When a Cold’s Not Just a Cold

When a Cold’s Not Just a Cold

Lower Respiratory, Bronchial, wet coughs, lots of phlegm

Licorice, Thyme, Mullein, Fennel, White Horehound

Upper Respiratory, sinusitis, watery eyes, runny nose

Eyebright, Golden Rod, Elder Flower, Golden Seal

Asthma, spasmodic cough like in Whooping Cough

Adhatoda, Ginkgo, Grindelia, Fennel

First Sign of a Cold or Flu


My Favourite for Prevention of Winter Infections


My Favourite Herb for Children


How To Take Herbs

The easiest way to take these herbs is in an individualised herbal formula made up for you in the clinic. Herbs are chosen according to your symptoms and you can rest assured they are best quality, medicinal herbal medicines. In this form, the effective dose is only small, usually 5mL and more of the active constituents are bioavailable so you get the best bang for your buck. Of course, you can also make the dried herbs into teas and most of them are available these days in tablets or capsules. Be sure to check the equivalent therapeutic dose for each.

Got a Cold? You Know WHAT to Take but do you know HOW?


Who hasn’t made up a soothing cup of tea with honey and lemon for a sore throat? Honey is a pure whole food containing lots of vitamins and antioxidants and the benefits are amplified if it’s Manuka honey which has antibacterial and antifungal properties as well. But you won’t get the best out of your honey if it’s overheated which runs the risk of destroying its medicinal benefits. This is also the reason why raw organic honey is best, as honey is heated during the refining process. You can work around this issue by adding the honey once the tea has cooled to at least 40 degrees Celsius.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C’s role in the prevention and treatment of the common cold has been argued over ever since Linus Pauling1 first popularized the idea over 40 years ago. Current research lends weight to the idea that taking vitamin C at the onset of a cold will shorten its duration but is not useful as a means to prevent colds in otherwise healthy persons. So dig in at the first sign of a sniffle and don’t be stingy with the quantity is probably the best advice. For this purpose, I would recommend getting vitamin C as a powder – ascorbic acid is the most easily absorbed but getting a mixture of ascorbic acid with ascorbates will cause less stomach irritation. You can take up to 6g a day without worrying about overdosing but break it up into divided doses, say 1g six times a day and ease off if it causes stomach irritation and/or diarrhea.

Herbal Medicine

Herbs are a fantastic resource when it comes to alleviating cold symptoms and supporting our own immune systems. I’ve seen the power of properly prescribed herbal medicines with my clients countless times and experienced it myself so I can’t recommend them highly enough. They work. And they work by improving the efficiency of our natural response to illness rather than by suppressing symptoms so we end up not only recovering from the acute illness but with a strengthened immune system because of it. Win/win!

Ideally, consult with a herbalist and get some advice about the right mix of herbs for your particular situation – they can make up a special mix for you and they will also advise on the dosing. But failing that, my advice would be to not be afraid to dose acutely for an acute condition. By this I mean, once you feel the onset of cold symptoms, start taking herbal medicines every 2 hours. For a chronic condition, a herbal formula may be prescribed at 5mL three times a day but that same formula (if the herbs are appropriate) may be recommended every 2 hours for the first day of a cold, then 6 times a day until the symptoms subside. Some herbs that may be prescribed include Andrographis, Echinacea, Eyebright, Elder, Yarrow and Pelargonium.

Getting a Cold Means it’s Time to Rest

I know this seems basic and we all know it, but I think the reminder is often necessary. Take the time to rest and let your body recover fully. Having a cold is a time to stop, rest, drink lots of water and herbal teas and enjoy wholesome soups. By doing this, in conjunction with getting the most from your natural remedies, you’ll be up and back into the swing of life in no time.

Acute case consultations are available at Vital Child so the next time you feel a cold coming on, try a herbal mix made up for your specific symptoms and see if you feel the difference.

[1] 1970, Pauling, L. Vitamin C and the Common Cold



Adrenal Fatigue. A Modern Epidemic?

Is Adrenal Fatigue Real?

First, let me clarify that ‘adrenal fatigue’ is a term in common usage relating to these symptoms however, the more medically correct term would likely be ‘HPA axis dysfunction’ and there are good biochemical reasons for this. As the purpose of this blog is to offer some general treatment options rather than delve into the science, I’m sticking with adrenal fatigue. I’m sure you can appreciate why.

Our adrenal glands play a crucial role in the ‘fight or flight’ stress response. We generally know when we’re burning the candle at both ends and often we instinctively compensate during a stressful time by letting go of less urgent responsibilities in order to cope but it also takes a lot of metabolic energy to recover. When we don’t allow ourselves the time and space and nutrition to recover fully, we leave ourselves at risk of adrenal fatigue.

Recovering from requires a nurturing approach. It’s a time to heed the warning that for every ‘push’ there requires a ‘pull’, a time to nurture and rebuild our reserves so we are ready for the next challenge. I was relieved to hear that Sonya had already pulled back on her training regime, taking care to listen to her body’s cues about the level of exercise most suited to her at this time. I highly recommend restorative yoga for its re-balancing abilities and for lowering cortisol especially for those of us ‘heady’ people who are good at adding to our stress levels with our busy, driven minds.

Help For Adrenal Fatigue Recovery

  • Supportive nutrients for the adrenals include Vitamin C, Magnesium, B Vitamins and Zinc. Seek advice about the optimum forms and dose of these nutrients for you.
  • Unrefined sea salt or Himalayan pink rock salt is a good source of trace minerals in natural levels that nourish the adrenals (1 tsp per day is all that’s needed).
  • Don’t forget to drink enough water – the general rule is 33ml per kg of body weight per day.
  • Be careful not to be too restrictive with carbs at this time. Our bodies need ready energy so ensure a minimum of 50-75g CHO per day (1 cup of mashed sweet potato = 50g). Root vegetables in general have grounding properties so add them in where possible.
  • Herbs such as Siberian and American Ginseng, Withania, Licorice, Rhodiola and Rehmannia are great adrenal supportive herbs.
  • Get outside – walk, swim, sit in nature. As well as soothing a frazzled mind and body, the extra vitamin D will help.

On a final note, it’s hard to fully resolve adrenal fatigue issues without addressing other health issues such as inflammation, thyroid health, blood sugar regulation and gut health. If you’d like to look more deeply at this issue for yourself, book a naturopathic consult to ensure the support to get and stay on the road to recovery.


All Blocked Up?

What Causes a Cold?

Over 200 different viruses cause colds, the most common being the rhinoviruses. The virus spreads through coughing, sneezing and touching things that have been handled by a cold sufferer and mainly affects the lining of the nose and throat, sometimes spreading to the chest with sore throat, congestion, cough, headache, sneezing and tiredness the predominant symptoms.

One of the defining symptoms of a cold is congestion which makes us feel ‘blocked up’ and restricts our breathing. Mucus has a protective function in the respiratory system, acting as a barrier to foreign particles and bacteria and carrying them out of the body when we sneeze, cough or blow our nose. In a cold though, the build up of mucus may become a breeding ground for bacteria with its moist, nutrient rich environment which is why it’s helpful to assist the body to clear this excess congestion during a cold.

Herbs For Congestion Relief

To loosen phlegm and help expel excess mucus through coughing or clearing the throat:

  • Elecampane (Inula helenium)
  • Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
  • Pelargonium (Pelargonium sidoides)
  • Sundew (Drosera longifolia)
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – also suitable for an irritating dry cough often at the end of a cold.

Note that Licorice may exacerbate symptoms of fluid retention or high blood pressure in some people so seek professional advice if these symptoms are present.

Herbs For Cold Prevention

Useful to take for the purpose of supporting our immune system and preventing colds:

  • Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
  • Echinacea root (Echinacea angustifolia/purpurea)
  • Elder Berry (Sambucus nigra)
  • Withania (Withania somnifera)

Other Tips for Good Immune Health

Of course, our lifestyle plays a role in whether or not we enjoy robust immune health. Eating a healthy diet with lots of fresh, unprocessed food lays the foundation for good health. :

  • Get 6-8 hours sleep every night
  • Eat a balanced diet consisting largely of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts and seeds.
  • Drink at least two litres of water a day
  • Manage your stress. Regular massages, long walks and taking time out to relax and do things you enjoy can all help reduce stress and its impact on the immune system.
  • Exercise – we all know it’s important but how much do we make it a part of our lives?
  • Zinc and vitamin C are helpful nutrients to support the immune system. Zinc is found in shellfish and red meat with pumpkin seeds being a high vegetarian source. Vitamin C is high in red capsicum, guavas, kale, broccoli, kiwifruit and citrus with Kakadu Plum (an Australian native) being the highest source.

Need Further Help?

Book an acute case consult and have a personalised herbal formula made up specifically for your needs. If recurrent colds and chronic immune issues have been troubling you or your children for a while, a full naturopathic consultation is advised to look at all aspects of your health picture.