Colds and Cold Colds
an article by Susun S. Weed
is coming. So are colds and the flu. Here are some
tips for preventing these viral illnesses. And for
getting well fast if you do get sick.
Preventing colds and the flu can be summed up in
three words: Wash your hands. The viruses that cause
colds and the flu most readily enter our bodies
by means of our hands. Wash your hands after shopping.
Remind your children to wash their hands as soon
as they come home from school. A little "hysterical
hygiene" goes a long way to keeping colds at
Of course, there are herbs that can be used to help
thwart colds and the flu. Yarrow is a clear favorite,
especially as a tincture. Teachers, moms, and wise
children find a dose of 5-25 drops of yarrow tincture
in the morning in some liquid reduces the likelihood
of getting sick by more than half.
Astragalus is gaining fame for its ability to support
strong immune system functioning. I throw a few
tongue-depressor-like pieces in my soups, where
they infuse their goodness without imparting much
flavor. Powdered astragalus can be added to almost
anything, from oatmeal to pancakes, soups to gravies.
And there is always the tincture, which works well
in doses of 1-3 dropperfuls a day. (If at all possible,
use domestic astragalus, rather than that from China.)
Eleuthero, which used to be called Siberian ginseng,
is another immune system nourisher, used in the
same ways as astragalus: cooked into food or taken
as a tincture.
And don't forget honey. A spoonful at the first
sign of a sore throat or runny nose can kill the
bacteria responsible and help you get better fast. (Note: Do not give honey to babies under 12 months
And if you do get sick, here's my favorite way to
get well fast.
Treat a cold cold with heat.
Treat a hot cold with cold.
This may sound too easy, but it is actually one
of the most effective ways I know of to minimize
the severity and duration of a cold (or the flu).
I first learned about cold colds and hot colds when
I was studying Five Element Theory with a sweetheart
who was attending acupuncture school.
It is important to remember that "cold"
and "hot" don't refer to temperature;
they refer to what we might call metabolism. Thus,
the person with a cold cold could very well have
a raging fever and the person with a hot cold may
have no fever at all. Similarly, hot foods and herbs
are not necessarily cooked, and cold foods and herbs
need not be refrigerated.
So how can we tell the difference between a cold
cold and a hot cold? And what are cold herbs and
hot herbs, cold foods and hot foods?
The person with a cold cold (or a cold flu) is pale.
Their bodily fluids are copious and without color:
The nose runs with clear or white mucus; the bowels
are loose and the feces are light in color; urination
is profuse and colorless. The tongue may be coated
with a white moss. If there is fever, it is accompanied
by chills. The person with a cold cold seeks heat
and hot foods.
The person with a hot cold (or a hot flu) is ruddy;
the face, or at least the cheeks, are very red.
The eyes may feel dry and irritated. Their bodily
fluids are scant and dark: nasal mucus is dry, yellowish,
or "stopped up;" the bowels slow and feces
are hard; urination is infrequent and highly colored.
The tongue may be red or coated with a yellow moss.
If there is a fever, it is "raging." The
person with a hot cold seeks coolness and has little
When you have a cold cold, indulge your desire for
heating foods and herbs: Drink lots of hot spicy
herbal teas with honey*, such as ginger tea, cinnamon
tea, or any of the spicy "Yogi Tea" type
blends. Nourish yourself with chicken soup, beef
broth, miso soup. Enjoy baked winter squash, baked
potatoes, baked yams, baked garlic. Eat lots of
olive oil, ghee, butter, olives, and avocados. Eat
beans and eat the warming grains: kasha, rye, oats.
Stay warm; take a hot bath or a hot shower and wrap
up snugly before going to sleep.
When you have a hot cold, indulge your desire for
frozen fruit smoothies. Drink lemon and honey* water,
iced nettle infusion, hibiscus and mint teas. Nourish
yourself with seaweed salads, cucumber sandwiches,
and fresh tomatoes with basil. Enjoy berries and
melons, green salads, and roasted fowl. Eat the
cooling grains: corn, millet, spelt. Eat a little
something even if your appetite is small. Stay cool;
take off your shoes and socks and put your bare
feet on the ground. But keep covers handy when you
go to sleep.
You see, cold colds turn into hot colds and vice
versa. They don't stay the same the whole time you
are sick. So be prepared to pull the covers up to
your chattering teeth and flowing nose even if you
went to bed stuffed up and sweltering. Or to throw
off the pile of covers you clutched hours earlier.
The real beauty of this idea of hot colds and cold
colds is the premise that everything, even a cold,
will change and so the cure comes not from knowing
the right answer, but in following the flow of the
sickness and offering appropriate treatments. I
imagine a balance scale, swinging back and forth
between hot and cold, with me gently damping the
swings, making each one a little less severe, until
single-pointed stillness - health - is regained.
Whether dealing with a hot cold or a cold cold,
you can eat as much of the neutral nourishing foods
- rice, wheat, fish, honey*,
and yogurt - as you wish. But, beware of taking
vitamin C while harboring a cold or the flu; it
is extremely cooling.
I hope these tips for preventing and dealing with
colds and the flu help you, and those you love,
stay in glowing good health all winter long.
(*Note: Do not give
honey to babies under 12 months old.)
Disclaimer: This content is not intended
to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions
made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose,
treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or
symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided
by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare
practitioner with a specific formula for you. All
material on this website/email is provided for general
information purposes only and should not be considered
medical advice or consultation. Contact a reputable
healthcare practitioner if you are in need of medical
care. Exercise self-empowerment by seeking a second
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Susun Weed at: www.susunweed.com and www.ashtreepublishing.com
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and involved, Susun Weed has garnered an international
reputation for her groundbreaking lectures, teachings,
and writings on health and nutrition. She challenges
conventional medical approaches with humor, insight,
and her vast encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine.
Unabashedly pro-woman, her animated and enthusiastic
lectures are engaging and often profoundly provocative.
Susun is one
of America's best-known authorities on herbal medicine
and natural approaches to women's health. Her four
best-selling books are recommended by expert herbalists
and well-known physicians and are used and cherished
by millions of women around the world. Learn more
article is © copyright Susun
S. Weed 2004 - Republished here with kind permission.