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 Naturopathic Medicine: Will We Ever Find A Cure For The Common Cold? 

Over-the-Counter Medicines, What Kind of Benefit?
Over the counter cold and influenza medicines act in opposition to the body's elimination response. This results in a lessening of some symptoms but acts to prolong the elimination response. A "normal course" of a cold or flu in which there is no over-the-counter medication taken, is anywhere from 2 to 7 days depending upon the age and vitality of the person. (Persons with preexistent illness and the elderly generally take longer to recover.) On the average, persons who consume over-the-counter medications suffer with the illness upwards of 10 to 14 days or, in some cases, longer.

The prolonged exposure to microorganisms, resulting from the decreased ability of the body to detoxify itself, increases the chances of infection. This further adds to the persons discomfort and is termed an opportunistic infection. The person experiences a worsening of symptoms due to infection by microorganisms. This is due to their destructive and toxic effects on the tissues of the nose, throat, sinuses, ears, gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.

Certainly during different times of the year there are greater numbers of viral and bacterial infections seen by physicians. This is due in part to the cyclical nature of certain viral strains and their increased presence during the different seasons such as the fall and winter. As more and more persons become the victims of opportunistic infections, these microorganisms proliferate and spread at a greater rate, thus exposing larger numbers of people. If the internal environment is sick or toxic then the virus or bacteria is able to take hold and proliferate, thus perpetuating the cycle.

Complications from incomplete treatment range from mild to severe, as the body, unable to fight off the disease, stands defenseless against opportunistic infection. Bronchitis, an inflammation of the upper respiratory tract, commonly is seen following an incompletely treated cold or flu. The illness has "taken hold" and has now gone deeper into the body. It has become a much more difficult condition to treat as any physician will tell you and sufferers who must deal with its lingering effects will attest. The lungs may become the next stopping place and the resulting pneumonia is a still more serious condition. This is especially true with the very young and the elderly, adding to the mortality rates seen with severe influenza epidemics.

Chronic fatigue often follows a bout or series of colds or flu's. It is as if the body has become so weakened in attempting to eliminate the sickness and the effects of the over-the-counter medications, that it is unable to return to previous levels of health and vitality.

It is felt by many physicians that repeated use of medications which act counter to the natural healing mechanisms of the body results in a loss of memory or ability to respond to the disease process, thus weakening the persons vitality. It is further felt that continued suppression of the healing mechanism will ultimately result in a rise in chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and auto immune diseases, a trend that has continued to rise over the past 60 years.

Prevention and Early Intervention: The Best Medicine
It is inevitable that at some time in a persons life they will be affected by a cold or influenza. This is because no matter how hard we try it is almost impossible to control the many factors which contribute to a sick or toxic internal environment. Therefore it is important to begin preventive measures at the start of the cold and influenza season rather than wait for things to get out of hand.

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 About The Author
Thomas A. Kruzel N.D. is a Naturopathic Physician in private practice in Portland, Oregon with an emphasis on family practice, geriatric medicine and diseases of the urogenital tract. He is an Associate Professor of......more
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