Natural Medicine Q&A
Ask Dr. P
by Kasra Pournadeali, ND
Natural Medicine Specialist
Now that the holidays are upon us, accompanied with the additional joy (& stress) of them, it is not difficult to become a little overwhelmed. Overwhelming your immune system however can often lead to a cold or flu, which detracts from the whole holiday experience. Support yourself during the holidays, to prevent contracting a cold or flu. If you do happen to get sick, there are ways to treat it naturally. Enjoy this month’s column on preventing & treating colds & flu!
Q: Dr. P., I’ve been miserable for 3 days with a cold, what can I do? Thanks, Mary
Dear Mary, We have all experienced a cold or flu, and doesn’t it seem like it’s usually at the most inopportune time? Cough, runny nose, sore throat, aches and pains, feeling cold, then hot, and just being plain miserable. Most people take a week or longer to recover, but with natural medicine, you can often do better.
“Boosting” your immune system to help fight off the infection, and prevent it from progressing is the goal. This can be accomplished by using plant medicines such as Glycyrrhiza (licorice), Allium (garlic), Thymus (thyme), Sambucus (elder), Echinacea or Mentha (mint). Less commonly known natural medicines, which are helpful in stimulating a person’s immune system, are Lomatium, Berberis, and Astragalus. Therapeutic nutrition, can also support your immune system. For example, several studies show that vitamin C can reduce the severity and duration of the common cold; while others show vitamin A and Zinc either activate the immune system, or are critical for its healthy function. Always talk to your naturopathic doctor before taking any natural medicines, or using therapeutic nutrition. On the right plan, you can often get over a cold or flu in about 24-48 hours, vs. 5-7 days of recovery without it. Don’t have 24 hours, you say? I understand. It’s nature’s reminder that we need to slow down-- just a little!
Dr. P., I usually get a cold every year during the holiday, and would like to prevent one. How can I? Thanks, Kathy
Mary, strengthening your immune system and improving your overall health is key. By doing this, you will get sick less often, with less severity, and recover faster if you do get sick. “How is this done?” you ask. It’s done by working with you to identify what (in your life) is placing your body, (and mind,) under stress. This is important because stress doesn’t just cause heart attacks, ulcers, headaches, anxiety, insomnia or depression, but also increased susceptibility to infection, by suppressing your immune system. Before you say “Dr. P, I have no stress,” keep in mind that stressors include: nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, relationship problems at work, home or school, alcohol/ tobacco use, excess use of caffeine, high carbohydrate intake, heart, kidney, or liver disease, prescription or over-the-counter medication use, exposure to sick people, chemical toxins in food and air, or allergies—just to name a few! Chances are, you have some stressors you haven’t identified. Discovering them can make the difference between having optimal health or just average health. By maximizing your health and avoiding or managing stress better, you achieve a level of vitality where it becomes difficult for you to get sick. Get started on your own, by keeping your body moving, getting some fresh air daily, remembering to drink water, chewing your food, and picking foods that are naturally colorful. Then talk to your naturopathic doctor to refine your optimal health plan. Have a great holiday season!
For more information or to schedule an
appointment, please contact the Northwest Center for Optimal Health at (360)