Many people throughout the world catch a common cold, especially during the winter season. A lot of cold victims do not always want to resort to pills. Are there alternative methods that would help strengthen the immune system to help treat and prevent a cold?
According to Wikipedia, the frequency of the common cold is 2 to 4 times per year for adults and six to eight times for children. The reasons are commonplace: we rarely get fresh air, are inactive, and do not follow a proper diet.
Want to prevent a cold this winter? Begin to prepare in advance for this challenging period for the immune system, strengthening it in a variety of ways! Then the medication will not be needed.
Can You Prevent A Cold?
By far, the most practical way to manage colds is to prevent them in the first place. A few easy adjustments to our daily routine can significantly decrease the possibility of spreading cold viruses within our surroundings.
To examine how to prevent a cold, we must consider how we catch one to begin with. You can catch a cold through two ways:
- Hand contact
- Droplet or mist contact
Hand contact is the most frequent way to catch a cold. If you touch a person with a cold or something that they touched, sneezed, or coughed on, the virus can be transferred to your hand. (Note: Cold viruses can remain infectious for about two hours on your skin and up to 24 hours on solid surfaces)
You then proceed to unconsciously touch your face with your infected hand. This action helps the virus enter into your nose or eyes.
One study showed that people in public areas touched their face 3.6 times per hour on average, and touched objects in their vicinity 3.3 times per hour.
Then, to prevent catching a cold due to hand contact, you need to make a conscious effort not to touch your face in case you touched something that had the cold virus on it.
If you need to touch your face do it with the back of your hand, or better yet, wait until you wash your hands or disinfect them. This will unquestionably help to prevent a cold, or at least put the odds seriously in your favor.
Droplet Or Mist Contact
This is the second most frequent way of catching a cold. You breathe in droplets or a mist from someone talking, sneezing, yelling, or coughing that has a cold. The virus flies through the air and lands on your face.
Sadly, there is no practical way to evade exposure to these droplets or mist. Preventing the spread of colds like this is the responsibility of the person with the cold.
If you are suffering from a cold, wash your hands regularly, do your best not to touch your face, and if you need to cough or sneeze, do into your elbow. Better still, wear a mask.
There is some reasonable evidence that masks help to lessen the passage of cold viruses to others.
Similarly, coughing or sneezing into your elbow may also work because it stops you from discharging the virus into your hands, which then you can easily contaminate things around you.
A mask may prevent you from giving your cold to others, and fortunately, it may also decrease your chances of catching one.
Can A Common Cold Be Treated?
Modern advancements in medicine have achieved what people would have thought of as impossible one or two hundred years ago. So, why is it so difficult to find an effective treatment for the common cold?
The procedural means that modern medicine regularly uses to control viral infections are vaccines first, antiviral medications second, and symptomatic treatment as the last resort.
Generally, the first line of defense against a viral infection is vaccines. The conventional vaccinations that many infants and children get have been immensely successful in eradicating some horrific diseases that frightened the world less than one hundred years ago.
So, why is it difficult to make a vaccine for colds? The reason is there are too many types of viruses that can cause the common cold.
Unfortunately, they don’t have much in common in terms of creating an effective vaccine. Consequently, it is unlikely that one will be created in the near future, although it has been attempted in the past.
So, if a cold cannot be treated with vaccines, can antivirals be effective?
Antiviral medications have become more accessible in the recent past and have worked in treating some viral infections.
However, to date, there is no antiviral medication that works for a common cold
Many studies have repeatedly shown that they are ineffective against colds. Simply put, “there are no licensed effective antivirals for the common cold.“
So, if the above two defenses are ineffective, then the next best remedy left is to try to treat the symptoms themselves.
There is no cure for the common cold, so we must treat it with the objective in mind for a quick recovery and make ourselves as comfortable as possible throughout the misery.
Treatments For Colds (Supported By Science)
Some of the common natural treatments you may have heard about to help treat or prevent a cold are at best unclear, inconsistent, or a high risk of bias.
With this said, I will provide you with up-to-date evidence of substances or activities that has been proven by science with studies done on people that either treat or prevent a cold.
Pelargonium sidoides is a perennial medicinal plant native to South Africa. It is extensively used for colds, the flu, and chest infections for both children and adults.
A study done on 207 people showed how potent and effective Pelargonium sidoides is in treating a cold.
Also, the researchers compared the cold-fighting benefits of P. sidoides to conventional OTC treatments, such as zinc, vitamin C, etc., and none of them was any match. P. sidoides was much more potent than all of them.
More interesting, P. sidoides has been recently (in the last week or so) added as up-to-date management for the common cold internationally. Now, this demonstrates its importance in treating the cold.
In another study published in 2018, it was also proven that P. sidoides is safe for children.
You can find P. sidoides in the USA under the name Umcka Coldcare, and in Europe as Umckaloabo.
Matcha tea is the most potent green tea. It has 10 times the amount of antioxidants than you would find in your traditional green tea. It is also considered as the highest-ranked food source in antioxidant power, according to the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) Scale.
Matcha is also considered to have the highest concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a particularly potent antioxidant that can seriously boost your immune system.
In a controlled study conducted on people, it showed that Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) lessened the duration of the cold by two days, it prevented the cold in some, and lessened the symptoms in others.
It has been shown that keeping the immune system working at optimal levels will help you get sick less.
Studies have shown that moderate exercise will boost your immune system and may help you in preventing you from catching a cold.
Overtraining or too much exercise will do the opposite. It drains your immune system, making it easier for a virus such as the cold to invade your body.
The objective is to listen to your body. It will give you signs when you are overtrained. Notably, small aches and pains, more extended recovery periods, losing sleep, loss of appetite, etc.,
Improved immune system strength that you get from exercising can prevent acute respiratory infection (ARI) sickness that is associated with a cold.
However, studies done with people has proven that meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, and exercise, performed together would help you prevent a cold even better. The studies went further and determined that between the two, meditation is more potent in helping to prevent a cold or ARI.
It appears that mindfulness meditation will help you stay more in tune with your bodily sensations and make you less stressed from the misery of a cold.
Maoto (Ma-Huang-Tang) has been widely prescribed as a treatment for the common cold. It is used regularly by people in Japan and is covered by their health insurance. Clinical studies have shown that it is effective at treating the symptoms of a cold.
It can be used by both children and adults without any side effects.
Maoto is a formula made up of different components:
- 5 grams of ephedra herb
- 5 grams of apricot kernel
- 4 grams of cinnamon bark
- 1.5 grams of glycyrrhiza root
The elements of Ma-HuangTang were evaluated in a separate scientific study, and it was determined that they inhibited the replication of respiratory viruses.
If you are seriously interested in making your own, this will help you get started.
This compound has been proven in a clinical study that it can both treat and prevent a cold.
The study experimented with students during the winter season. The results showed that Andrographis had a 33% protective effect against colds. That is a noteworthy difference.
In another study, Kanjang tablets, which is the standardized Andrographis paniculata extract that was developed by the Swedish Herbal Institute, also had amazing results. It treated the symptoms and shortened the period of the cold.
In a review done in 2004 on seven human studies, examining the safety and efficacy of Andrographis, it was determined that this natural substance not only treats the symptoms but can also prevent a cold. And adverse effects were practically non-existent.
You can find this product on Amazon if you wish to purchase it.
Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc Supplements, And Echinacea
Although studies done on vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc supplements, and echinacea appear to be inconclusive or contradictory within the scientific community, they are worth mentioning because they seem to be able to reinforce all parts of your immune system.
Common sense will dictate that a more robust immune system will provide you with extra protection against viruses like the common cold.
In a new study that was published in March 2020, the Korean military conducted a study on 1,444 soldiers.
The study was divided into two groups. Six hundred ninety-five participants received 6000 mg/day of vitamin C, while 749 received a placebo. The study lasted for thirty days. The results of the study were as follows:
The vitamin C group had a 0.80-fold lower risk of catching a cold than did the placebo group.
Further examinations showed that the beneficial effects of vitamin C were even stronger among participants who never smoked and were in better physical health.
In another clinical trial done on people in 1999, it showed that taking megadoses of vitamin C before or after the appearance of cold and flu symptoms decreased the symptoms by 85%.
In randomized controlled studies done throughout the world where more than 11,000 people were involved, from the age of 0-95 years old, vitamin D was used to see if it had any effects on colds and flu, sinusitis, etc., (Acute Respiratory Tract Infections).
The review of these studies showed that vitamin D could reduce the risk of getting any kind of upper respiratory infections, which includes the common cold. The study also showed that vitamin D would work even better for those that were deficient in the vitamin.
This evidence is too strong to be ignored.
Recommended dosages for vitamin D can be found here.
A review was done on zinc supplements to determine if it helps to combat the common cold.
Seven randomized trials were reviewed, with a total of 575 participants. It was determined that zinc supplements as a whole decreased the severity of colds by 33%. So, if a cold lasts typically seven to ten days, zinc may be able to cut it down to 2.3 to 6.6 days. That is a significant difference and it may be worth taking zinc supplements at the onset of the first cold symptoms.
In July 2019. a scientific review was published describing the incredible role of zinc for antiviral immunity against many viruses, including the common cold.
In a more recent scientific abstract written about zinc, dated April 14, 2020, it stated that “zinc has a significant impact on viral infections” through several different methods. It then went on to emphasize that the new “… findings along with the existing data on the role of zinc in immunity raised interest to the potential use of zinc in prevention and/or treatment of common cold.” (See, 3. Zn and respiratory viruses)
It is also suggested that you start taking zinc supplements within 24 hours of any noticeable cold symptoms for better efficacy.
In a study done on 755 healthy people, it showed that if you take echinacea for four months, It will reduce your chances of catching a cold.
The common cold may be benign for some people and may last seven to ten days. Still, for others, it can be torturous and even deadly, particularly for people that already have a respiratory disease such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or asthma.
At times, if colds are ignored, even by the very healthy, they can turn to pneumonia. Viruses have a strange way of causing harm to your health. They are unpredictable.
If you catch a cold, attend to it immediately. Pay attention to your body and how it is reacting to it. Also, if you have a cold, let those in your surrounding know this, so you do not infect them inadvertently.
Washing your hands, paying conscious attention to not touching your face, and keeping some distance from people that appear to have a cold is probably the best way to prevent a cold.
If you get sick, the information that has been provided in this article will undoubtedly help you get healthy fast.
As always, speak to your doctor first if you have any questions about any of the substances that were shared in this article.