My aunt is 93 years old. We are blessed to still have her in our lives.
A few years ago we almost lost her.
She had a cold. At her age, this, in and of itself, can be risky. But my aunt is a very strong woman. She survived not only the cold, but also a life-threatening reaction to a popular over-the-counter cold medication.
Many people take these widely advertised products at the first sign of a sniffle. According to an article that ran in USA Today, about 70 percent of Americans use cold and flu preparations, in an effort to relieve their misery.
These products typically contain acetaminophen. Many people think this popular pain reliever is safe, so they may take a little extra. Unfortunately, this drug has a narrow margin for error.
Too much acetaminophen can lead to liver failure. The outcome is often fatal. In the United States, acetaminophen is the leading cause of sudden liver failure. Reactions to this OTC drug account for about 78,414 emergency room visits a year, according to a 2011 study that ran in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
This problem is so well known that all ER’s are now equipped with an acetaminophen antidote. This is a naturally occurring substance called n-acetyl cysteine. It helps the body make another compound that helps with liver detoxification.
Alternative Cold Remedies
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Whether or not OTC cold medications even make you feel better is a matter of debate. However, if you’re suffering from a viral infection, these pharmaceuticals won’t do anything to alter its course. In fact, some holistic health care experts believe they can even lengthen the duration of an illness, partly because they don’t allow for a slight fever, which makes it more difficult for the virus to survive.
When my children were little, and they had the flu, I worked closely with our pediatrician. (If you’re reading this, I always encourage checking with your own healthcare provider.) But I also had a homeopath who insisted, “fever is your friend.” She told me not to give my children OTC cold formulas. Instead, we used natural remedies to help them recover.
She also opened my eyes to the fact that the body has an amazing ability to bounce back from illness, if we just give it the right support. Watching how well my children responded to these time-tested natural remedies is one of the reasons I won’t take a pharmaceutical drug, unless it was going to be life saving.
There are a number of safer ways to treat common cold symptoms, including homeopathy, essential oils and various herbal remedies. You can also buy herbal tea for sore throats to have on hand when the next cold hits.
Tea That Helps Sore Throat
Traditional Medicinals Organic Throat Coat is made with a blend of organic herbs, which have been used for centuries to treat sore throats. These include licorice root, slippery elm bark (a natural pain reliever), marshmallow root, wild cherry bark, bitter fennel fruit, Saigon cinnamon bark (a germ fighter) and organic sweet orange peel.
One of the ingredients in this herbal tea, wild cherry bark, is often recommended for colds and is also sold as a syrup. It’s a natural cough remedy once used by Native Americans to treat upper respiratory infections.
Throat coat also contains sweet orange peel, another herbal remedy often taken to boost the immune system when fighting an illness, as it’s rich in natural whole Vitamin C.
This tea is sold by Vitacost, a large discount online health food store. This is where I buy a lot of my healthy food items and herbal supplements. Vitacost continually offers generous coupon codes, where you can save even more off of its already low prices.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. People with health concerns should discuss them with a doctor. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use herbal remedies, unless under the direction of a health care professional.
I’m not a healthcare professional, so all of the above statements are my personal opinion, and are not intended as medical advice.
For Additional Reading
Essential Oils for Children’s Colds