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 Naturopathic Medicine: Will We Ever Find A Cure For The Common Cold? 
From Labor Day weekend to the first signs of spring, Americans are inundated with advertising reminding us that the cold and flu season has arrived. Invariably the advertisements are coupled with warnings that this season's influenza will be more severe than last years and flu shots and non-prescription drugs are indicated.

Not surprisingly, a considerable number of Americans experience the sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, sore throats, cough, fatigue and fever which we have come to associate with a cold or flu. Additional symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea may accompany the illness depending upon its severity and the persons susceptibility to the disease.

Over-the-counter cold and flu medicine sales top several million dollars a year. With increasing competition, this past season saw the addition of several "newer", "faster acting" "extra strength" medicines to the already saturated cold and flu medicine market. According to consumer advocates, these cold and flu medicines are simply new twists on old formulas which carry slick packaging and advertising campaigns.

Holistic health care physicians are nearly unanimous in their belief that over-the-counter medications which act to suppress symptoms actually worsen and prolong the condition. Ultimately this results in far more serious conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia, low immune function and chronic fatigue.

Toxemia: The Real Culprit
In order to understand how this occurs, one must first understand what a cold or influenza is. Despite what advertisers claim, colds and flu's are not caused by viruses or bacteria. Rather, these are opportunistic infections which are allowed to arise or take hold in a sick or toxic internal environment. The symptoms experienced by the person are really attempts by the body to eliminate the sick or toxic internal environment rather than a reaction to the external environment. This is the reason that during the "cold and flu season" some people are affected and others are not, even though constantly exposed to the same environment of microbes.

Sickness or toxicity of the internal environment is most often caused by excesses of tobacco smoke, heavy metal exposure, food additives, stale air from poorly circulated air flow and chronic constipation. Diets which are high in fats (greater than 25 grams/day), refined carbohydrates (white sugar, flour etc.), caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks), excess dairy, high amounts of salt and alcohol also contribute. Add to these stress due to lack of sleep, over work, radical changes in environmental temperatures and lifestyle habits, and you have an individual who is ripe for opportunistic infection due to a sick or toxic internal environment. As each person is unique, one or several of these factors may contribute more than others.

As the body attempts to rid itself of the toxicity, it depends on the organs of elimination to do so. These consist of the liver, lungs, kidneys, skin, mucus membranes, and the immune system. Increased activity of the mucus membranes of the sinuses, nose, throat, eyes and ears, result in secretion of a sticky, thin to thick, gelatinous mucus which acts to eliminate excess toxins while removing microorganisms such as viruses and bacteria. The affected person experiences this as a runny nose, watery eyes, sore throat from sinus drainage and inflammation, sneezing, and plugged ears. Elimination through the digestive tract results in diarrhea and vomiting. Nausea, often a part of influenza symptoms, results from the inability to digest food and is the body's way of letting you know not to eat. This way, energy is diverted to removing toxins and fighting the infection rather than digesting food. Fever, which often accompanies colds or flu's, acts to burn off toxic materials while increasing the white blood cell and immune system activity.

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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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