Irritated with the cold & cough that doesn’t seem to go away? They are the body’s way of toxin elimination to get back to balance. Read on to know more on why we get colds and coughs and the natural ways to handle them.
What is cold/cough?
The cold is probably the greatest medical mystery of all time for which there is no ‘cure’. During a cold or cough, there is a discharge of mucus from the outlets of the mouth, nose and in many cases the eyes and ears too accompanied by chills, aches and pains.
To understand why the body initiates these discomforting actions, we need to understand what the role of mucus is. The mucous membranes in the body produce more than a litre of mucus every day. This clear, slimy liquid lines the tissues of the stomach, lungs, eyes, nose etc for lubrication, to trap pollutants and provide a protective cover.
Wrong living practices like the wrong foods, smoking, eating without true hunger or in the wrong state of mind, lack of rest, sunlight and exercise, pollution etc build up toxins in the body.
The toxins irritate the tissues in the body and they become inflamed. Normally the body uses the kidneys, lungs and skin to throw out the toxins. When the toxic load within the body is too high, additionally, the body opens up the mucous membranes to drain out the toxins via the mucous. This is what we perceive as phlegm (which is actually mucus mixed with white blood cells, and any remnants of tissue destruction and other toxins) which makes its way out through discharge from the nose, eyes, ears. This is the beginning of the cold.
Common cough is a natural mechanism to throw out dust, germs & any other irritants from the respiratory system. It is also the body’ way of throwing out phlegm from the respiratory passage so that breathing is not obstructed. The forceful contractions of the walls of the chest and of the diaphragm create a vacuum-suction to eject toxins and accumulated phlegm out from the respiratory passage.
Hence both cold and cough are life-saving mechanisms which the body adapts to reduce the toxin burden on the body. When we look at how disease develops through the lens of nature cure, these are acute stages of disease. It is critical to handle these conditions in a proper manner so that toxins do not accumulate and create chronic conditions.
Handle cold & cough naturally
As we learnt, cold and cough is an action initiated by the body in its attempt to throw out toxins and get back to balance. Hence they are curative or remedial processes and not caused by germs. It is best not to interfere with them in any way.
Normally, when you experience cold and cough, there is tastelessness on the tongue, congestion in the chest, sore throat, tiredness etc. These are indications from the body that it does not want any food and just needs rest.
Physical rest – Get into bed, keep warm and sleep if sleepy
Mental rest – Switch off from gadgets, avoid arguments and worry and heavy mental work
Physiological rest – Give rest to digestive organs by only having light food as per the needs of hunger. The order of preference of foods would be water, diluted fruit juice, coconut water, juicy fruits, pulpy fruits and steamed vegetables. Avoid all forms of animal products, tea, coffee, processed foods, grains, nuts and seeds and other cooked foods till natural hunger returns
Normally the discomforts associated with cold and cough do not last for more than a week if following the guidelines. Any excessive discomforts can be managed by sipping warm water, taking steam inhalation, gargling etc as necessary.
Once the symptoms have passed and hunger returns, mildly spiced cooked foods can be restarted.
Handling cough in children
Parents need to exercise patience and keep a positive frame of mind when handling children with colds and cough as they may be cranky and tired:
Explain to the child in simple terms or through stories on what their body is trying to do.
Help the child to take rest and sleep when they want to. Encourage them to sleep as much as they like.
Gently massage the chest with warm virgin coconut oil or mustard oil to relieve congestion.
Help your child do steaming to decongest the respiratory passage. For very young children, keep the baby on your lap and allow the steam to reach the nose. You can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the water.
Encourage them to have a few sips of lukewarm water when the throat feels dry. They can slowly chew on soaked raisins to ease the throat irritation.
Avoid cooked foods and give them coconut water or their favourite fruit juice in limited quantity – freshly extracted, no packaged juices.
As they get better, take them out to nearby parks to get some fresh air.
Soon, they will be back to their old, cheerful selves. Use this opportunity to emphasize the body’ self-healing mechanism. This is a great learning opportunity for them to learn about the body’s natural healing ability!
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