Do head colds knock you out of commission for two or three weeks? Do they frequently progress to bronchitis or pneumonia? Does a lingering cough drag on and on, sometimes for a month or more? Do you spend a small fortune on cough medicines, cold and flu combinations, and drugs that help you sleep through your misery?
That described me from the time I was a little child until half a dozen years ago. Nearly every head cold I had progressed to bronchitis or pneumonia. Every winter I was miserable. Then I decided to do something about it — and so can you.
Six years ago, I decided to break this cycle. I tried every cold remedy I could find that professed to work. Some did; others had no noticeable effect. I finally found a handful of products that continually worked for me and for my patients. I suggest taking some or all of them at the first sign of a cold. This usually tops the early symptoms in their tracks. I no longer get colds or bronchitis, and my lungs are stronger than ever.
Respiratory and immune problems become more common as we age and frequent colds and pneumonia can be warning signs of lowered immunity. Don’t wait to come down with more serious immune problems or depend on a flu shot. Flu shots protect against only a few specific strains of flu, and the vaccine contains contaminants you don’t want in your body like formaldehyde and a mercury derivative. For better, safer protection, here are the best cold remedies I’ve ever found. They helped me stop the cycle and they can help you, too.
One reason people get colds every year is due to a weakened immune system. The most effective immune-enhancing products I’ve ever used are medicinal mushrooms. To judge by the number of mushroom products flooding the market, they’re working for a lot of other people as well.
Mushrooms have been used in China for over 3,000 years to support the immune system, strengthen the lungs, and fight cancer. Some popular medicinal mushrooms include Agaricus, Cordyceps, Coriolus, Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake, and Umbellatus. There are dozens and dozens of scientific studies on each of these medicinal mushrooms that indicate their safety and effectiveness. You can find various mushroom combinations in health food stores. I personally use a strong formula that has been studied in clinical trials: MycoPhyto Complex (800-728-2288). It consists of six varieties of medicinal mushrooms grown on immune-enhancing herbs. The herbs strengthen the effects of the mushrooms. I take one capsule twice a day when I’m well, and more throughout the day if I’m coming down with a cold or flu.
Usnea, known to the Native American Indians as “the lungs of the earth,” is the best herb I know of to stop a cold in its tracks. As soon as I feel the slightest beginning of a sore throat or cold, or when I’ve been exposed to sick people, I take one dropper full of Usnea every hour until the symptoms are gone — usually from one hour to one day.
Usnea is a unique combination of lichen and fungus that live off one another. It’s both antibacterial and antiviral and will work on a cold, flu, or bacterial infection.
The active ingredients in Usnea are soluble in alcohol, so look for an alcohol-based tincture. A hot alcohol extraction is the most effective. You can find excellent Usnea tinctures from Herb Pharm (800-348-HERB) or Eclectic Institute (888-799-4372). Both may be found in some health food stores.
Zicam cold remedy
The good news is that Zicam works, and you can probably find it today at your local drugstore. Zicam Cold Remedy is a homeopathic nasal spray or gel containing zinc. You swab it inside your nostrils with their zinc-coated swabs every two hours at the first sign of a cold for one day, then just three times daily. There have been some reports of Zicam causing a loss of smell in one or two people. The theory is that the zinc spray was sprayed too far up the nasal passages and affected the sense of smell. Use the Zicam swabs instead. It gives the same protection with no risks.
A study of over 200 people found that Zicam shortens the duration of a cold by 75 percent. When I use it right away, along with medicinal mushrooms and Usnea, I don’t get a cold. It also works on its own.
Echinacea plus herb tea
Echinacea Plus herb tea, a blend of various immune-supporting varieties of Echinacea, is an inexpensive cold remedy made by Traditional Medicinals, Inc. Each tea bag contains the same amount of active ingredients as the next. This results in a consistently effective tea. Make sure that you steep the tea bag in boiling water for 10-15 minutes before drinking it for the highest potency.
Echinacea Plus was tested in a double-blind study. When people drank five to six cups of tea on the first day they had any cold symptoms, and reduced the amount each consecutive day by one cup, their colds averaged from one to two days. The control group had colds for six to 10 days. If Echinacea Plus is not in your local health food store or supermarket, call Natural Resources (800-747-0390).
Grape seeds and grape skin contain powerful antioxidants. One of them, a bio-flavonoid called proanthocyanidin, or PCO, is 20 times more potent than vitamin C. Perhaps that’s why Resveratrol Plus, a formula of grape seed extract, grape skin extract, and bio-flavonoids works so well to stop colds and flu (800-728-2288).
After a friend found it reduced his cold symptoms, I took two tablets three times a day at the first sign of cold symptoms and continued taking this amount for a few days after I was symptom-free. It worked! The ingredients in Resveratrol Plus strengthen capillaries, prevent blood clots, relax the walls of arteries to the heart, and destroy cancer cells, so now I take one tablet twice a day along with my other supplements. You can use it preventively, like I do, or just when you’re coming down with a cold or flu. Other resveratrol products are available in health food stores.
If all else fails — Clear Lung Plus
My brother, Hal, found this herbal remedy containing 10 percent colloidal silver, and it helped my mother when she had intractable bronchitis or pneumonia. The formula contains wild cherry, pleurisy root, comfrey, mullein, hyssop, hops, and marshmallow root — all excellent herbs for the lungs. The colloidal silver is an important ingredient with antibacterial and antiviral activities.
Clear Lung Plus is effective for wet or dry coughs, asthma, lung congestion, and phlegm. You can buy it directly from its formulator, Brian Roeteger, DC (310-457-1775 or firstname.lastname@example.org). A two-ounce bottle costs $20.95 and lasts about two weeks. If you find it works well for you, get the larger four-ounce size.