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Alternative Health Blog

Sauna Can Help Prevent and Shorten Common Colds

Last week’s news brought some hope about treating the common cold, or at least that’s what the headlines promised. But drill down on the story, which explained that gene tracking allowed for discovery about how colds so rapidly spread, and you get to the quote from a doctor saying, well, it might mean we have four or five drugs to treat the common cold.

Great, just what we need, more cold medications.

Let’s review some basics about how to prevent colds and treat them when they charge uninvited into our business meetings, school days, family gatherings, workouts, you name it. One is wash your hands—a lot during cold season and a lot the rest of the time. A landmark University of Wisconsin studies show that colds are passed on mostly by hand and in turn that hand touching a mouth. Leave yourself out of that chain reaction by washing your hands for at least 25 to 30 seconds with warm water and soap (proven to be most effective in research at Northwestern University). No soap? Not a huge problem. The main germ-killing action is to rub your hands together while wet.

Time out for a statistic: The typical American adult develops one to three real doozies of a cold each year. The typical American adult with school-age children has six to eight doozies. Hand-washing, people, especially you parent people.

A number of studies have documented the value of hot chicken soup. It works and it is a good way to get some fluids and nutrients when your taste buds have gone underground. Keep it up, but doublecheck that label to make sure you’re not consuming MSG in the process.

One more note for any cold sufferers who belong to a health club: Skip the day’s workout when you are feeling particularly drowsy or sneezy (your treadmill buddies will appreciate it). But make time for the sauna. Research suggests the dry heat might speed recovery and even stop a cold from developing. A proviso: Anyone with circulation or heart issues needs to first check sauna use with a health practitioner.

An Austrian study tracked two groups of volunteer adults over six months. The control group did not use sauna while the experimental group sat in the sauna regularly. At the end of the half-group, the sauna group had contracted fewer colds. A closer look at the data revealed the sauna’s preventive effect was even more pronounced during the second three months of the study, suggesting your body can accumulate benefits from the sauna.

Bob Condor blogs for Alternative Health Journal every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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Contributor Profile

Contributor Since:
August 13, 2008
Bob Condor
Along with bringing the latest news and trends about alternative health, Bob will help you get the most of your Internet health research.  Bob is the Living Well Columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.He covers health and quality of life for the Hearst-owned newspaper and writes regularly for national magazines. He is a former syn...
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