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The Common Cold Holistic Treatment


by Nancy Eos, M.D.

Colds, or upper respiratory infections (URI) produce symptoms of runny nose, ear fullness, and nasal and sinus congestion.  Sometimes, a person also has a sore throat, or cough, or a low grade fever.

If sputum, wheeze, shortness of breath, or earache symptoms begin, a visit to the medical doctor may be needed.  Most colds resolve in 3 to 7 days regardless of the treatment.  If it persists longer, becomes worse, or you have any concerns, see someone for evaluation.

The holistic view of colds is first to discover what is out of balance and why it is that the body ‘caught cold’.

Next, work on coming back into balance.  Find an inner harmony away from stress.  Take time out to rest and recover.  Pay attention to what your body is telling you.

General holistic treatment for colds is to:

Drink plenty of liquids, include about 8 cups of purified water spaced throughout the waking day.

Eat lighter meals, more often.  Avoid sugars, fried or fatty foods because of the effort the body takes in digesting them.

Supportive nutrition by eating a balanced diet is very helpful to a faster recovery.  Reduce the intake of mucus-forming foods such as dairy products.  Increase the vitamin C foods such orange juice.  Garlic or onions help to fight viral illnesses.

Soothing hot teas such as elder flower, peppermint, or yarrow are helpful.  Also, garlic water – one clove sliced and covered with boiling water.  Or, 1 tablespoon each of lemon juice, honey, grated ginger and add 1 cup boiling water.

Steam yourself with very warm showers or baths.  Use a neti pot with salt and warm water nasal irrigation.  Or set a bowl of very hot water before you, then place a towel over your head and the water and breathe in the steam.  An aromatic oil or garlic may be added to the water.

Regular exercise should continue as tolerated.  Make it slow and firm such as walking, Tai Chi, or Hatha Yoga restive poses.

Supplements for the common cold are vitamin C, rosehips, zinc, cayenne, echinacea and goldenseal.  An aromatherapy of eucalyptus opens sinus passages.  Ayurvedic Trishun is good taken with a warm drink.  Homeopathic Aconite may help early in the cold.

Note:    Do not take over-the-counter decongestants or antihistamines if you have a history of high blood pressure or glaucoma or benign prostate hypertrophy or are a male over 50 years old.  These medications stop the muscle action which allows urine to flow.

Get adequate rest, especially a good night’s sleep.

Finally, think positively.  See yourself well.  Health is a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Most colds and the flu are caused not by bacteria but by viruses.  That is why antibiotics which work on bacteria do not work on the cold or flu.

Continue your daily multi-vitamin and minerals tablet.  Consider increasing for a few days the vitamin E to 400 IU a day, zinc picolinate to 35 mg a day, and selenium to 200 micrograms a day.

If you have a constitutional homeopathic remedy, use it.  If not, try some acute remedies such as Aconite, Gelsemium, Kali-bichromium, Arsenicum, and Ferrum-phosphoricum.

Do not use aromatherapy or essential oils with Homeopathy but if you do not use Homeopathy, Eucalyptus, Wintergreen, Mint, Chamomile, Tea tree oil, or Thieves help.

If you begin with any of the following symptoms, you need to seek individualized medical help:  wheeze, shortness of breath, prolonged cough, pain without apparent cause, sinus pain, fever, ear pain, headache, pressure in the face or head or eyes, fatigue out of proportion to the illness, and continued throat pain.

If you have been found to have strep throat, be sure to follow up to make sure that the streptococcus is all gone after the antibiotics.

If there is a sinus infection with your cold, change your dietary habits.  Avoid milk and dairy products which are mucus producing.  For children, add broccoli and soy products to replace calcium and magnesium.  A whole foods diet is best with lots of fruits, vegetables and grains.  Certain foods benefit sinus problems such as garlic, onions and fruits.

If there are food allergies with your cold, avoid the following for three weeks and then reintroduce one at a time:  Dairy, wheat, chocolate, corn, sugar, soy, yeast, oranges, tomatoes, bell peppers, white potatoes, eggs, garlic, peanuts, black pepper, red meat, coffee, black tea, beer, wine and champagne.

If there is post nasal drip then take fish oil as Super EPA 300 mg.  Begin with 2 capsules a day and increase by 1 a day up to 10 capsules a day or until symptoms are improved.

For seasonal allergies then add Lactobacillus Acidophilus 1 capsule or 1 teaspoonful 3 times a day, Vitamin B-6 200 mg 2 times a day, and Pantothenic Acid 500mg 3 times a day.  Quercetin, a natural bioflavonoid, is very effective at a dose of 1500 to 2000 mg a day.

If you must take an antibiotic, support your body by replacing the normal bowel bacteria with Probiotics during the course of the antibiotic and for 2 weeks thereafter.  This can be accomplished by eating ¼ cup of yogurt a day or taking a supplement.  The supplement is Lactobacillus acidophilus with or without Bifidobacteria bifidum (see separate handout).

Some liquids to sip that might help: (1) 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey, 1 cup hot water, add ½ clove of garlic or some ginger. (2) Garlic or miso soup. (3) 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger.

No smoking or alcohol.

Other helps:  Bee Propolis taken 500mg 3 times a day.  Peppermint oil or Tiger Balm may be applied around the outside of the nostrils 3 times a day.  Zinc throat lozenges.

Again, rest and relax.