifically proven to strengthen the immune system and work against cold and flu viruses.

Top SellingImmune System Booster (1)

 

  1. Cover your mouth

Cold and flu viruses are transmitted through air droplets, so there is some merit to covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, especially if you have symptoms.

  1. Wash your hands

While air droplets transmit cold and flu viruses, you can still spread the virus with your hands. Since cold and flu symptoms may not appear for up to one day after being infected, it’s that much more important to wash your hands frequently. Also, avoid touching your face to prevent the cold and flu viruses from entering your nose.

  1. Disinfect your home

This goes along with tip #8. Disinfect commonly touched places in your home, such as doorknobs and light switches.

  1. Avoid contact with sick people

The influenza virus is contagious so make sure to limit your exposure to those who are infected. If you happen to be sick as well, stay home and get some rest!

Stay ahead of the cold and flu season!

These prevention strategies are worth a cold and flu- free fall and winter season for you and your family. Make sure to practice a healthy lifestyle all year round.

Feel free to share ways in which you have been able to prevent yourself from getting sick in the comments below!

3 Main Reasons you don’t Need Antibiotics for a Cold

With the cold and flu season upon us, everyone is trying to figure out how to avoid getting sick. I often educate patients about why antibiotics aren’t warranted for the common cold, and here are 3 main reasons why:

Colds are caused by viruses

The common cold is usually caused by the rhinovirus. Unfortunately there are no approved pharmaceutical agents that combat this particular virus, mostly because the virus is constantly changing. Strep throat, many cases of sinusitis, and ear infections often have similar symptoms to the common cold, but are caused by bacteria, which can be treated with antibiotics. A thorough assessment by a healthcare provider can help determine the cause and appropriate treatment of your symptoms.

“…simple measures such as rest and fluids give the body the ammunition it needs to combat the cold virus.”

Antibiotics have side effects

Antibiotics are not harmless. Each antibiotic, like most drugs, has a multitude of side effects. Antibiotics destroy the good bacteria in our guts, which we need for balanced gastrointestinal health. These drugs have even been linked to allergies, eczema and even deadly diarrheal illnesses. Many healthcare providers reflexively prescribe antibiotics incorrectly, which adds to the problem. The increased use of antibiotics has bred resistant strains of bacteria leading to an epidemic of bacterial infections which can no longer be treated by current antibiotics.

The best cold remedy is…

In general, the best cure for any disease is prevention. In addition to practicing good hygiene, a healthy immune system is necessary to fight off a viral infection. Adequate sleep, a balanced diet, exercise and routine stress management boost the immune system, as well as overall well-being. Over the counter remedies target cold symptoms such as cough and congestion. However, simple measures such as rest and fluids give the body the ammunition it needs to combat the cold virus.

“Illness is one of the body’s way of letting us know that we would benefit from taking better care of ourselves.”

So you may be thinking, “Dr. Aunna, I always feel better when I take antibiotics.” If you truly have the cold virus, chances are you are starting to feel better from the natural course of the illness rather than the antibiotics. It’s also possible that you believe you are going to feel better, and thus you do. The placebo effect is extremely powerful. On the other hand, it’s possible to have a viral infection that can eventually progress to a bacterial illness. Over time a healthcare provider will be able to determine whether or not this is this case.

Regardless of the cause, illness is one of the body’s way of letting us know that we would benefit from taking better care of ourselves. Instead of stressing out about being sick and thinking you need antibiotics, take the time to rest and treat your body with the respect it deserves. Make your health a priority.

Read more about 10 Natural Ways to Prevent Colds and the Flu.

Thinking of your New Year’s Resolutions? Get started with some ideas from Dr. Aunna’s advice for All Year’s Resolutions.

6 Holistic Ways to Prevent the Flu

The Influenza Virus

With the flu season around the corner, many of us are trying to figure out how to stay healthy and “flu-free.” The flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Common symptoms include:

– Fever
– Fatigue
– Headaches
– Runny nose
– Congestion
– Sore throat
– Vomiting
– Diarrhea
– Body aches

Source: cdc.gov

Source: cdc.gov

Cold vs Flu

It’s important to note that the flu is different from the common cold. Both illnesses are caused by different viruses and the flu usually comes on suddenly with more severe symptoms. The flu is also more likely to cause complications such as pneumonia, ear infections and sinus infections.

Flu Prevention

Most people think that the influenza vaccine is all they need, but according to the CDC, the influenza vaccine is only 60% effective. Here are some additional ways to help you prevent the flu (and the common cold):

1. Build a healthy immune system

The most effective way to prevent the flu, and many other diseases, is with a healthy immune system. Our immune system has special cells and molecules that recognize and fight pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. While everyone is susceptible to the flu, those with weaker immune systems are at a higher risk of developing complications from the flu. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with other medical conditions such as heart failure are at risk. A healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and stress management are simple, yet incredibly effective ways to boost the immune system and prevent many other diseases!

2. Cover your mouth

The influenza virus is transmitted through air droplets, so there is some merit to covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing, especially if you have symptoms.

Sneeze in progress. Source: cdc.gov

Sneeze in progress. Source: cdc.gov

3. Wash your hands

While the influenza virus is transmitted by air droplets, you can still spread the virus with your hands. Since flu symptoms may not appear for up to one day after being infected, it’s that much more important to wash your hands frequently. Avoid touching your face since the nasal passages are the main entry for the influenza virus.

4. Disinfect your home

This goes along with tip #3. Disinfect commonly touched places in your home, such as doorknobs and light switches.

5. Avoid contact with sick people

The influenza virus is contagious so make sure to limit your exposure to those who are infected. If you happen to be sick as well, stay home and get some rest!

6. Take vitamin D

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation in children decreased the risk of contracting the flu. Homeopathic remedies such as probiotics, vitamin C and oscillococcinum may help, but studies have not yet shown definitive evidence for their use in preventing the flu.

Take advantage of what Mother Nature has blessed you with

Despite your best efforts to prevent the flu, it’s still possible that you may come in contact with the virus. A healthy immune system, however, can stop the virus before it can spread throughout the body.  The influenza vaccine is just another way to help build our immune system’s resources, but won’t be effective if our innate healing mechanisms aren’t functioning properly.

Make sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle all year round and discuss the best flu prevention options for you and your family with your healthcare provider.

Share your flu prevention methods in the comments below!

Del-Immune Flu Prevention Expert Check out How to Prevent the Flu: Tips from 30 Health and Flu Prevention Experts on the Best Way to Avoid Getting Sick with the Flu this Winter