A cold, supposedly so named because of the incorrect assumption that they occur because of cold weather or being cold, is in fact an infection caused by any of around 120 viruses known as rhinoviruses (after the Latin rhinus for nose).

There is, in fact, no such thing as a cold; it is a collection of symptoms: headache, sinus pain, running nose, blocked nose or sore nose, sore throat, cough, aching, general lethargy and tiredness. The cold is therefore a combination of a number of these symptoms.

We are further away from finding a cure for the common cold than we are for cancer, and I suspect that this will continue to be the way because the cold viruses mutate and change and our immune systems are not capable of keeping up with the speed of alteration, so we cannot fight these viruses easily. Interestingly, as we get older our colds become less frequent as we build up our immunity to the 120 rhinoviruses.

Colds rarely need medical intervention, although advice from a homeopath as to the correct remedy and the attention of your GP for too frequent or recurrent colds (to rule out anything underlying or nasty) may be required.

Colds are often the body’s method of triggering its seasonal defence mechanism and we should all expect and ‘enjoy’ a cold at the start of winter and at the arrival of spring.


Review from your favourite homeopathic manual the following common homeopathic remedies: Allium cepa, Gelsemium, Bryonia, Pulsatilla, Dulcamara and Mercurius. Once the correct remedy is selected, use potency 6 every 2hr.

Consider the use of high doses of vitamin C, vitamin A, bioflavonoids, zinc and magnesium at doses twice those recommended on the packaging and taken with food. Zinc should be taken at a dosage of 5mg per foot of height before bed.

The herb Echinacea can be taken in doses recommended on packaging.

Ginger drinks (with honey and lemon) made from fresh root ginger (half-inch chopped up) and hot water should be drunk and the steam inhaled.

Avoid heavy exercise. The concept of sweating out a cold is not correct.

Ensure good hydration by drinking twice as much water as you normally do. The mucus and sweat will double your insensible water loss.

Good old chicken broth soup replenishes fluids and provides protein for repair. The chicken cartilage may actually have an antiviral effect as well. ‘Starve a fever and feed a cold’ is an accurate adage and, provided your cravings are healthy, go with them.

Nasal washing with mild saltwater solutions can speed up the process of decongestion and the removal of the virus.

Do not consider the use of decongestants, either topically sniffep or taken orally, because this will stop the immune system’s destruction of the virus and increase the chances of more serious infections, such as middle-ear infections, labarynthitis, sinusitis and even meningitis.