The Colds & Flu Report
|The Colds & Flu Report||Darrell Miller||06/18/05|
June 18, 2005 08:38 AM
Author: Darrell Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: The Colds & Flu Report
The Colds & Flu Report by Sherrill Williams Energy Times, October 13, 2004
The nose knows the misery of a cold: stuffiness, watery eyes, sore throat and nagging cough. These annoyances are especially frustrating when there's not enough time in your busy schedule to be sick.
Traditional remedies help: Slurping a cup of Grandma's chicken soup. Sweating in a hot bath. Climbing under the covers until further notice.
While no one can guarantee you won't catch a cold this year, a few simple measures can limit your sick days and give you the best chance to dodge upper respiratory distress. The common cold is a frequent and expensive problem, causing about 15 million lost work days for Americans each year. Some people seem just about immune to the group of viruses that cause colds. But others may endure as many as 12 colds per year. For the lucky ones, a cold's irritations last a couple of days. For the unfortunate, a cold can drag on for a couple of weeks.
Influenza (commonly known as the flu) has many of the same discomforts as a cold, and both disorders originate in the upper respiratory tract. But while a cold usually stays on tract, the flu is often accompanied by fever, prominent headaches and severe aches and pains around the body. Fatigue from the flu can last as long as two to three weeks during recovery. All this distress demonstrates that your body is fighting off the invaders.
Traditional healers advocate the use of the herb echinacea at the first sign of getting sick. Echinacea, commonly known as purple coneflower, is native to North America and was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia until the 1950s.
Rosemary Gladstar, a Vermont herbalist and author of Family Herbal (Storey Books), suggests taking echinacea (Echinacea ssp.) in frequent small amounts in tincture or tea form at the first sign of cold or flu.
" Most of the compounds in echinacea are water soluble, so it makes a fine tea," says Gladstar. She also encourages echinacea tea as a gargle or spray to relieve sore throats.
Research at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts validates what traditional healers such as Rosemary Gladstar have known: echinacea works best if taken at the onset of colds or flu. In an animal study, scientists found that echinacea triggered a humoral immune response, an immune reaction that spurs the production of special proteins that latch onto and destroy viruses (Immunopharmacology & Immunotoxicology 2003 Nov; 25(4):551-60).
In another study, researchers found that echinacea enhances immune actions called T cell subsets or helper cell activity (Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 2004 Jul; 27(7):1004-9). Helper cells are lymphocytes that take part in the destruction of viruses. In the quest for the kind of immunity that makes you less vulnerable to infection by troublesome viruses, Gladstar says that "echinacea is safe for children, the elderly and everyone in between."
C Is for Colds-And So Is E
The reputation of vitamin C as the anti-cold nutrient has been batted back and forth in the media for decades. Your body can't store up much of this antioxidant water-soluble vitamin, so you have to consume it every day on a regular basis. And while vitamin C may not prevent the common cold, research does demonstrate that it can help reduce a cold's severity and make it go away faster (Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics 1999 Oct; 22(8):530-3).
Adequate vitamin C is crucial for a healthy immune system. Even a marginal deficiency of this nutrient can leave you more vulnerable to the viruses that cause cold and flu. Plus, if you get a runny nose, researchers believe vitamin C can act as a mild antihistamine, slowing that runny nose to a walk.
In a University of Texas study reported at the 60th Anniversary meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in 2003, daily doses of vitamin C were shown to significantly aid immunity.
After two weeks of taking vitamin C, the people in this study had their blood examined. Researchers found increased numbers of NK (natural killer) cells, immune warriors that destroy infected cells. In addition, vitamin C activated T cells, a class of immune cells that also fight viruses.
And now a newsbreak: you can add vitamin E, vitamin C's antioxidant companion, to your cold prevention shopping list, at least if you're a senior citizen. According to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2004; 292(7):828-36), nursing home residents aged 65 and older who took vitamin E enjoyed a 20% risk reduction when it came to developing upper respiratory infections.
Don't Be Sick, Stay Happy
" When you smile, the whole world smiles with you" is a melody that is music to immunity. Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have found that folks who are relaxed, happy and maintain positive emotions are less likely to catch colds. In addition, people who are depressed, nervous or angry are more likely to complain of cold symptoms whether or not they actually have a cold (Psycho Med 2003 Jul; 65:652-7). According to Sheldon Cohen, PhD, "Study participants who had a positive emotional style weren't infected as often and experienced fewer symptoms compared to people with a negative emotional style."
So you don't have to be a passive cold victim this winter. When viruses threaten you, according to Mary L. Hardy, MD, you can also try:
" The first caution I give people is to get a good diagnosis," says Dr. Hardy. "If your cold is not acting like a normal cold, or if it has lasted more than a short amount of time, make sure you don't have a more serious condition, such as pneumonia." In that case, seek professional help.
But if you've contracted a run-of-the-mill winter cold, keep your spirits and immunity up! Even if you've been impulsively singing and dancing in the rain, the chill and wet won't result in a cold if you let a smile be your immune umbrella!