This is a time of the year when many start to complain about cold and flu-like symptoms. In reality, in North America, the flu season peaks in February but it does begin in the month of October and generally ends around the end of April. In the southern hemisphere, the season is opposite and coincides with the "cold months" down under.
The incidents of common cold infections also increase at this time of year. While there is mostly just theory as to the cause, it is believed that it is because at this time of year, we spend more of our time indoors and in close contact with others that could be contagious. This provides for a fast and efficient way for viruses to spread.
Being sick with either the common cold or flu can have serious effects. While flu infections can have far worse consequences, common colds are also very uncomfortable to deal with and although they are 'common', it does not mean that suffering while being infected is not downright miserable. Being sick with a cold can be debilitating and although some make jokes about it such as, "oh, they only have a cold," when you're suffering from one, it can certainly keep you from being able to function at a high rate.
A high functioning immune system will reduce your risk of catching the cold or virus, but you can't always count on every preventative measure that you take. Even just a little bit of additional stress can affect your immune system and allow a virus to take over. And with the common cold, although many people believe it is just a one or two day event, under normal circumstances, the cold virus will affect you for a minimum of seven days! Quite often, it can last up to weeks at a time as well.
"When will they ever find a cure for the common cold?" is a question that is asked and joked about frequently. Unfortunately, because the cold is virus based and not bacterial, it is not really possible to treat as bacterial infections are. If your doctor is prescribing antibiotics to treat your cold or flu, it's probably time to find a new doctor. Antibiotics have absolutely no affect on either the cold or flu viruses.
However, there are preventative measures for both the cold and flu. While it has been rather controversial in the past, there is strong evidence that flu vaccinations do work, as long as you get it before you have been exposed to a flu virus. We realize that there are many who have some reasons for being suspicious of flu vaccinations, and there are debatable points on both sides about its efficacy as well as any side effects that might result – but either way, this is something you should talk to your doctor about if you are concerned. Don't merely rely on what others tell you, but do some real research which includes looking at scientific studies that have been done.
At the same time, there are some things that you can naturally do to either decrease the risk of catching the cold or flu, or while suffering from either, minimize the symptoms and perhaps even speed up the process of letting it run its course. As mentioned above, stress can weaken your immune system, so get lots of rest and don't skimp on your sleep.
We've also discovered that there are both foods and herbs/spices that show very positive results in helping you to strengthen your immune system both before and during an illness with these viruses. Did you know that children who regularly consume yogurt have less incidences of being sick with the cold or flu? Yogurt has many health benefits, too many to list here, so we've summarized some of them, including that about a strengthened immune system, here.
And do you want to know about spices that can help? How about one of our favorites, cinnamon? Who knew that this favorite spice, for its aroma and taste, could have so many healing and preventative quantities, including fighting against and fighting off cold and flu viruses? Read more about cinnamon here.
There are a few different spices and herbs that have a high ORAC value and therefore are quite likely to be helpful to your body in fighting off any number of infections. Cinnamon of course is one of them; so do turmeric, oregano, and cloves. Add these to your diet as much and as often as you can.
And while we're talking about cold remedies, let's not forget Grandma's favorite: chicken soup. While it won't cure your cold, studies show that it can help relieve some symptoms because of the fact that it contains an amino acid called cysteine. Cysteine will help to thin mucus making it easier for you to expel it. Your cold may not go away any faster, but you might feel better with this well recognized "comfort food."
Think about what you can do to help your immune system fight off any exposure to these viruses. But if you do happen to "catch" one, keep in mind there might be some things you can do to reduce symptoms and maybe even fight it off faster!
To your good health, beauty, and happiness!
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