by Katherine Willow N.D.

From a holistic point of view, colds and flus are not a matter of catching a “bug”, they are about being off balance, physically and emotionally, through congestion, nutritional deficiency and significant stress.

The interesting thing is that the cold or flu is actually the body’s way of trying to re-establish our balance. These “illnesses” are healing symptoms, with a subsequent improvement in health if they are managed correctly—with rest, fluids, positive attitude, emotional healing and natural remedies.  Drugs are required in emergencies, when a person does not have enough vitality. Drugs do more harm than good during acute episodes if one is basically healthy by suppressing our bodies’ healing mechanisms.

In healing chronic conditions, even cancer, we see patients going through colds and flus as the body starts to detoxify, although we do our best to avoid this by treating slowly and carefully according to the person’s body type.

So how do we prevent these miserable conditions—even if they are supposed to be good for us?

  • Manage stress. Unmitigated fight or flight state is the number one immune buster. Often the cold or flu comes on during the “let-down” phase after a stress is resolved and we descend into let-down/recovery mode with its accompanying detoxification.
  • Sleep 7-9 hours, starting before 10pm when the energies begin to rise, in a fully darkened room, away from electronic equipment; dim lights after dinner to avoid suppression of melatonin which makes us sleepy to recharge our bodies after the stress of the day. Take small naps/rests during the day to pace energy. Good sleep is our best immune booster.
  • Movement helps keep toxins from congesting our body and manifesting in colds and flus.
  • Food that fits the season, warming and nourishing, with raw food in small servings gives us energy, balances our weight and keeps us de-congested; then we rarely need to have a cold or flu. Think non-wheat grains, lots of veggies, nuts, beans, grass-fed organic meat and poultry, wild fish, cold-pressed oils, herb teas and coffees, natural sweeteners and condiments. And the biggest food trick for most of us to avoid illness is: EAT LESS.
  • Do regular cleanses; include herbs for parasites. This is a HUGE flu preventive and overall perk.
  • Supplements include: vitamin A, C and D; echinacea in small doses a few days/week, garlic, digestive enzymes, adrenal support; elderberry concentrates in small doses, homeopathic flu prevention monthly and zinc are a few immune builders when life is stressful.
  • About the flu shot: I don’t recommend it unless a patient is afraid not to have it and use alternative methods to boost immunity and build health.

Treating a cold or flu:

  1. Fevers are therapeutic; only medicate if life-threatening.
  2. Stop eating or eat as lightly as you can. You can stop a flu/cold in its tracks if you do this immediately.
  3. Take echinacea, astragalus or elderberry extract, homeopathic aconite or oil of oregano. Everyone has their favourite, just take it IMMEDIATELY. Once the process takes hold, we’re usually down for a few days.
  4. Rest, rest, rest. If you can’t, you’ll probably be “sick” longer.
  5. Make sure bowels are regular.
  6. Stay warm: baths, hot compresses on chest, infra-red sauna (if feeling strong enough)
  7. Hot fluids: ginger tea, chicken broth, lemon water with raw honey, other herb teas.
  8. Stay positive and smile.
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