2010, Magazine: Longevity

Sniffle stoppers


It’s that time of the year when your eyes and nose run more than you do! Take up the challenge and get over the sniffles this season the natural way, with these nine little gems to get you back to feeling your healthy self again.


1. Reiki, crystals and a little bit of faith
Usui Reiki Ryoho was founded by Dr. Mikao Usui at the end of the 19th century. Initially taught as a path to spiritual enlightenment, the system spread out into the western world as a healing modality. “Reiki is a powerful system of energy work and having a treatment can help healing to occur at the physical, emotional and spiritual levels,” says Reiki Master and Crystal Healing practitioner of Healthy Choice, Markus van der Westhuizen. “Generally, any illness that occurs in the system is as a result of mental patterns that are kept, repeated and that ‘crystallise’ into physical form in the body, manifesting itself as an illness or ‘dis-ease’. Reiki will flow to the areas of the body that need attention – and help you to overcome anything – even the common cold.” He points out that Reiki combined with the healing effects of selected crystals can work wonders. Science has proven the existence of piezoelectric properties, which is the ability of stones to emit electrical information outwards, in the form of light for healing purposes. “This property, which exists in crystals, has been used by the ancients dating back almost 5,000 years ago,” he says. “Moss agate, green opal and fluorite are excellent for treating colds and flu, and can be placed anywhere on or around the body.”


2. Pins and needles do the trick
“If you can look beyond your fear of needles, acupuncture is the best method to combat your cold this season. It has been practised for about 4,000 years in China and although much of how it works is still a mystery – the proof is in the pudding!” says Dr. Jeff Lan, registered doctor of Chinese medicine and acupuncture practitioner at the International Kim Loong Wushu Centre in Cape Town. “The common cold results from a low resistance in the body and an invasion of viruses into the body. As a result, the energy flow in your body becomes blocked – and acupuncture can restore the balance and strengthen your immune system.” According to this system of Chinese Traditional Medicine, acupuncture points on the body create an ‘energetic river’, otherwise called meridians, which, when blocked or stagnant, can cause illness. Acupuncture needles are inserted into the body at key points to strengthen the flow of energy, allowing the body to heal itself. “It can also treat other viral and bacterial infections and works well with Chinese herbs,” he says. According to Dr. Debbie Smith, homoeopath and registered acupuncturist, the main acupuncture point for the immune system is behind the neck, so after exercising or if walking into the cold, protect the neck with a towel or a scarf. “Also, try avoiding eating anything cold like ice-cream or ice-water before going to bed. Keeping the body warm is the best way to avoid catching a cold,” she adds. 


3. A roll between the sheets
“If your cold symptoms are limited to the neck and above, then there is nothing wrong with engaging in some light exercise,” says Dr. Jon Patricios, Johannesburg-based sports physician and president of the South African Sports Medicine Association. “Research has shown that your levels of the anti-body, immunoglobulin IgA, a protein important for strengthening the immune system and countering viral infections, increases with moderate to light exercise, however, if you have the symptoms of fever, body and joint pains, increased heart rates, or if you coughing – you should avoid exercise completely, as this might make your condition worse.” According to Professor and sex therapist Elna McIntosh, good sexual health also increases this protein in the body. “Since you have to lower your exercise to moderate levels when you’re not well, having sex once or twice a week can help you to feel better and overcome colds and flu,” she says. “And, what better way to get some exercise into the day than through having sex!” 


4. Eat, drink and feel better
“There are definitely some foods you can eat to overcome colds and flu this winter,” says registered dietician, Lila Bruk. “Eat all the green veggies you can, because they’re rich in immune-boosting, antioxidant properties. Also, your granny was right, chicken soup has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which are important to recover from colds and flu!” Besides supplementing with vitamins and minerals, she also recommends garlic, as fresh as possible, which also helps immunity – as well as the powerful antioxidant, curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, which assists with overcoming flu symptoms. “All of the above foods can play a role in boosting your immune system and thus keep you flu- and cold-free. However, these would need to be eaten very regularly to confer any significant benefit,” she says. Bruk also adds that it is very important to not expect these foods to be a panacea for all colds and flu and if you are not feeling better after a few days you should consult your doctor. Dr. Smith, agrees. “Often overlooked is the problem of dehydration. In winter, we tend to consume less water and substitute with coffees and warm sugary beverages. All the body’s systems need water to function properly, including the immune system – and excessive sugar suppresses this.”

5. Poke your nose into the neti pot
Nasal irrigation in Eastern cultures is as routine as brushing one’s teeth and has been practiced for centuries. With its roots in Ayurveda, the technique, known as Jala Neti, which translated means ‘nasal cleansing’ uses a neti pot to flow a saline solution into one nostril, through the sinus cavities and out through the other nostril. “I strongly believe in the efficacy of sinonasal irrigations, and recommend this to all my patients,” says Dr. Chris Hofmeyr, Ear, Nose, Throat Specialist of the Milnerton Medi-Clinic. Dr. Smith concurs this. “The best way to prevent sinusitis is to make sure that the nasal passages are clear of mucous blockages and the use of neti pots or any other nasal irrigation device alleviates congestion, facial pain and pressure and reduces the need for antibiotics and nasal sprays,” she says. According to Dr. Tinus van Wyngaardt, private medical integrative practitioner from Cape Town, there are less invasive ways to clear the sinuses, such as having a warm bath or standing in a steamy shower. “Humidifiers or cool mist vaporisers also help symptoms,” he says. “Adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the bath water or humidifier can provide rapid relief for irritating symptoms.”


6. Feel-good vibrations
The ETA-scan device, launched in 2002, has its roots in the Russian space programme and is based on the scientific discoveries of Nikolas Tesla and others in the field. It is an electronic software programme that a patient would attach to their body so that a reading can be taken. The programme contains an extensive database which contains recordings of specific vibrations affecting every organ in the body – which, simply put, measure which organs are out of sync (or not vibrating at their optimum levels) – and why. “The ETA-scanner is a wonderful tool for finding out exactly where the imbalances in the body are, pinpointing them and finding ways of overcoming the problems. Colds and flu can be as a result of any number of imbalances in the body – and those are the problems I look at – the root of the issue,” says Naturopath, Anthea Grobler. “After the scan, clients are then given a ‘resonator’ treatment to balance out the vibrations in their bodies – to start the process of overcoming their illnesses.” The treatment, she says, help with detoxification and stimulates healing to take place. “You would be amazed at the number of ailments this non-invasive machine has helped to cure – the common cold and flu are no exceptions!”


7. Avoiding others like the plague!
It might sound offensive to say that you should stay away from people who are sick, because colds and flus are just so contagious – but this is good advice, according to 
Dr. van Wyngaardt. “It is not the cold weather that causes a cold, but the fact that chilly weather causes people to congregate in small, stuffy spaces, which makes transmission of the virus easier,” he says. “Fresh air is essential and keeping your immune system as strong as you can. Public gatherings, such as the 2010 Soccer World Cup, might increase the spread of the virus – so make sure you take every precaution to protect yourself.” Dr. Hofmeyr points out that direct contact with unwell people or high-risk places should be avoided. “Of course this is not always possible – and might also be considered quite anti-social behaviour, so it’s important to make sure your immune system is strong enough to begin with,” he adds. 


8. Flush out your pipes
Enemas were recorded as early as 1500BC in an Egyptian medical document; the Eber Papyrus. And, in later years, famous surgeon and brainchild of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Dr. John Harvery Kellogg argued that 90% of disease is due to improper functioning of the colon. It is no surprise then that he created All Bran Flakes to encourage healthy colon functioning. “Enemas help remove excess acid from the body and toxic waste, which builds up in the cells and weakens the immune system,” says colon hydro-therapist from Somerset West, Nicola Day. “It’s always a good idea to have a colonic irrigation, unless you have bleeding haemorrhoids, ulcers or cancerous tumours. Cleansing out the system will not only provide relief from colds and flu, but will also leave you feeling lighter and more alert and have more lust for life.” A colonic, she adds, will also confirm if you have parasites and candida, which usually comes as a shock to most people – but at least it can be treated afterwards. Dr. van Wyngaardt adds that it’s important to take a good pre- and pro-biotic once you’ve had a colonic irrigation, to replenish the good bacteria for a healthier immune system. 

9. Floating the flu away
When you’re sick, the last thing you’d think of doing is lying in a tank, soaking in Epsom salts. However, according to Cape Town Medispa Director, Ian Macfarlane, this is exactly what you should consider trying out. “Flotation therapy, known as Restricted Environment Stimulation Technique (REST), might at first accelerate all the symptoms of colds and flu, and may make you feel worse before you feel better – but this is a good sign of an accelerated detox, cleansing and a restoring of homeostasis, indicating a healing from your illness,” he says. “It is an extremely simple form of hydro-therapy, but profound in its simplicity. It relaxes all the muscles, balances the hemispheres and layers of the brain, and assists one to enter into a deep meditative state, where healing naturally occurs.” The function of the Epsom salts in the water reduces or eliminates acute pain, which can be permanent after one session. Other benefits include; lessening of oedema, an increased range of movement in skeletal joints, lower perceived levels of stress, reduced feelings of fatigue and insomnia, a lower blood pressure, assistance in weight control and restoring energy levels. “To lie on your back and float in an isolation tank filled with Epsom salt water, induces deep and pleasurable relaxation, producing a flood of endorphins and other beneficial chemicals to your body, while boosting the autonomic immune system –  essential for overcoming colds and flu, through balancing body, mind and soul.”



Old Wives vs The Experts
Weird and wonderful old wives tales for overcoming the sniffles…What the experts say:




Warm your feet in hot water, then soak a thin pair of socks in cold water, wring them out and put them on. Over that, put on a pair of thick, dry socks and then go to bed, allowing the socks to do their trick overnight.

  • Dr. van Wyngaardt: Rather than destroying a perfectly good pair of socks and most likely, your bed too – take a warm steamy bath or shower that will moisturise your upper airways and relax you!

  • Dr. Smith: There is no logical reason for this to be effective, but the world often defies logic!


Apply a poultice to the chest made of fried onions and garlic to ease inflammation and loosen and break up hardened mucous. 

  • Dr. Hofmeyr: I do not feel that a poultice is medically beneficial, but would not discourage its use as the placebo effect cannot be underestimated!

  • Dr. Smith: A poultice is a good idea for immediate effect but using this with a homoeopathic cough mixture to break up the mucous will ease the effects of the mucous as well.

  • Dr. van Wyngaardt: Although this will not cause you any physical harm, it may destroy your social life! This might be beneficial, but you can get much better results from ingesting a small portion of raw onion and garlic – this will help fight the virus, relieve symptoms and boost your immune system. Take as much of the raw onion as you can tolerate with the onset of the cold and add some garlic – this combination works very well.


Drink some delicious, healing lizard soup. 

  • Dr. Lan: All medicine started in a backyard once upon a time and sometimes we must take our minds out of the backyard and move on to see the new view. Chinese medicines have many superstition-based remedies, which are no longer used as much in modern society. Ancient medicines have evolved. Back in the old days, many remedies would be used to fix ailments, but today we have a more sophisticated approach to old remedies; scientific proof! 

  • Dietician Lila Bruk: Lizard soup is claimed to help boost the immune system, as well as help to decrease stress, however there doesn’t appear to be any scientific evidence to back these claims.


Eat Vicks Vapour Rub – it goes straight to the problem.  

  • Dietician, Lila Bruk: Although a lot of people do swear by eating Vicks, there is no evidence to show that it confers any additional benefit than using it in the traditional way. In addition, the label does specify that it should not be eaten and therefore could be detrimental to one’s health to eat!

  • Dr. van Wyngaardt: Vicks Vapour Rub should never be ingested, especially by children. You could get better results with fewer side effects by just inhaling it.  There are some cold remedies commercially available with the same active ingredients that you can ingest.

Drink a hot toddy, made from hot water or tea, lemon, sugar or honey, and rum, brandy or whiskey. 

  • Dietician, Lila Bruk: Alcohol is a diuretic and therefore will cause dehydration, which can in fact make a cold last longer! Ginger has expectorant and decongestant properties and therefore helps to break down mucous and treat sinusitis and bronchitis. Ginger is also excellent for managing nausea and other stomach upsets. Honey has an anti-inflammatory effect and is soothing for coughs and sore throats. Therefore, if one wishes to add ginger and honey to a hot toddy, it would be more advisable to have the ginger and honey in hot water and omit the alcohol!


Author: Charlene Yared-West. Published in Longevity Magazine, June 2010, p30. 

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