4 natural ways to prevent and treat a cold

Alternative-health expert and author Bryce Wylde shares his tips and go-to products

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woman drinking tea

Beat cold and flu season

The average person contracts more than 150 colds during their lifetime. The common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory system, and one of the leading causes of doctor visits and missed days from school and work. In Canada, we spend more than $300 million each year on over-the-counter and prescription medicines for relief of cold and flu symptoms, such as a runny nose, headache and sore throat. There are a variety of natural products, too. Here are just a few that I recommend:

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cold flu natural remedies

Probiotics for prevention

While many people think that probiotics help only their digestive systems, they also boost immune function. The intestines are part of the first line of defence system in our bodies and are also very rich in antibody-producing immune cells deeper within the intestinal membrane. Maintaining a healthy intes­tinal flora balance sets the stage for the immune system to respond. Probiotics are patented strains of intestinal flora and there are many different types. When buying, choose brands with from 50 billion to 450 billion per dose, and ensure the packaging is secure to keep the good-for-you bacteria alive. I like brands such as Bio-K+ and VSL#3 that need to be refrigerated because that keeps the live microbes viable longer. Both products can be found at health food stores, or can be ordered through your local pharmacy.

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Echinacea for immunity

Echinacea for immunity

This has been both panned and endorsed by medical professionals for its efficacy in preventing and minimizing cold symptoms. In 2013, Canad­ians will have spent almost $10 million on formulas containing it, according to national market research by Nielsen Market Track. Is that money wasted?

It depends on the formula you choose. The root and flower of the echinacea plant each contain different immune-boosting chemicals. A.Vogel’s Echina­force contains both plant parts, as does its Echinaforce Junior Echinacea Tabs for kids. Both are available at health food stores. I’m also a fan of Jamieson’s FluShield, which uses the root of Echinacea angustifolia, a species of the plant with high concentrations of immune-boosting polysaccharides.

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Sleep to get better, faster

If you do all the right things but still get a cold, there are many options for helping you get better faster.

Sleep is one of the most important things to get more of when you are fighting a cold. This can be tough when you are constantly waking up because of nasal congestion. I like nasal strips such as Breathe Right. They open the nasal passages naturally and efficiently (I also use them when I’m running or doing intensive cardiovascular exercise). They are strong adhesive strips that, when applied to the bridge of the nose, lift the nostrils and open the nasal passages so you’re able to breathe better. Nasal strips work instantly and all night long, and you can use them while you are using other cold products without worry­ing about any adverse interactions. They come in adult and kids’ sizes.

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sore throat

Cough suppressants to treat cold symptoms

There are many natural options available at both pharmacies and health food stores when buying cough formulas. Boiron Coryzalia Cold contains, among other ingredients, plant materials including allium cepa, sabadilla and pulsatilla, and helps with symptoms such as nasal congestion, runny nose and sneezing. To treat a wet or dry cough, Boiron Stodal Honey contains plant, mineral and animal ingredients including antimonium tartaricum, spongia tosta (roasted marine sponge) and drosera, and is made with a honey base to help soothe coughs. It doesn’t cause drowsiness. Both Coryzalia and Stodal have formulas that are safe for the whole family to use, even children who are under age six. I also find Nature’s Way Sambucus Flu Care bio-certified black elderberry syrup very effective. The original version is fine for both adults and children. It also comes in a sugar-free formula.

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