How you treat acute cold and flu symptoms impacts your risks of getting chronic illness. Use natural remedies this season to improve health and prevent long term health problems.

As a naturopathic physician trained under the primary principle of “treat the cause, not the symptom”, I can not help myself when it comes to educating the public about their health care choices regarding acute health concerns like cold and flu. All to often in our current medical culture we disregard the effect of our choices and the long term impact that this creates on the health of the individual. When it comes to cold and flu, there is a plethora of over-the-counter treatments that do the exact opposite of “treating the cause”. This includes medicines such as Tylenol PM, Robitussin cold/flu, Acetaminophen, Motrin, etc… All you have to do is go into the drug store or pharmacy and you will see the endless rows of suppresive symptom therapies.

I get it! When you are not feeling well, you want it to go away as fast as possible so you can get back to your life. Our culture has forgotten about the concept that when we are sick, we need to slow down and rest. We tend to look for the quickest way to avoid the perceived suffering and discomfort that occurs with acute illness. The problem with this approach is that the inappropriate management of acute illness (meaning the use of over-the-counter medication to suppress symptoms), sets up the environment in the body to have greater problems down the road. You should now be asking yourself what those problems might be. Well it is chronic illness! Conditions such as auto-immunity, cancer, heart disease and diabetes are rampant in our lives. An important thing to remember is that chronic illness is multi factorial, meaning it has many different causes and I am here to inform you that how you treat your acute health concerns is one of those causes.

Now that I have that out of the way, I am going to give you some great options on treating acute cold and flu symptoms with much safer treatments that do not contribute to your probability of getting chronic illness. Yay!!!

#1 Hydrotherapy- use alternating hot and cold applications on the body to improve circulation. There is a great treatment called warming socks, where you put a pair of cotton socks under cold water, wring them out and then put them on the feet. You then sleep with them on and this improves blood circulation and immune function. Another form of hydrotherapy is to apply a cold wash cloth application over the throat and then insult with a towel or scarf. Then allow the body to warm up the towel. This will improve symptoms through circulation. You can also use the shower to do contrast hydrotherapy by going back and forth between hot and cold water. I would also like to inform you here of the benefits of using castor oil topically to move lymphatic fluid. You can apply castor oil over the neck and chest when dealing with cold and flu symptoms.

#2 Food as medicine- when you are sick you should fast the body, this means that you rest the digestive system to allow more energy to become available for the immune system. The best things to be eating when you are acutely sick are soups and broths made exclusively with veggies. My favorite is Bieler’s Broth, here is a link . This broth will help alkalize the body and reduce acidity which aids in the anti-inflammatory response.

#3 Use Homeopathics and botanical medicines- to often when people are sick they are reaching for OTC medications to suppress symptoms. Medicines such as Tylenol Cold/flu, nasal decongestants and many other treatments only push the acute reaction back into the body. This type of short term thinking is what will compromise the integrity of the immune system and the ability of the body’s functional state to maintain long term proper immune status. There is plethora of different natural therapies that can be used depending on the specific profile of reaction that you are having. Either speak to a natural health care practitioner to have individual prescribing of correct treatments, or research on your own and find the remedies unique to your situation.

I encourage you to keep in mind that you have tremendous power when it comes to your choices. Choose health today and see the benefits down the road.


Naturopathic physician who is educating people about their health in order to empower them to practice self care.