by Dr. Ben Kim
September 23, 2010
Dr. Ben Kim is a chiropractor and acupuncturist living and working
in Barrie, Ontario, Canada.
Visit his website at
The next time that you experience a cold or the flu, remember this:
giving your body plenty of rest while allowing the cold or flu to
run its course is good for your health.
Conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical industry would have you
believe that there is no "cure" for the common cold, that you should
protect yourself against the flu with a vaccine that is laden with
toxic chemicals, and that during the midst of a cold or flu, it is
favorable to ease your discomfort with a variety of medications that
can suppress your symptoms.
Unfortunately, all three of these positions represent a lack of
understanding of what colds and flus really are, and what they mean
to your body.
Colds and flus are caused by viruses. So to understand what colds
and flus do at a cellular level, you have to understand what viruses
do at a cellular level.
Do you remember learning about cellular division in grade seven
science class? Each of your cells are called parent cells, and
through processes of genetic duplication (mitosis) and cellular
division (cytokinesis), each of your parent cells divides into two
daughter cells. Each daughter cell is then considered a parent cell
that will divide into two more daughter cells, and so on, and so on,
and so on.
Viruses are different from your cells in that they cannot duplicate
themselves through mitosis and cytokinesis. Viruses are nothing but
microscopic particles of genetic material, each coated by a thin
layer of protein.
Due to their design, viruses are not able to reproduce on their own.
The only way that viruses can flourish in your body is by using the
machinery and metabolism of your cells to produce multiple copies of
Once a virus has gained access into one of your cells, depending on
the type of virus involved, one of two things can happen:
The virus uses your cell's resources to replicate itself many
times over and then breaks open (lyses) the cell so that the newly
replicated viruses can leave in search of new cells to infect. Lysis
effectively kills your cell.
The virus incorporates itself into the DNA of your cell, which
allows the virus to be passed on to each daughter cell that stems
from this cell. Later on, the virus in each daughter cell can begin
replicating itself as described above. Once multiple copies of the
virus have been produced, the cell is lysed.
Both possibilities lead to the same result: eventually, the infected
cell can die due to
Here is the key to understanding why colds and flus, when allowed to
run their course while you rest, can be good for you:
By and large, the viruses that cause the common cold and the flu
infect mainly your weakest cells; cells that are already burdened
with excessive waste products and toxins are most likely to allow
viruses to infect them. These are cells that you want to get rid of
anyway, to be replaced by new, healthy cells.
So in the big scheme of things, a cold or flu is a truly natural
tool that can allow your body to purge itself of old and damaged
cells that, in the absence of viral infection, would normally take
much longer to identify, destroy, and eliminate.
Have you ever been amazed by how much "stuff" you could blow out of
your nose while you had a cold or the flu? Embedded within all of
that mucous are countless dead cells that your body is saying good
bye to, largely due to the lytic effect of viruses.
So you see, there never needs to be a cure for the common cold,
since the common cold is nature's way of keeping you healthy over
the long term. And so long as you get plenty of rest and strive to
stay hydrated and properly nourished during a cold or flu, there is
no need to get vaccinated or to take medications that suppress
congested sinuses, a fever, or coughing.
All of these uncomfortable
symptoms are actually ways in which your body works to eliminate
waste products and/or help your body get through a cold or flu. It's
fine to use over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen if
your discomfort becomes intolerable or if such meds can help you get
a good night's rest.
But it's best to avoid medications that aim to
suppress helpful processes such as fever, coughing, and a runny
It's important to note that just because colds and flus can be
helpful to your body doesn't mean that you need to experience them
to be at your best. If you take good care of your health and immune
system by getting plenty of rest and consistently making
health-promoting dietary and lifestyle choices, your cells may stay
strong enough to avoid getting infected by viruses that come
knocking on their membranes. In this scenario, you won't have enough
weak and extraneous cells to require a cold or the flu to work its
way through your body to identify and lyse them.
Curious about how to differentiate the common cold and the flu?
is an excellent summary of the differences from cbc.ca:
A cold usually comes on gradually - over the course of a day or two.
Generally, it leaves you feeling tired, sneezing, coughing and
plagued by a running nose. You often don't have a fever, but when
you do, it's only slightly higher than normal. Colds usually last
three to four days, but can hang around for 10 days to two weeks.
Flu, on the other hand, comes on suddenly and hits hard. You will
feel weak and tired and you could run a fever as high as 40°C. Your
muscles and joints will probably ache, you will feel chilled and
could have a severe headache and sore throat. Getting off the couch
or out of bed will be a chore. The fever may last three to five
days, but you could feel weak and tired for two to three weeks.
One final note on this topic:
because the common cold and the flu
are both caused by viruses, antibiotics are not necessary. People
who take antibiotics while suffering with a cold or flu often feel
slightly better because antibiotics have a mild anti-inflammatory
effect. But this benefit is far outweighed by the negative impact
that antibiotics have on friendly bacteria that live throughout your
In this light, if you really need help with pain
management during a cold or flu, it is usually better to take a
small dose of
acetaminophen than it is to take antibiotics.
How to Prevent a Sore Throat from Progressing to a Cold
You just won't get this information on why colds and flus can help
you stay healthy over the long run from medical textbooks and
mainstream media - please consider sharing it with family and
Although experiencing a cold or the flu once in a while can help rid
your body of your weakest cells, I'm willing to bet that there are
times when you would really prefer to delay such a period of
cleansing and malaise.
Here's how you can stand a good chance of preventing a cold from
As soon as you experience that sore, tickly feeling in your throat
that precedes a full-blown cold, gargle with warm salt water.
And when I say gargle, I mean really gargle; take in a mouthful of
warm salt water, look up at the ceiling, and gargle aggressively.
You may want to tap at your throat (the Adam's apple region) with
your fingers while you gargle to encourage the warm salt water to
trickle deeply into your throat.
Gargle like this several times with a glass of warm salt water, and
repeat as often as possible throughout the day.
Warm salt water can remove viruses from the tonsils and adenoids
that line the back of your throat region. Viruses that cause colds
and flus typically get caught by your tonsils and adenoids before
they spread through your body. Your tonsils and adenoids are
important parts of your immune system because they are located near
the entrance of your breathing passages, and they serve as a first
line of defense against undesirable airborne microorganisms and
This, by the way, is why it is best not to remove tonsils and
adenoids from your throat region. Chronic swelling of tonsils and
adenoids is best addressed by reducing sugar intake, adopting a
minimally processed diet that is rich in fresh plant foods, and
supporting immune system health by getting plenty of rest, exercise,
and exposure to sunlight and fresh air.
Cold salt water may also help to remove viruses from your tonsils
and adenoids, but warm salt water tends to be more effective. Warm
water may help to melt the fatty coating that protects viruses that
cause the cold and flu.
What if you gargle for all you're worth but still end up developing
a full-blown cold?
Get lots of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and take comfort in
knowing that countless viruses are at work destroying your weakest
cells. And don't forget to blow your nose as often as it runs; help
your body get rid of what it wants to get rid of.
Please share this basic health information on colds and flus with
family and friends; although it isn't readily available from the
annals of conventional medicine, this information can save you and
your loved ones significant time, money, and angst.