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Coughs and Sneezes Cause Diseases

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The cold and flu epidemic hits every year without fail. Lucky you if your immune system is strong enough to ward off a viral attack, which can put many people out of action for days.

The cold and flu epidemic hits every year without fail. Lucky you if your immune system is strong enough to ward off a viral attack, which can put many people out of action for days.

Colds and flus are caused by viruses that infect the upper respiratory system and are easily transmitted from one person to another. These viruses seem to have their heydays in the fall and spring, when the weather changes from warm to cool and vice versa. The danger of infection is especially high in air-conditioned and closed environments such as offices, restaurants, stadiums, buses and airplanes. Cold symptoms include sneezing, a stuffed-up, runny nose, sore throat and dry cough, which can worsen or even develop into a nasty bronchial catarrh. Flus exhibit similar symptoms but are more severe than colds, causing high fevers and chills, achy muscles, total exhaustion and sometimes, nausea.

While the majority of people are able to withstand viral attacks, some believe the yearly flu shot offers reliable protection. Experience and statistics tell us differently. A new species of the flu virus seems to dominate each year; this alone renders flu shots, which were developed for the previous year's epidemic, ineffective. The simple fact is that people catch colds and flus when the immune system is weak. Susceptibility is directly related to lifestyle factors such as lack of sleep, sedentary work habits and circulation problems. Improper nutrition, too much junk food, not enough fresh fruits and vegetables rich in enzymes, vitamins and minerals, and poor stress management also play a role in weakening the immune system.

Now let's do a reality check. In spite of all precautions, there may come a day when you return home from work feeling lousy and achy: the flu bug is at work. The body will try to shake off the virus by increasing its temperature, which results in a fever. Rather than take medication to suppress the fever, supporting the body's efforts to produce sweat is a more natural way to combat the virus.

As a herbalist, one naturopathic procedure has continued to work for me without fail. At the first sign of a cold or flu, take 15 to 30 drops of echinacea tincture every hour. Echinacea does not prevent the cold or flu, but it is a proven immune strengthener. Take 500 milligrams of vitamin C every few hours. Prepare an herbal tea with elderberry blossoms, either pure or in a mixture with other herbs, to induce fever. Drink one cup immediately.

Before bed, rub your chest and shoulders with Olbas oil, a compound of seven essential herbal oils that are known to kill bacteria. Immediately take a hot shower for five to 10 minutes, as hot as you can stand it, followed by a short 10- to 15-second cold shower to close the pores again. Rub yourself once more with Olbas oil. Drink a cup of elderberry blossom tea and take a dose of echinacea. Take another 500 mg of vitamin C and go straight to bed.

If, after a couple of hours, you wake to find yourself completely soaked in sweat, this is normal. Just dry yourself, change your clothes, drink a big glass of juice or water with echinacea and go back to sleep. The next morning, you should feel like a new person! However, if you don't go through this procedure right at onset of the symptoms, it may take days to shake off the virus.

The healing process with coughs and sniffles usually takes a little longer because most of us seem to ignore symptoms for as long as we have to. We are chronic procrastinators when it comes to our health. We don't do anything about sickness until it's too late. But if you take echinacea and vitamin C as soon as possible, and carefully rub Olbas oil into the nostrils, a full outbreak of symptoms can often be prevented.

If symptoms worsen substantially, it's best to stay home for a day or two so that others don't get infected. Take that time to start an intense healing treatment. You may have heard the apathetic statement, "With the help of a doctor, a cold will last 14 days. When treating it yourself it will be gone within two weeks." Nevertheless, there are some ways to help speed up the process and lessen a cold's severity.

Both the oil and the salve of Olbas, from Switzerland, are a must. Use it to clear running and stuffed noses. Carefully rub the oil into the nostrils, onto your chest, and put drops on your handkerchief and inhale. To relieve your headache, massage the oil into your temples and on the back of your neck.

Chamomile blossoms can be used for steam inhalations to dry up the mucus in the nose and throat. Pour boiling hot water over three heaping tablespoons of blossoms into a bowl. Place your head over the bowl, cover with a blanket and inhale for five minutes.

Vitamin C strengthens the cells and builds up the immune system. It's best to use vitamin C and zinc in combination. Take as directed.

Echinacea tincture is not a cure for the common cold, but it helps to build immunity. At the first sign of a cold, take echinacea in fairly large doses that is, double as per label instructions or 180 drops of tincture five to six times daily.

Herbal cough syrups come in a variety of formulas, including traditional European herbal cough syrups and North American formulas that contain echinacea. Babies and small children especially enjoy honey and fennel flavours.

Cough lozenges are helpful and contain ingredients such as zinc, slippery elm, echinacea and alpine herbs.

Herbal teas are essential. Your medicine chest should include at least a flu-grippe tea and a herbal cough tea.

Pure, fresh-pressed herbal juices bring about great results in a very short time. Coltsfoot herbal juice is one I never want to be without when a cold approaches. It clears hoarseness of the throat, loosens phlegm and relieves asthma and bronchial catarrh. Plantain, thyme and sage juices are excellent in clearing up mucous congestion in the respiratory passages; they work especially well in combination with coltsfoot.

This list of natural remedies for coughs, sneezes and colds is by no means conclusive. The registered nutritional product advisor at your local health food store is a good source for further information. If you haven't yet stocked up your home medicine chest, now is the time to start.

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