Thursday, August 18, 2011
Blessings of the Common Cold
One of the reasons I tend to allow colds and other minor ailments to run their course is because I believe the process of resting, drinking lots of liquids, and blowing a whole bunch of bacteria-laden mucus out of my head (sorry to be so graphic) helps make me healthier than I was before the cold. What I mean is, the cold is not the problem, it's the solution, forcing me to slow down, get sufficient sleep, avoid coffee and alcohol, and take a break from the usual frenzied routine of life in the 21st century.
I worry about people who say they never get a cold. Though I try not to focus on it, I can't help but wonder what's festering in their bodies. It's not a pleasant thought, so I try to avoid it, but sometimes all the boasting people do about never having colds brings extremely unsavory images into my mind.
I wonder about cold remedies, both "natural" and ... unnatural? (are over the counter decongestants "unnatural?" Not sure.) Ads for both kinds of products suggest taking the remedy "at the FIRST SIGN of a cold." The ads suggest that we cut the cold off at the knees, baby, nip it in the bud, do everything you can to circumvent the process of rest and cleansing. One interesting thing about these ads is that they refer only to the SYMPTOMS of a cold, never to the root cause itself which is, according to "western" medicine, a virus. Viruses are impervious to all cold remedies, so really now, what is the point? I see people all the time who are suffering from colds, but all jacked up on Dayquil or zinc or some such. They look so miserable. Maybe they aren't sneezing, but they are not well! Holy cow.
One of my very great healers in San Francisco was a master homeopath. He thought of symptoms as the body's way of expressing itself. He said it's best, when sick with a cold, to let the symptoms express themselves for three days. After three days, if I was still sick, I would go see him at which time he would place a sweet powder under my tongue. Within an hour I would be completely recovered. It was magic.
My point here is that I'm not convinced catching a cold now and again is a sign of bad health or a faulty immune system. There are some seasons when I catch every cold that comes around - that's a sign of imbalance, definitely, for which I would go see my acupuncturist asap. But catching a cold once or twice over the winter? I think it's a sign of a fully functioning, resilient, self-cleaning body.
I hope all my praise for the common cold does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy, like calling in sick at work, then actually getting sick. Perhaps I'm being overly superstitious. So be it.