In order to help reduce the severity of the common cold, the best foods to eat are ones that are packed with beta-carotene, vitamin C, and zinc. They not only boost the body’s natural immunity, but also help with cold symptoms like runny nose, fatigue, and chills. Best of all, because Chinese medicine is first and foremost preventative in nature, these nutrients can also help you from catching cold in the first place.
Foods such as horseradish, garlic, and chili pepper help move and eliminate mucus, thereby alleviating congestion. Capsaicin, for example, is a substance in chili peppers that acts as a mucus-mover. Allyl isothiocyanate, a compound in horseradish, also helps to thin mucus.
Naturally occurring chemicals (allin, allicin, and ajoene) in garlic regulate mucus flow and may be helpful in reducing congestion caused by the common cold.
Vitamin C is a superb immunity booster. If taken at the first signs of a cold, it may keep the cold from fully developing and may produce a faster recovery. However, taking vitamin C does not prevent colds. The leading food sources of vitamin C include red cabbage strawberries, potatoes (especially sweet potatoes), tangerines, red bell peppers, oranges, and kiwis.
When taken immediately at the first signs of catching a cold, zinc may weaken the cold virus, minimizing the duration and severity of a cold. Zinc is believed to promote a strong immune system by processing the essential fatty acids that encourage healing. Zinc lozenges are helpful for this purpose. The leading food sources of zinc include barley, chicken, lamb, wheat, turkey, oysters, crab, and beef.
In addition to dietary therapy, herbal remedies can also help augment the body’s immune function as well as eliminate symptoms associated with the common cold.
Finally, acupuncture itself can be used preventatively to boost immunity and ward off the common cold. Just one treatment per month during the cold and flu season can be very effective in avoiding the onset of symptoms.
Michael A. Sassack is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist serving the northwest suburbs of Chicago.