Men on the Moon
But no Cure for the Common Cold

The common cold, also known as a viral upper respiratory tract infection, is an illness that can be caused by a number of different types of viruses.

The body never builds up resistance to this frequent and recurring illness because of the great number of viruses and newly developing viruses that can be responsible.

Between one and three days after a virus enters the body, symptoms can start developing and last from a few days to more than a week, such as:

  • Running nose
  • Congestion
  • sneezing
  • Weakened senses of taste and smell
  • Scratchy throat
  • Cough
  • Fever and extreme exhaustion are more usual in Influenza


The common cold virus is spread from one person to another in aerosol form generated by coughing or sneezing and from contact of an infected person either directly or from contaminated surfaces.

For example, a person infected blows or touches his or her nose and then touches someone else or some object which becomes infected with the virus and passed along. Going out into the cold weather has no effect on the spread of the illness.

What can you do to prevent illness?

  • Avoid close contact with people who are infected, especially during the first few days when they are most likely to spread the infection.
  • Wash your hands after touching an infected person or an object they have touched and after blowing your own nose. Wash hands vigorously for at least 15 seconds with soap then rinse.
  • If your child is ill, wash and disinfect his or her toys after play.
  • Keep your fingers away from your nose and eyes to avoid infecting yourself with viruses you may have picked up.
  • Put a second hand towel in the bathroom for healthy people to use.
  • Keep an eye on the humidity of your environment so that your sinuses do not dry out.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, then throw the tissue away and wash your hands.
  • Stay away from people who are most vulnerable, including anyone who has asthma or another chronic lung disease.


Symptom relief

Traditional Medicine:Antibiotics play no role in treating the common cold, but there are some over-the-counter medications which can provide temporary relief of symptoms and should be used as soon as you feel the onset of the illness.

  • Acetaminophen is less likely to upset your stomach than other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Ibuprofen can be used to relieve aches and pains.
  • Decongestants and antihistamines or a combination of both can treat congestion, cough, and nasal discharge.

Remember: follow dosage instructions on all product labels and know what medication you are taking. Many combination products - both prescription and over-the-counter contain acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin.

Native wisdom - Grandma's chicken soup:Aside from whatever medicinal value they have, the virtue of these remedies is that they generally taste good and provide some pleasure and comfort during an otherwise unpleasant recovery process.

  • How can you not go for a hot bowl of chicken soup
  • Squeeze the juice from a fresh lemon into a cup of boiled water, add honey to taste and sip while warm.
  • Squeeze the juice from a fresh orange into a cup of boiled water, add 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/2 teaspoon honey for taste, and sip while warm.
  • Add of few tablespoons of brandy, rum or whiskey to the above concoctions for help in getting much needed sleep.
  • Drink three cups of cayenne tea daily.
  • Three drops of eucalyptus essential oil in a vaporizer is good to relieve upper respiratory ailments.
  • For congestion relief make a tea of fresh parsley, steep the parsley in hot water for a few minutes then sip the tea.
  • For breathing problems eat something spicy such as a chili pepper, whole garlic, or gargle with Tabasco sauce in a cup of water.


Natural science:These are herbal and homeopathic remedies that have been used for the common cold by many cultures (including our own) for thousands of years.

  • Echinacea: a native American plant that is the best known and researched herb for stimulating the immune system. Taken at the first sign of symptoms, Echinacea can reduce the common colds intensity and duration, often preventing it from becoming a full-fledged infection.
  • Goldenseal: a small plant of North America's damp forest, it has been used traditionally by the Cherokee Indians for the treatment of wounds and ulcers. Goldenseal works wonders in combination with Echinacea, particularly at the onset of symptoms, especially coughs and sore throats.
  • Zinc: some believe that it may help shorten the duration of the common cold to an average of 4 days versus an average of 7 days in non-zinc takers. While loading up on the mineral for a week may help fight a cold, too much zinc taken over long periods, can reduce the amount of cooper in your body ultimately weakening your immune system and lowering your HDL (good cholesterol).
  • Red Clover: is native of Europe, Asia, and Africa. It acts as potent antioxidants and promotes the activity of antioxidant enzymes strengthening the immune system and reducing the duration of some symptoms.
  • Vitamin C: taking about 1000-2000mg a day when you feel you are at risk may reduce the symptoms associated with colds. Drinking fruit juice is not a good way to take in vitamin C because the sugar content of the juice more than cancels the benefit of what little vitamin C is left in there.
  • Sugar: The single most overlooked issue in prevention is sugar consumption. If you consume 100 grams of sugar it reduces the function of an important part of your immune system by as much as 50% for up to 6 hours. Since most people pile away much more than that in an average day it's no surprise that so many are running around with their immune systems as half-strength.
  • Liquid: adequate liquid intake is recommended. Eight glasses of water and/or juice per day is recommended to help keep the lining of the nose and throat from drying out.
  • Caffeine: avoid coffee, tea or cola drinks that contain caffeine as well as drinks which contain alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol lead to dehydration, the opposite of what you want.

The major home impact that we can have on the common cold is hand washing. Hand washing has clearly been shown to prevent the spread of infection.

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