Tag Archives: Herbal Remedies

The misery of the common cold

January is, without a doubt, peak cold season.

common cold cartoon

At the moment it is hard to find a group of people who can stay silent for any longer than a few seconds without breaking into a chorus of coughing and hacking, punctuated by the occasional nose blow reminiscent of a large cruise liner docking.  A lot of people start off with a cold and then it hits their chest, becomes infected and they end up on antibiotics for a chest infection, or worse.

Medical science has not yet found a cure, so it is back to the herbal remedy cupboard to find some soothing assistance for this annual misery.  I have to say, I find having a cold in the winter, easier to deal with than a cold in the summer, and that is partly due to the fact that a lot of the remedies suggested are quite comforting when it is cold, damp or even snowy outside.  Less so when it is hot, dry and sunny.

cold virus

So, what happens when you are infected with the common cold virus?  Your body reacts to the foreign invader, and it starts to create thick mucus to stop the virus in its tracks.  Often, the mucus will drip down the back of your throat (also known as post nasal drip) and that can lead to a sore throat, and is one way in which the cold moves onto your chest.  (I apologise if you are eating while reading this… not pleasant imagery!)  The other way is that the virus just goes to the lungs and the mucus is created there in an effort to cease the invasion, making it difficult and very unpleasant to breathe as well as causing those trademark coughs.


The first key thing is to keep warm and introduce heat to the body.  Hot water bottles, cups of tea and the old standard of chicken soup are all great for this.  Being wrapped up in a big old quilt also works a treat.  The extra warmth loosens mucus and makes it easier to cough up and get rid of.  This is the key to recovery from a cold.  You have got to get rid of that mucus, and with it, as much of the virus as you can.

Another way to make the mucus easier to get rid of is to stay hydrated. The more hydrated you are, the thinner the mucus is and the easier it is to get rid of.  You need to limit drinks with caffeine and alcohol because they are diruetics.  Water is perfect, though I would suggest using warm water or room temperature water.  I think most of us have experienced the coughs if you drink very cold water after being warm.  This reaction would be even more pronounced if you already have a mucus issue.


If you are blowing your nose regularly, and you should be – not just after you sneeze but also after you cough, every time – then we all know the “Rudolph” look where your nose becomes red and angry and chapped and sore.  Frankly, it is miserable.  Petroleum jelly is a good thing to put on the chap, or you can use an unscented face cream.  Obviously you could use balm tissues as well, which will take longer to produce the redness, but I also find that using toilet paper instead of tissues is really good as well.

If you have a sore throat as well as the mucus, then a warm salt water gargle will work a treat.  1 teaspoon of salt in a small glass of water, then toss it back in your throat, but prevent yourself from swallowing it.  Salty water is NOT a good thing to swallow.  This was a common remedy in our household when I was growing up, and frankly it used to make me feel nauseous in the extreme, but it did help.


Obviously, prevention is always better than cure, and to try and stop getting it, you can use supplements of Vitamin C, Zinc or Echinacea.  Zinc can suppress the immune system if you use it consistently over a long period of time, so you need to take it for 2 weeks, rest for 2 weeks and repeat.  Also, eating a balanced diet will help build your immune system and may even prevent you from getting a cold in the first place.

stop the spread

You can also do our part in preventing the spread of the misery.  If you are feeling rough, then stay at home.  Once you are better, I suggest steam cleaning the house and surfaces you might have touched after coughing or sneezing.  That way if one person gets it, it is not inevitable that the entire household gets it.  In addition, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.  Use a tissue for preference, but if you do use your hand, then use antibacterial hand gel straight after.  Wash your hands often and always dispose of your tissues appropriately.  In a bin, which is regularly emptied is better than just leaving them lying about.

Recovery from a cold is really the application of common sense, and I hope, if you are currently suffering, you make a swift recovery.


Surveillance instead of treatment for Low and Intermediate risk Prostate Cancer

As I woke up this morning , I heard on the radio that the National Health Service (I am based in the UK) has suggested that patients suffering from Low and Intermediate risk Prostate Cancer should merely be watched and observed rather than actively treated for the disease. (See this link for more details http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/prostate-cancer-surveillance-instead-treatment-2999412)

from the guardian

from the guardian

My ears pricked up at this. Surely, I thought, it would be better to treat the disease rather than just watch it from afar. So, I did some research.

Prostate Cancer can be very slow growing, and patients within the low and intermediate risk groups will be the patients where this is the case. From my reading, it appears that there are many men who are never even diagnosed with prostate cancer and it is only discovered when they die. The article I read says that patients would be “monitored with blood tests, biopsies and physical checks to see how the cancer is developing.”

Anything is better than invasive surgery and all the potential issues that could cause. Although it would be nice to think that they have the best interests of the patients at heart, my cynical side does rather suspect it is due to surgical interventions being so expensive to the National Health Service.

How can Herbalism help in these sorts of cases?

Herbal remedies do not cure diseases or illnesses, and I would suggest you be cautious of any which claim such things. Herbal remedies instead support and bolster the natural healing power of each body. The body is an amazing machine, and each and every one of us has the power to heal ourselves. The Chinese call this healing energy Chi, and I am sure other cultures have other names for it, but the essence is that the body WANTS to be well. To achieve that wellness the body needs to be in balance. Anything which is out of balance will cause illness.

I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that herbal remedies can cure cancer. I honestly don’t believe they can, but what they can do is help, encourage, and promote better function of the body, in this case, the prostate.

The prostate is a walnut sized gland in the male body which provides a vital part of the seminal fluid that carries sperm. This gland is located just below a man’s bladder. If the gland is enlarged it can cause problems because it presses on the urethra causing difficulties with urination and weakening the bladder.

Some symptoms of prostate problems include difficulty in urinating, frequent urination (especially at night), difficulty starting urination, a burning sensation when urinating or pain behind the scrotum. If ejaculation is painful, that might be another symptom of prostate problems, and if you have any of these symptoms, then please go and get yourself checked out. Early diagnosis of any problem has got to be better than sticking your head in the sand and ignoring it.

from Cancer Research UK

from Cancer Research UK

What does nature offer?

Eat some pumpkin seeds. They are best if you eat them plain, and have diuretic properties and plenty of zinc which helps repair and build the immune system. You could also try the pumpkin seeds as a tea. Crush a handful of fresh seeds and place in bottom of 1 pint jar, fill with boiling water and allow it to cool to room temperature before you strain it and drink that 1 pint per day. I am afraid, I have not tried this, so I do not know how it tastes!

pumpkin seeds

You are what you eat, and a good diet is very important for maintaining health. You should try and get 2 servings of fish high in Omega-3 oils like tuna, mackerel or salmon.  If you don’t like fish, then you could try more soy products. Soy contains phyto-oestrogens which are thought to help reduce testosterone production, which is believed to aggravate prostate cancer growth. And while we are on the diet, eat more tomatoes. They are PACKED with lycopene, an antioxidant which is already known to fight cancer.

There is a supplement which has been shown to work as well, or better, than prescription drugs in improving urinary flow, which is saw palmetto. It apparently works by altering hormone levels,thus reducing prostate enlargement.

In addition, drink 8 glasses of water a day, limit the intake of fatty foods and red meats, and watch your alcohol intake, especially if you like to drink beer. Apparently beer raises prolactin levels in the body and high levels of prolactin can lead to prostate enlargement.

At the risk of repeating myself, if you see ANY of the symptoms described here, please get to your doctor and get yourself checked. Early diagnosis is very, very important. If you wish to have preventative measures, then change your diet, drink a lot of water and reduce the amount of beer you drink.

If it helps your health, it has got to be worth it right?

Have you ever changed your diet to improve a health condition? Did it work for you? Let me know!