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Natural Therapies for Winter Colds: Dealing with the Season’s Unwanted ‘Gifts’

25 Dec 2017

As the holidays approach, seasonal weather and celebrations often bring surprises – unexpected visitors, gifts, parties…and colds. Getting exposed to a rhinovirus (the culprit behind what’s referred to as the common cold) might be unavoidable, but there are some natural, holistic approaches you can take to either keep the exposure from triggering an illness or at least lessening the severity and duration of the symptoms.

The Common Cold: The Basics

First, here are some basics you should know.

  • While we refer to a ‘cold,’ there are over 200 different rhinoviruses responsible for half of what’s also referred to as a URI (upper respiratory infection). The other viruses include influenza, coronavirus and more
  • Each separate virus triggers a slightly different immune response
  • You can have more than one of these viruses at a time
  • Antibiotics don’t help against viruses
  • The flu and colds have similar symptoms with a difference: colds rarely cause fevers in adults, although a slight fever may occur in children with a cold
  • The flu usually causes muscle aches, while a cold is centered in the respiratory system (coughing, runny nose, congestion, sneezing)

Why are colds more prevalent at this time of year? You might call it the perfect storm. We’re indoors more, we’re out in crowds (shopping, parties, etc), we’re likely to get less sleep, and then there’s the stress of all the activity, financial pressures, etc. All this can combine to make catching a cold or seasonal flu likely at some point in the season — when it couldn’t be more inconvenient.

Tips for Dealing with a Cold Naturally

You can start by arming yourself with a little natural defense.

  • Wash your hands frequently, and clean your door knobs often as well. Studies have shown that a cold virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours (only about 15 minutes on soft areas like tissues and hands)
  • Get outside often, especially on sunny days. Getting in a little natural Vitamin D will strengthen your body. Some recent scientific studies have indicated that exposure to the sun may play a role in activating the immune system as well. Plus the fresh air will be good for your mind as well as your body
  • Get plenty of good sleep; when you’re well rested your body is more able to fight off invaders
  • Take time out for meditation, yoga, prayer, or other relaxing, de-stressing practices
  • Cut back on indulging in the goodies.  We know, that’s a hard one, right? All those steaming mugs of hot chocolate after sledding or skating, those tempting holiday cookies and candies on the tray being passed around may delight your sweet tooth, but that sugar will make your immune system sluggish
  • Nibble on fresh fruits and nuts – the fiber can help boost your immune system; fill your plate with the rainbow – brightly colored produce that’s brimming with antioxidants and especially beta carotene. Generally, the more vividly colored a fruit or veggie is, the higher the vitamin content
  • Get regular massages – one of the best natural therapies for an overtaxed, stressed out body

Since massage therapy has been shown to help enhance healthier sleep, give the immune system a hand, and combat stress hormones, one of the best gifts you can give this holiday season is to treat yourself to some massage therapy. You’ll enjoy the benefits, and you’ll enjoy the season much more if you’re not sneezing and coughing – and so will everyone around you!

Don’t have a massage therapist you see regularly? Then the supervised student therapists at our Minneapolis massage school would be happy to see you in our Student Clinic. Give us a call to schedule a little preemptive strike against a winter cold!  (952) 562-5200.  





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