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The Natural Way, Issue #003 -- Flu and Cold Season is Upon Us
December 02, 2005
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Happy Holidays! Holiday season is upon us and with our busy schedules, we sometimes end up catching a cold or the flu, making our lives that much more hectic. Here is some basic information that may help you avoid the bug this year.

This month, I decided to try something a little different for The Natural Way. Instead of adding new content to The Natural Path website and merely pointing you to it, I wanted to start rewarding my loyal subscribers by sending content directly to you. Since this shows up only in your newsletter and the back issues of The Natural Way, only subscribers like yourselves can access it. If you like this format, please let me know, and I will start adding subscriber only content more often.

Meet the All-Too-Common Cold

You know one when you see it. Worse yet — you know one when you feel it. Here are some facts to help you better understand the common cold.

What a Common Cold Is
The common cold is an illness caused by a virus infection located in the nose. Colds also involve the sinuses, ears, and bronchial tubes. The symptoms of a common cold include sneezing, runny nose, nasal obstruction, sore or scratchy throat, cough, hoarseness, and mild general symptoms like headache, feverishness, chilliness, and not feeling well in general.

Colds last on average for one week. Mild colds may last only 2 or 3 days while severe colds may last for up to 2 weeks. Adults average 2 to 3 colds per year and children 6 to 10, depending on their age and exposure. Children's noses are the major source of cold viruses.

A cold is a milder illness than influenza. Influenza typically causes fever, muscle aches, and a more severe cough. However, mild cases of influenza are similar to colds. There are over 100 different cold viruses. Rhinoviruses are the most widespread and cause at least one-half of colds.

Cold viruses can only multiply when they are inside of living cells. When on an environmental surface, cold viruses cannot multiply. However, they are still infectious if they are transported from an environmental site into the nose.

How Colds Are Spread
Cold viruses grow mainly in the nose where they multiply in nasal cells and are present in large quantities in the nasal fluid of people with colds. The highest concentration of cold virus in nasal secretions occurs during the first three days of infection. This is when infected persons are most contagious.

Cold viruses may at times be present in the droplets that are expelled in coughs and sneezes.

Nasal secretions containing cold viruses contaminate the hands of people with colds as a result of nose blowing, covering sneezes, and touching the nose. Also, cold viruses may contaminate objects and surfaces in the environment of a cold sufferer. Young children are the major reservoir of cold viruses and a particularly good source of virus-containing nasal secretions.

Experiments have demonstrated that a cold virus readily transfers from the skin and hands of a cold sufferer to the hands and fingers of another person during periods of brief contact. Also, cold viruses readily transfer to the hands as a result of touching contaminated objects and surfaces.

Virus on the fingers is transferred into the nose and eye by finger-to-nose and finger-to-eye contact. Virus deposited in the eye promptly goes down the tear duct into the nose. Once in the nose, a cold virus is transported by mucociliary action to the adenoid area where it starts a cold.

In some instances, cold virus, which is expelled into the air in coughs and sneezes, may land in the nose or eye and cause infection.

Although there is no cure for the common cold, natural aids can help prevent catching a cold by strengthening your immune system. Common natural anti-virals and immune boosters include:

  • Garlic - raw garlic works best. Let the garlic stand for 10 minutes after cutting, before eating. Garlic supplements can also help and are easier on your social life.
  • Grapefruit seed extract - I use a concentrated liquid, adding just 3-5 drops daily during cold season or at the first sign of any symptoms.
  • Echinacea - Herbalists consider Echinacea one of the best blood purifiers and an effective natural antibiotic. It activates the body's immune system increasing the chances of fighting off disease.
  • Red or Black Raspberry juice and Citrus juice - canned or commercially packaged juice has generally been pasteurized. This process depletes the Vitamin C content. Drinking fresh juice will maximize the effect.

Things You Can Do Today to Help Prevent Colds and the Flu

  1. Wash your hands frequently. Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact. Someone who has the flu sneezes onto their hand and then touches the telephone, keyboard, a kitchen glass. The germs can live for hours or longer, only to be picked up by the next person who touches the same object. Carry waterless hand cleaner with you in your purse, glove compartment of your car, diaper bag, lunchbox, etc.
  2. Keep clean towels in the bathroom. Replace your hand towel frequently (some experts recommend daily). Launder towels in hot water to kill germs. Using paper towels instead of cloth towels is highly recommended by many health care professionals. The same holds true in the kitchen if you and your family frequently wash your hands at the kitchen sink. Don't cover your sneezes and coughs with your hands. Germs and viruses cling to your bare hands, muffling coughs and sneezes with your hands results in passing along your germs to others. When you feel a sneeze or cough coming, use a tissue, then throw it away immediately. If you don't have a tissue, turn your head away from people near you and cough into the air. Avoid putting your hands near your eyes, nose or mouth unless you have washed them first. Most bacteria and germs are spread from a surface, then to your hands, and then to your face. Touching their face is the major way children catch colds, and a key way they pass colds on to their parents.
  3. Clean your shared spaces. Remember phones, keyboards, steering wheels, office equipment and other items used by several people during the day. It's a good idea to disinfect doorknobs and light switches, handles on the refrigerator and cabinet doors in the kitchen. Any place that many people would touch frequently throughout the day. Disposable disinfectant wipes make this an easy step.
  4. Get enough sleep. During sleep, your body's immune system goes into high gear to protect you from illness. Lack of sleep can reduce immune functioning making you susceptible to sickness. The average adult needs 8 hours of sleep each night and a school-aged child needs 9-10.
  5. Drink more water. Proper hydration is essential during this season when you consider the amount of time we spend in the dry air present inside our homes and workplaces. Water flushes your system, washing out toxins and germs. A typical, healthy adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids each day. How can you tell if you're getting enough liquid? If the color of your urine runs close to clear, you're getting enough. If it's deep yellow, you need more fluids. More information can be found at Benefit of Drinking Water
  6. Exercise. Aerobic exercise speeds up the heart to pump larger quantities of blood; makes you breathe faster to help transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood; and makes you sweat once your body heats up. These exercises help increase the body's natural virus-killing cells. Try to maintain a 3-4 day week exercise routine. Consistency is key. More information on good aerobic exercises can be found at Benefit of Exercise.
  7. Eat healthy. A good rule is to eat 10-15 calories per pound of "desired body weight." If your ideal weight is 170 lbs, then consume 1700-2550 calories a day (1700 for sedentary individuals and 2550 for active types.) Eat a variety of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals (the less processing, the better), health proteins (a variety of lean beef, poultry, and fish), and healthy fat such as olive oil. Be sure not to overindulge in sugary and starchy foods as they weaken immune function.
  8. Supplement. Fill the gap between your diet and your body's nutritional needs by using naturally derived, potent nutritional supplements. Adequate fiber is necessary for proper elimination and to keep immune function strong. Antioxidants and phytonutrients are also a plus during cold and flu season. Proper mineral and vitamin balance in the body assures you that all of your body systems are functioning optimally. If you need a quality vitamin and phytonutrient supplement, consider this one.
  9. Get fresh air. A regular dose of fresh air is important, especially in cold weather when central heating dries you out and makes your body more vulnerable to cold and flu viruses. Also, during cold weather more people stay indoors, which means more germs are circulating in crowded, dry rooms.
  10. Don't smoke. Statistics show that heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones. Even being around smoke profoundly zaps the immune system. Smoke dries out your nasal passages and paralyzes cilia, the delicate hairs that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs, and with their wavy movements, sweep cold and flu viruses out of the nasal passages. Experts contend that one cigarette can paralyze cilia for as long as 30 to 40 minutes.
  11. Limit alcohol intake. Heavy alcohol use destroys the liver, the body's primary filtering system, which means that germs of all kinds won't leave your body as fast. The result is that heavier drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications. Alcohol also dehydrates the body—it actually takes more fluids from your system than it puts in.
  12. Relax. If you can teach yourself to relax, you can activate your immune system on demand. There's evidence that when you put your relaxation skills into action, your interleukins—leaders in the immune system response against cold and flu viruses—increase in the bloodstream. Take a sauna. Researchers aren't clear about the exact role saunas play in prevention, but one 1989 German study found that people who steamed twice a week got half as many colds as those who didn't. One theory: When you take a sauna you inhale air hotter than 80 degrees, a temperature too hot for cold and flu viruses to survive. Try a deep breathing exercise to help oxygenate your body and to help you relax. Here are simple deep breathing exercise directions.
  13. Listen to your body. If you are less than 100% you will feel better and recover faster if you let yourself rest.

Thank you for subscribing to The Natural Way. I hope you and your families have a Happy Holiday!

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