Comes the fall, and the winter, and we believe this is flu season. We expect our kids to get sick, and then we suffer from coughs, sore throats, stuffy noses, fevers; we’re under the weather, we sneeze and sniffle.
What makes this all happen?
A virus, we think. A bug.
This is our current model of disease: an invisible virus attacks us, poor helpless mortals, and makes us sick.
The model holds that the only way to resist is through chemical means: we expect to prevent the flu through getting vaccinated with killed flu virus, or we kill the bugs with antibiotics.
Except that lots of people who get vaccinated actually end up getting the flu, a very bad one at that; and antibiotics kill bacteria, not virus, so that if we get better it could be just the placebo effect.
The model does not explain why there are people who, even when “exposed,” unvaccinated, to the flu, don’t get it.
There are those who get such a mild form that they’re well within a day or two, instead of two weeks.
There are those who never get colds.
And then there are those who stop getting them after they change their diet.
How could that be, if the cause of illness were exclusively the invisible virus?
The Western scientific model does not have all the answers
It is just one of many. There are other models of disease.
For example, the holistic model holds that minor sickness is simply an attempt at healing: colds and flu, fevers and stomach aches, pimples and bad breath, and other conditions that Western science considers infectious or degenerative, all could be the body’s attempt at maintaining homeostasis, the inner balance that supports life.
Virus or bacteria can only “cause” disease if the terrain is fertile — if the body is toxic, or tired, or damaged.
Each of us has a personal belief system about the nature of disease.
Some of us subscribe to the Western model of the body as dumb mechanism, like a car: if something goes wrong, we better do something, or else it will get worse and we die.
Others, including myself, believe that the body is a self-healing organism, and the best way to stay healthy is to work with it and find what it needs to proceed with its self-healing.
I believe that illness gives us information, and we better listen.
What do you believe, in the depths of your heart? Your belief system will determine what type of medicine you seek.
How to heal from a cold fast?
Through much personal experience, I have found that colds, for example, come in several varieties; there is no single “common” cold, and for that reason, most remedies work for some cases and not others.
Generally I divide colds into two types: expansive and contractive (according to Traditional Chinese Medicine).
An expansive cold appears when our body needs to get rid of some toxic or useless matter, and discharges it via the mucous membranes of the respiratory system.
We often get these from consuming too much dairy, sweets, juices, ice cream.
The symptoms are familiar: we cough, sneeze, and drip, but are capable of going to work; there is little if any fever, although there is plenty of discomfort.
Sometimes this cold can be stopped with something salty (contractive); my favorite remedy is one “umeboshi” plum, a pickled plum obtainable in health food stores.
If it doesn’t work, it’s because the body really needs to clean out the old debris and the cold just needs to proceed. Then we walk a fine line between allowing the process, yet not feeding it extra matter and worsening it.
Here is how I like to manage this type of cold with diet:
Drink only modest amounts of fluid, avoid protein and fats, eat lots of cooked vegetables, soups, and garlic.
A contractive cold is also called the flu. This type often appears as a response to stress, tension, and overwork. Sometimes it’s the only way we allow our beleaguered body to take a rest: we are so conscientious, and we work so hard, and we take care of so many people except ourselves, that sooner or later our poor bodies crash and force us to stop running. In other cases, the contractive cold or flu appears just when we relax, as we lower our guard; this is why we so often get sick on vacation. The symptoms include feeling bad and achy all over, fever, stuffiness, congestion; we may feel bad enough to be unable to work. In the case of a contractive cold, I find the following most helpful:
No food, but lots of warm and hot fluids, including herbal teas, juices, water. Rest, sleep, no work.
The earlier in the process we rest, the sooner the flu will come to an end. For example, I am prone to these “stress colds”; I found that when I feel one coming on, if I just take the morning off from work and sleep an extra two hours, I nip it in the bud and the sickness just never materializes.
In addition to the above, here are some of my favorite remedies for cold and flu symptoms.
For strengthening the immune system:
– 1 clove garlic every 4 hours. Cut up the clove into several little pieces, and swallow without chewing with a few sips of juice. Do only for one or two days.
– Echinacea herbal tea.
For sore throats:
– Slippery elm herbal tea, or lozenges.
– Cold water compress: take a dishtowel, fold lengthwise in thirds, wet in cold tap water and wring out. Wrap around your neck, cover by wrapping with a dry towel, secure the whole thing with a scarf. Go to sleep. Remove the compress 4 hours later, or when it becomes bothersome.
For cough and chest congestion:
– Hot pear juice with cinnamon.
– Any spicy soup. Hot spices loosen phlegm.
– Ginger tea: simmer three or four slices of ginger in a cup of hot water for five or six minutes. Drink hot.
And finally, if you don’t know which type of cold you have, here is a drink that will restore any imbalance.
FOUR FLAVORS TEA
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp natural soy sauce
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
juice of 1/2 lemon
dash of hot sauce or 1/2 tsp grated gingerroot
1 cinnamon stick
1. Place the water in a large mug, add the rest of the ingredients, stir with the cinnamon stick, and sip slowly over several hours.
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