This past winter has been an especially bad season for respiratory viruses, and a lot of people have had trouble getting rid of colds.
You can try to hasten the end of a cold with the measures below, all of which are aimed at helping your immune system fight off the bug that is causing the symptoms:
- Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous): This is one of my favorite immune-boosting tonics. It is the root of a plant in the pea family long used in China to prevent illness and strengthen sick people. You can get slices of dried astragalus root at Chinese groceries and some health-food stores. Simmer the slices in tea or soups (they'll add a pleasant sweet taste). Or buy extracts of astragalus in liquid, capsule or tablet form. Follow the dosing directions on the package. This herb is nontoxic and can be used long-term to increase resistance.
- Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata): This is a much less well-known herb that is available in tablet form under the brand name Kan Jang, and looks promising as an effective cold remedy and immune booster. Take two tablets three times a day.
- Get adequate rest: Make sure you get at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night, depending on the amount your body requires. If you're not sleeping well, your immune system produces fewer of the natural-killer cells needed to destroy cells that are infected with the cold virus.
- Eat well: Make sure you're getting foods that give you plenty of immune-boosting antioxidant vitamins and minerals - fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. And don't forget that garlic, onions, and ginger are especially good. Try ginger root tea to bust a lingering cold.
- Take immune-boosting mushrooms to enhance your resistance: I recommend to easy-to-take mushroom product, Stamets 7 Mushroom Blend from Fungi Perfecti (www.fungi.com), a liquid extract of seven different species. Take the amounts suggested on the product label.
Andrew Weil, M.D.