Why Drinking Water is SO Important when you have a cold: Our naturopath’s opinion.


I'm writing about this and yes, I have the dreaded lurgy. 

I usually have a good immune system – and it takes an absolute doozy of a virus to catch up with me.. and then I suffer, a lot.  This one? I got it after my flat mate decided, whilst in the middle of coughing up copious amounts of phlegm, that drinking milk straight from the bottle was a reasonable idea.  (Something I didn’t find out until well after my morning coffee!)

So here I am a week later and my eyes feel like billiard balls. 

I haven’t really slept for three days due to not being able to breathe.   I continually cough up copious amounts of horrible greeny yellow stuff.
Blowing my nose looks and feels even worse. 
The skin around my nose is raw, and the skin around my eyes feels excoriated. 
My head and neck ache and I just want to go back to bed. 

Other than that? Fine thanks.

Drinking Water? Really?

When there are so many things available and recommended for coping with and recovering from a cold, it may seem that drinking water being the most important thing is possibly er… simplistic.

Don’t get me wrong.
I am taking lots of other things as well. 
Herbally there is andrographis, ginger and garlic for the immune system. 
Nutritionally there are vitamins A, C, D and E.  The mineral list includes zinc, selenium and magnesium. 
Then there is some quercetin and bromelain and papain, all of which are really helpful enzymes.  O h, and a probiotic of course.

But, above all of this I am drinking copious amounts water. 

My strategy is partially because my nutrients are in powder form so they work quicker.  Some of it is in honey and lemon drinks. 
Some of it is with my herbs and straight after the herbs, because liquid herbs are never going to taste great. 
Especially andrographis. 🙁

And then on top of that, glass after glass after glass of water.

I guess I should explain about all of the above.

Andrographis is much like echinacea, being that it is really good for building up the immune system and helping fight an infection. 
But Andrographis works better on me than echinacea does. 
Ginger is a great circulatory stimulant and that helps, but mainly I take it as it can support a fever. 

The whole point of having a fever is to raise the body temperature enough that the virus dies.  Ginger helps the body do this.  Garlic is really good, right at the source at killing cold viruses.  For me the garlic is raw and crushed and eaten as straight as I can. 

No, it doesn’t smell great, but when you have a cold no one wants to be around you anyway, so the garlic smell doesn’t really matter.

Now to the minerals. 
Zinc because you simple can’t build an immune system without it. 
Magnesium because I am coughing a lot and getting a few aches and pains, and it's good at reducing the pain. 
Selenium is one that often gets overlooked when it comes to colds and flus.  Viruses love selenium and will gobble up all the selenium they can get their hands on; then the virus thrives and reproduces frantically in a selenium deprived environment. 

If you aren’t into supplements, then brazil nuts are a great source.  In fact I am eating a few as I write.

Vitamins A, C, D and E won’t prevent or cure a cold on their own, but..you can’t make immune cells without them.

The aforementioned enzymes work as anti-inflammatories which is important because, as the itis in sinusitis suggests, there is a lot of inflammation going on, (as the pain attests). The digestive enzyme papain helps break down any phlegm you have swallowed.  The quercetin helps the body take up vitamin C.

But the main thing is the water. 
All of the congestion, whether in my head or on my chest is thick and horrible.  To make it easier for the body to get rid of it, it needs to be much thinner.  The way to thin it out is by drinking water. 

Ok, granted, having a constantly runny nose isn’t fun, and neither is the raw, dry, tender skin around my nose.  But it's greatly preferable to the pain of congested sinuses.! You can take all the cold and flu tablets you like to reduce the pain, but if you don’t drink the water, when the drugs wear off you will still have the reason for the pain.  If it moves to the chest, just how much effort do you want to have to put into coughing it back up?  If you are dehydrated then it is going to be thick and yukky and much more tiring to get rid of.

If you have a sore throat then swallowing lots of water is going to hurt (that’s where the honey and lemon drinks come into it), but then so is coughing.  I want each cough to be as productive as possible.  This reduces the overall amount of coughing as each cough is doing more.

I always find it odd that if I have a fever, or even just a bit of a raised temperature, that the last thing I want to do is drink water. 

When I most need it, I have to force myself to do the easiest and cheapest thing I can do.  The raised temperature means I am losing more fluid through perspiration than normal. 

I have a headache, and some of that headache is dehydration.  I have some major congestion going on. 

But do I do the most useful thing?  Not as much as I should.  And I know really well that I need to.  That knowledge is of no help at all.

I have a theory as to why this happens.  (I’m great for a theory.  I have absolutely no evidence to support my theory what so ever.  It’s just what makes sense to me.)  I think that the virus really wants to live so it uses every influence it can and creates an environment in which it can thrive.  Even when every other symptom of dehydration is screaming at us to drink more fluid.  I know it sounds like I have lost my mind. 

But just how well do we think when that is most conducive to our survival?  So, it somehow influences our thirst reflex to not we are ill?  Not very.

I got to my theory by thinking about moulds and parasites. 
Moulds and parasites are able to influence the animals around them.  Most haunted buildings have a lot of a particular mould in the most haunted places.  Who is going to clean the walls of the haunted house?  Not me that’s for sure.  The mould continues to thrive.

Toxoplasmosis is a parasite found in cats, and yes it can be spread to humans.  But when it is in mice it does something really interesting.  You see, this little parasite only breeds in cats, and that is where it is most happy.  But it has to get from one cat to the next.  It does this by infecting mice.  It affects the mice brains making the mice unafraid of cats.  The mice now find the smell of the cat highly desirable.  Making it really easy for the cat to catch the mice. 

Mouse dies, cat eats it, cat gets infected, parasite lives on happily in a new host.

If moulds and viruses can affect the minds of animals around them, why can’t a virus?  Even if its effect is only something as basic and unimaginative as the thirst reflex.

Enough of my theory. 
The main point is that the most important thing I have to do is keep the fluids up.  I find that keeping a tally of how many glasses I have drunk helps.  I look at it and realise I have only had two glasses and immediately have another. 

I know it sounds too simple, but I have to do something to prod me along as my thirst reflex isn’t working.

At the moment the virus is winning, but I’m wise to its tricks.  So I think I will go and get another water.