Prevention, of course, cannot be mentioned enough. Here are a few things that I feel are worth mentioning, the first of which are showers. Most people in this day and age treat themselves to a wonderfully hot shower to start their day. This unfortunately opens up most of you to catching a quick cold. When you take a hot shower most of you will notice that within five minutes the hot water you started with is not hot enough, so you increase the heat and keep doing so until your shower is over. The scientific explanation is that your body’s temperature-regulating mechanisms have reacted to the extreme heat by trying to cool your body. Perspiration and the shunting of blood have resulted in you sensing a change of temperature of the hot water. If you go outside after a shower, you have the double effect of your body being in a cooling down mode as well as the immediate environment throwing your body into further cooling resulting in a decreased body temperature which is directly related to decreased immune function.
The more effective way to shower and to stimulate your immune system is to take a hot shower for five minutes then follow that with a one-minute cold shower. This stimulates your body’s circulation and is not long enough to cause your body’s cooling mechanism to kick in. The hot followed by cold sends mixed messages to your nervous system, which only reacts by increasing blood flow and immune function. When attempting this, at first, be careful not to make the cold treatment too cold.
The second and most important thing to note is that if you are under extreme stress, you should take extra precautions to keep warm and to maintain a healthy diet. People under extreme stress can disable their immune system. Simply put, your mind can tell your body, “No, I can’t get sick right now, I have too many important things to do.” The mechanism of how this works is quite simple. Your emotions originate in an area of the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system sends messages to the hypothalamus/pituitary causing it to release a hormone called ACTH.
ACTH stimulates the adrenal glands (commonly referred to as your stress glands) to release cortisol. Cortisol works quite similarly to its synthetic counterpart cortisone, which is an anti-inflammatory hormone. Cortisol increases the white blood cell count within the body but stops the white blood cells from moving to the peripheral circulation where they are most needed. So, in essence, what happens is that you are stressed and you get exposed to a virus or bacteria, which enters your body unchecked. As soon as your adrenals stop functioning, your white blood cells can go to the peripheral circulation and start doing battle with the invader causing you to experience symptoms.
The symptoms of getting sick are just an expression of your immune system working at its best. Today most diseases are the result of immune suppression, the worst being cancer and AIDS. I strongly recommend you do not utilize some of the bewildering arsenal of weapons found in your neighbourhood drugstore. These simply stop the symptoms of the cold by disabling your immune system and in most cases they do this very effectively. Antihistamines are just that, they activate histamine, which is a chemical that activates your body’s immune response.
I’m certain all of you have friends or family that avidly pronounce to you that they never get colds. They go about disregarding their health by eating poor diets, drinking and smoking excessively. These people are in fact too sick to get colds. Their whole body is toxic and their immune system is so debilitated that they can no longer react to external pathogens. These people are prone to chronic debilitating diseases.
One of the symptoms most commonly found with colds is fever. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once stated, “Give me a fever and I will cure all disease.” Only recently in a much-publicized fashion did the medical profession reveal that fevers are good. Naturopaths, homeopaths and other proponents of alternative health care have long held that fever is good and very productive. It is the body’s attempt to stimulate its own immune system into action to destroy pathological bacteria. These pathological bacteria usually have a very narrow optimum temperature range. Being pathological, they live within the normal range of human temperature and can actively reproduce. As the body temperature rises the bacteria cannot reproduce and the body’s defences gradually engulf and destroy the bacteria faster than they can reproduce. The symptom of fever should not be thwarted unless it gets too high, (above 103 degrees F.)
A cold is a complex of symptoms reflecting the body’s internal attempts at trying to maintain harmony or homeostasis by rectifying imbalances. The original causes of the imbalances within the body are usually multiple. Improper diet is the single most influential factor. An excess of refined carbohydrates and dairy products will cause an increase in mucus making the organs of elimination work harder to get rid of the perfect breeding ground for pathological bacteria.
The best treatment for a cold is a liquid diet, lots of hot teas, (peppermint acts as a diaphoretic causing sweating), rest and a few of the following:
Hydrotherapy–in the old black and white movies you often saw someone who was chilled or who felt a cold coming on taking a hot footbath. This stimulates the immune system by increasing the body’s internal warmth without stimulating any neurological pathways that would result in a cooling response (as I indicated in the shower section above). The water in the footbath should be as hot as you can stand for twenty minutes. Afterwards pat dry your feet and put on two pairs of woollen socks. This therapy does two things; it stimulates the immune system and causes the body’s reflex mechanism to shunt blood from areas of congestion (i.e. the throat and sinuses) to the area of greater congestion (now the feet). If you have a sore throat, place a cold damp towel around your neck while doing the hot footbath.
Salt Water Nasal Douche–opens up the sinuses by removing mucous accumulations.
Gargling with hot salted water–in the case of a sore throat gargling with hot salted water proves very effective in soothing the area as well as creating an environment in which bacteria cannot thrive.
Other natural therapeutics that are at my disposal are Chinese and Western botanical medicines and homeopathy. These three medical systems are very effective in any situation when used correctly. You will find with the above recommendations that most colds will resolve themselves quite quickly. If you suffer from prolonged colds or you find the above remedies ineffective, I suggest you seek professional help with someone who is well-versed in natural therapeutics.