I just battled my first cold of the season, and I wanted to share with you my top picks for how to get through a common cold in as short and painless a time as possible. I will say, there are endless options when it comes to anti-virals and how to fight respiratory infections using herbs, so this is by no means an exhaustive list.
Here are some of my go-to's:
1. OIL OF OREGANO
This is the first responder. As soon as you have even an inkling that you may be getting sick, start dosing this at 3-5 drops every 3 hours, in 1 oz. water. It tastes awful, and it works. I think brand really does matter here, and my favourite is St. Francis Herb Farm Oreganum Plus 1:1. It's the super high-test stuff so you only need to take 2-3 drops every 3 hours. Do not take this dose beyond 10 days consecutively, as this may irritate your stomach lining.
This is a type of resin that bees use to line their hives. It has a particular affinity for the throat, and works wonders for sore throats. Again, take at the first sign that anything is awry. 2mL every 3-4 hours in 1 oz. water. Once again, it tastes awful and it works. (I only used this for the first 2 days until my sore throat was gone. After that, it was more of a sinus congestion thing, so I stopped taking the propolis.) Do not use beyond 10 days at this dose. *There are also propolis throat sprays on the market that I have not used myself, but I imagine would be very helpful. Once again, brand matters here, and I always use St. Francis Herb Farm. *Avoid if allergic to bee stings.
This is another go-to anti-viral, and it is even safe to use in pregnancy! I really like Mediherb Echinacea Premium, as it is the highest potency of a blend of 2 types of echinacea. However, this brand is only available through a Naturopathic Doctor, so if you are not a patient of mine, then use the St. Francis Echinace at 2mL every 3-4 hours in 1 oz. water. (After the first two days my sinuses were taking the brunt of the cold, so I changed from pure echinacea to a specific herbal blend for sinus infections which contained echinacea as well as some other sinus-specific herbs - this is where an ND comes in handy to find what works for your specific symptoms). Do not use beyond 10 days at this dose. *Avoid if have allergy to ragweed.
4. NETI POT
In case you don't know what this is, it is a magical little teapot that you pour into one nostril, and the water comes out the other side. Weird sounding?! Yes. Effective?! Incredibly. This really helps with congestion and dryness of the sinuses, and the irrigation helps to flush out any viruses that are holding on for dear life. Be sure to boil water for 5 minutes and allow to cool prior to adding to your netipot. Mix in 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Use 2x/day on the worst days and then 1x/day as the cold lingers until it clears. *This can be done daily or now and then as preventative treatment!
5. EUCALYPTUS STEAM INHALATION
This absolutely saved me on the worst days when it was 9pm and I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. Boil water. Once boiled, pour into a bowl, add 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil (any brand), put towel over your head like you're making a tent around the bowl, close your eyes and breathe in and out through your nose. It's intense. You may cough a bit. You can add 5 more drops of essential oil to the water once you can't smell it anymore. This only take less than 5 minutes to do, and your sinuses will feel so much more clear afterwards. Continue once (or more) per day for symptomatic relief from congestion.
Okay. Those are the tips that helped me whack a cold over its head and let me see the clear light of day in under a week. Additionally, I put a humidifier in my room at night, took a couple epsom salts baths (2 cups in a bath of hot water/end with 1-minute cold shower), avoided sugar, drank plenty of water and herbal teas, and got lots of sleep. I know. It sounds like a lot, and it is. But I'd much rather have 1 week where I'm doing everything I can so that it's over quickly, rather than a long drawn-out sickness that never seems to go away.
*And on that note...if you are trying your best to fight off a cold and it only seems to be worsening within a span of 7-10 days, then seek medical care from a ND or MD.
~Dr. Rush, ND