Herbs To Treat The Common Cold

| December/January 1993

Your nose drips, your chest is clog­ged, you can’t stop cough­ing, your throat is sore, your eyes are red and watery, you’re running a fever, you’re sneezing, your sinuses ache, your head hurts, you’re tired, you’re hot, you’re chilled, you’re all out of Kleenex, you’re miserable. You’ve got a cold.

Colds are a universal ailment, known around the world and throughout recorded history. Almost everyone has experienced the discomfort, inconvenience, and indignity of the common cold, a complex of symptoms that comprise the body’s response to any of a couple of hundred different viruses.

The old joke that with treatment a cold lasts seven days and, untreated, it lasts a week is substantially true. Never­theless, over the centuries countless treatments have been devised to combat its symptoms, and today, commercial cold remedies fill entire aisles of supermarkets and pharmacies. Unquestionably, these medications work —they dry up mucus, bring down fever, soothe headaches and muscular aches, and quiet coughs. With enough over-the-counter drugs in your system, you can probably pass for a human being, at least in some circles.

Or you can stay home under the blankets with the phone off the hook and hope your body will resolve this problem while you sleep for a week or two. That’ll probably work, too—but how many of us can afford it? The pharmacy beckons.

Or the herb garden. Many of the symptoms of a cold can be treated as effectively with herbs as with nonherbal nonprescription drugs. Herbal preparations can help you breathe more easily, sleep better, and feel more comfortable. You might find them gentler than their nonherbal counterparts, doing their job without interfering with the body’s own healing processes or causing disagreeable side effects.

Much has been written about herbal cold remedies, but opinions vary so widely that it’s difficult to know how to begin tackling a cold with herbs. We decided to consult some experts—not doctors and pharmacists but herbalists who are personally and professionally involved with the herbal medicine industry—and asked them, What do you do when YOU have a cold?

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