Natural remedies are our primary and almost exclusive recommendation for seasonal ailments. We encourage our clients to educate themselves and prepare ahead so they are equipped when and if they face these exceptionally inconvenient circumstances.
Although the common cold or influenza can be extremely debilitating during pregnancy, it should not be a threat to you or your baby. If you have a prolonged fever or particularly high fever however, you should consult your nurse-midwife or medical practitioner.
Recommendations for Management
Rest alone, at the start of a viral or bacterial infection can help shorten its duration.
Mouth breathing at night can dry out your respiratory system and if you have an illness, this is particularly irritating. A vaporizer or humidifier can improve symptoms, although avoid the “cool misters” as they are not only less effective, but can breed bacteria.
Some foods are best avoided during a cold, as they can actually create more mucous during a respiratory illness. The biggest offender, cow dairy. Milk, cheese, yogurt and ice cream can make mucous thicker and more abundant, coating the back of the throat creating a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses. Other foods that can contribute are wheat products and for some people, particularly children, citrus juices. Stay away from smoke.
Extra water is important for thinning secretions and eliminating bacteria. Aim for half your weight in ounces of water or a cup of fluid every two hours, even more if you’re feverish. Avoid alcohol, carbonation and caffeine. Warm fluids can encourage white blood cell activity, enhancing healing. A Lemon-Ginger Echinacea drink can be found in most health food stores, or a glass of water with honey and lemon can be soothing.
Saline nose sprays are made of salt water, similar to your body’s own fluid, and can help moisten your nasal passages, clearing mucous and bacteria. If you can pry the top off the bottle, adding 5 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract can greatly enhance its anti-bacterial effect. Don’t share nasal sprays and throw them away after an illness. Resist over-the-counter medicated nasal sprays as they are addicting in as little as three days.
Echinacea is an herbal supplement that is believed to boost the immune system to help fight infections. Tincture form seems to work better than capsules. When sick use 2-3 droppers full in about 1 ounce of water or juice, taken 3-4 times each day. If you are using it as a preventative, use 1-2 droppers full once a day, for one week a month during the winter. Evidence suggests echinacea as a safe pregnancy option.
Some studies support zinc as an antiviral. This mineral apparently helps prevent the formation of certain proteins the cold virus requires to reproduce. It doesn’t appear to prevent colds but can shorten the duration of a cold and reduce the severity when taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Dilute grapefruit seed extract into the saline nose spray, 5 drops in 1.5 ounce bottle, or gargle with 10 drops diluted in about 1/2 cup of water. Grapefruit Seed can also be taken orally (10 drops to 1 cup of water or juice) 2 to 4 times each day. There is also a pill form which you’d take as directed on the bottle – less if just feeling like you’re getting sick, more if you’re already sick.
Vitamin C can both reduce symptoms, shorten the duration of a cold, and one study suggests it can even prevent colds. The suggested dose is 250mg every 2 to 4 hours if you are sick, with the maximum daily intake of Vitamin C for adults is 2,000 milligrams. If you have loose stools, take less frequently.
Grandma was a smart woman. Chicken soup may help cold symptoms in more than one way. Inhaling the steam can ease nasal congestion. Sipping spoonfuls of fluid can help avoid dehydration. And some advocates say the soup may soothe inflammation. Researchers have also found chicken soup to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Drinking hot tea offers some of the same benefits as chicken soup. Inhaling the steam relieves congestion, while swallowing the fluid soothes the throat and keeps you hydrated. Black and green teas have the added bonus of being loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants, which help fight colds. Try lemon balm, chamomile, or elderflower and, in moderation, ginger or dried yarrow. However, avoid yarrow during the first trimester.
Garlic has long been touted for legendary germ-fighting abilities. Some take garlic capsules, others swallow garlic cloves whole, and still others favor garlic lemonade. Simply boil water for lemonade and then seep four or five cloves for twenty minutes within the water. Remove cloves and mix in freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey. Take with vitamin C for an additional boost.
If you are experiencing sinus pressure, there are a few tricks that can offer relief.
Craft a bean bag, or make a simple version with rice in a tube sock. Leave enough room to tie a knot at the ankle. Heat in the microwave and place over your sinus area while you rest. The Red Raspberry Boutique offers a nice bean bag with flax seed, rice, rosemary, camomile, lemon grass, and lavender flowers.
An ounce of dry rosemary or 3 drops of rosemary essential oil in a pot of boiling water can help open sinuses. Stir and cover 5 minutes, then take off the heat and sit over the steam, breathing it in. You can put a towel over your head to hold the steam in, but be careful not to get burned.
Pressure points can provide relief for sinus pressure as well. Massage the inner corners of your eyebrows, the middle of your eyebrows and the cheekbones beside the opening of your nose. Press and massage for one minute for relief.
The Neti Pot, an invention from India, helps wash out mucous that you cannot blow out. Simply add warm water and pour through your nose, up one nostril and out the other. Using it every day lessons colds as it washes away viruses and bacteria before they have a chance to set-up residence in there.
A few tricks for chest congestion include Mullein leaf tea or tincture, massaging pressure points on your chest where your ribs attach to the breastbone, and kelp 1-2 every few hours with a glass of water.
Sore throats can be relieved with elderberry syrups or lozenges, slippery elm lozenges or sprays which can help numb, and a salt water gargle (one teaspoon of salt per cut, gargle, letting the water get as far back into the throat as possible). The Red Raspberry Boutique offers slippery elm Throat Coat tea, as well.
If your ears feel congested, blocked or ache a little, use Olive or Lavender oil Ear Drops (diluted in olive oil). Do not use if eardrum is perforated or you have ear tubes.
Allergies are yet another reason many suffer the above symptoms. Natural remedies and some of the food eliminations mentioned below can greatly relieve symptoms.
Pantothenic Acid (PA) which is a B Vitamin and Vitamin C with bioflavinoids has been suggested to assist those with allergies. Take 25-30mg of PA and 250mg of Vitamin C with bioflavinoids, three times a day, for the first three to five days, then as you notice improvement in symptoms, decrease to two times a day for three to five days, then try once a day. If a seasonal allergy sufferer, take these vitamins once or twice a week on the “off” season and when the “on” season approaches, symptoms should be controlled with either once a day dosing or even every other day.
Avoid diary foods, wheat and maybe even citrus. Try an elimination diet by taking out all of these foods for at least a month, and then add them back, one at a time. The fewer processed foods you eat, the healthier your body, the less you should experience allergy symptoms.
Let your fever work. It is your body’s natural remedy for actively fighting colds and the flu by making your body inhospitable for germs. Endure a moderate fever for a couple of days to get better faster. Stay well hydrated. Call your provider if your fever is more than 101 if pregnant, and 104 if it doesn’t come down quickly with treatment while non-pregnant. In newborns 3 months or younger call their provider for any fever greater than 100.4. Children with a fever less than 102 usually don’t require treatment unless they’re uncomfortable.