What to do when you feel the first hint of a cold or flu

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The short answer is SWEAT IT OUT. Most viruses and bacteria have only a  narrow temperature range at which they can survive. This is why fever is effective at eliminating them: we raise our body temperature higher than they can take, and that kills them or limits their ability to multiply and that buys time for our immune system to destroy them.


Here are some great herbs that assist us in working up a slight sweat:

a)  When you get that first sense that you may be sick, immediately have some hot cinnamon and ginger tea.The cinnamon warms and relaxes the muscles and promotes blood flow, while the ginger is spicy and warming.

b) Great additions include :

  •  Boneset (great for the aches and pains of a cold),
  •  Yarrow (is a diaphoretic, meaning it will help you sweat).
  •  You can also add some culinary thyme to the brew for antimicrobial function,
  •  Rosehips for Vitamin C.

Because these are not commonly kept around the house, it may be worth it to have a small “Flu Kit” ready.

Great sources for loose herbs include The Stone Cottage (on Gladstone and 39th) or The Herb Shoppe (on Hawthorne).

Or we have tinctures at Red Leaf Clinic and are always happy to make one up for you.

After drinking your tea, take a hot shower and then climb under lots of blankets.

Also, try to steer clear of using aspirin or other anti-inflammatories to remove the symptoms:

In one experiment, a pair of double-blind trials administered either aspirin or placebo to volunteers experimentally infected with rhinovirus, the most common virus to cause the common cold. Aspirin reduced the symptoms somewhat, but caused a “highly significant” increase in virus production.

In 2000, researchers tested the effects of antifever therapy with aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol)on  influenza A virus. The authors noted a “striking” prolongation of influenza infection in the patients who took either aspirin or acetaminophen (Plaisance et al.).

Try hot soup instead!

Zinc lozenges when taken within the first 24 hours of onset can shorten the common cold, but dosage and type of zinc need to be correct: Three trials used zinc acetate in doses over 75 mg and their combined results found a 42% reduction in the duration of the colds.  Five trials used other chemical forms of zinc over 75 mg and they produced only a 20% reduction in the duration of colds.

At Red Leaf Clinic we always think personalization of your treatment leads to the best outcome, so if you are feeling under the weather come on in for an herbal prescription made just for you, and enjoy the healing effects of acupuncture and cranial-sacral therapy. Otherwise put these simple remedies to work for you! Here’s to a  healthy winter.

Be kind and be brave,

Dr. Su Saccomanno






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