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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Home Therapies for the Common Cold: Dr. Barrie Zeller shares some remedies that can help reduce symptoms and length of illness

Jan 31, 2014 09:01AM ● By By Dr. Barrie Ann Zeller

There is nothing more irritating than coming down with a cold. Some people feel it more in their sinuses, while for others it is a runny nose or sore throat, and still others get a combination of symptoms. The common cold, sinusitis and laryngitis all fall under the umbrella term of upper respiratory infection (URI). The upper respiratory tract encompasses the sinuses, nasal passages, larynx and pharynx. For respiration, outside air moves through these structures and then into the lower respiratory tract, which includes the trachea and lungs.

Symptoms of a URI may include a stuffy or runny nose, hoarseness, a sinus infection, cough, sore throat and lethargy, and are common reasons for doctor visits and a frequent reason for missed work.

Viruses are the main cause of URIs and most eventually resolve on their own. The best defense is to bolster our immune system, avoid anyone with symptoms and wash our hands regularly. If we begin to have symptoms like sneezing, runny nose and cough, be sure to cover the mouth and nose with the crook of the arm instead of using the hands, to decrease the spread of germs.

URIs can last a few days up to three weeks. Staying home and resting is highly recommended, but not always an option. While there is no cure for the common cold, there are several home remedies that can help reduce symptoms and length of illness:

  • Avoid dairy (increases mucus).
  • Avoid sugar and processed foods.
  • Consume onions and garlic, leeks and green leafy veggies. Add to a vegetable or chicken broth.
  • Increase fluid intake.
  • Steam inhalation for sinusitis.
  • Use a netti pot for sinuses and post-nasal drip.
  • Nasosympatico, a concoction of herbs and essential oils for a stuffy nose to help clear nasal passages.
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) 400 to 600 mg to thin mucus.
  • Vitamin C; start at 500 mg and then double the dose for two days. Double again to 2,000 mg and can go up to 3,000 mg a day. Some people will have loose stools and if so, will need to decrease the dose.
  • Vitamin D; at least 2,000 IU per day.
  • Probiotics at least once a day, taken with a meal, to help promote healthy gut flora.
  • Elderberry syrup for excessive mucus, cough and sore throat.

If symptoms increase or new symptoms occur, such as shortness of breath, fever, nausea and vomiting, see a doctor as soon as possible. Naturopathic physicians have many therapies for URIs, including acupuncture, nutrient IV, homeopathy, botanicals and breathing treatments.

Barrie Ann Zeller, NMD, of Zest Natural Medicine, 1405 N. Dobson Rd., Ste. 20, Chandler, can be reached at 480-361-5108 or


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