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A Holistic Approach to Cold & Flu Season

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Photo courtesy CDC Photo courtesy CDC

A homeopathic kit in your home and a class on how to treat acute illnesses empowers you. You can avoid staying up all night coughing or making those trips to the pharmacy for cold and cough medicines, but most importantly to avoid taking antibiotics. When you do catch a cold or the flu, you can treat yourself and you will soon become confident in your ability to recognize the remedies you and your children need. When your child wakes in the middle of the night with a fever and an earache, you will feel confident knowing you can treat the problem and see it resolve in an hour. Your child avoids suffering all night and most importantly avoids a week-plus long course in antibiotics. Just as you learn to manage your family’s budget, you can learn to manage your family’s acute illnesses.

Fever often accompanies infections. It may be the only apparent symptom in the early stages. Fever is often a beneficial phenomenon, as a warning of an infection, but also a part of the body’s defense against the infection. Elevation of body temperature reduces the growth of, and often kills, disease-causing organisms. It also stimulates the production of interferon, a chemical that inhibits viral reproduction and increases white blood cell mobility and activity to rid the body of bacteria and virus. Temperatures above 106 F are rare, can be harmful, and medical evaluation is needed.

In most cases, rather than worrying about the fever, one should pay attention to the illness responsible and try to aid the healing efforts of the body. As long as the fever isn’t too high, the fever is best left to continue its work as part of the body’s effort to heal. Rest and plenty of liquids to replace the body fluid lost due to sweating along with an appropriate homeopathic remedy is all that is often required.

Homeopathic belladonna and aconite are the best medicines to try during the first stages of a sudden fever. The symptoms that indicate homeopathic belladonna are a red, flushed face, intensely hot skin, reddened mucous membranes, and glassy eyes with dilated pupils, and often deliriousness. The skin can be so hot you notice the heat lingering on your hands after you touch it. There is often restlessness and agitation. Children may hit or bite.

Homeopathic aconite is indicated when the fever comes on suddenly and the patient is anxious, restless, and fearful or when the fever comes on after exposure to wind and cold. Mentally the patient is alert, unlike belladonna, but often frightened. Often the patient is hot and has a thirst for large amounts of cold drinks.

Homeopathic Ferrum Phos is a medicine that may be needed early in a fever when symptoms develop gradually rather then suddenly as with belladonna and aconite. 

These remedies can be given every hour in the 30C potency until symptoms abate.

Influenza or the flu is an acute infection of the respiratory tract that is of viral origin. Symptoms of the flu are runny nose, cough, fever, general weakness, and muscular aching. The patient looks and feels more ill than if he or she had the common cold. The flu often lasts three to five days in healthy people, but the severity varies from year to year and from person to person. Regular, seasonal flu can be life threatening for the young and the elderly. Homeopathic treatment speeds recovery and substantially reduces the discomfort.

The symptoms indicating homeopathic gelsemium are classic for the flu and should be considered if you can’t find a better fit. The person feels tired, weak, heavy, and sick. Often they want to be left alone, not because they are irritable, but because they are too weak to interact. The eyelids are heavy and droopy and the face dull lacking expression. Chills are common running up and down the back.  Typically there is little thirst in spite of the fever. A runny nose, sore throat, and headache are also common.

Homeopathic bryonia should be considered instead of gelsemium when we see physical aggravation to motion, irritability, and aversion to company. The patient lies still because it hurts to move with muscle and joint pain. Even moving the eyes can be painful. They have an intense thirst for cold drinks often with a dry hacking cough and constipation.

Homeopathic rhus tox is indicated when the muscles are achy after lying still for a while. The patient feels worse when trying to move after being still for some time, but the pain subsides after moving for a short time and limbering up. Sleep will be difficult because it is too uncomfortable to keep still. They are likely to be chilly and their aches and pains better when external heat is applied. Dry mouth and lips, sore throat and hoarseness often accompany the other symptoms.

Homeopathic eupatorium peroliatum is indicated when severe aching and pain is felt as though from deep within the bones, especially the back. Often we see a runny nose, red eyes preceding body aches. Often the patient has chills between 7 and 9 am and a great thirst for cold drinks which can result in nausea.

Homeopathic oscillococcinum is a remedy to consider in the early stages of the flu when there are few distinguishing symptoms.

(Editor’s note: the 2009 H1N1 flu has acted differently than seasonal flu, and caused severe illness in people not normally considered ‘at risk’ from seasonal flu. Although not currently circulating in the U.S., it is believed it will return in January or February. Visit the CDC website on flu (www.flu.gov) for information, and consult a medical professional if you believe you have contracted this flu.)

Coughs occur when the body reacts to viruses infecting the lower airway, including the throat, trachea or bronchi. A cough may be shallow or deep, dry or loose depending on the location and severity of the infection and on the strength of the person’s healing defenses. A cough tends to last longer than a head cold,  but the person almost always recovers on his own. Croup is caused by a viral infection of the voice box and breathing passages of the upper chest and is characterized by a harsh, loud, barking and ringing cough. Bronchitis is caused by inflammation of the bronchi, the large breathing tubes that lead from the trachea to the lungs. The associated coughs are lingering and fairly severe accompanied by fever. Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs that interferes with breathing with a deep and rattling cough.

Homeopathic belladonna, aconite and ferrum phos are often helpful and should be applied as described above.

Allium cepa (red onion) is a remedy that responds well to the symptoms that red onion creates when preparing it in the kitchen. There is a profuse, bland tearing of the eyes with a burning nasal discharge and often frequent sneezing  with a tickling of the larynx that leads to a dry cough so painful it makes the person grasp the throat while coughing.

Bryonia is used when the cough is dry and spasmodic and is painful when breathing deeply and moving. The person may need to press his hands to the chest to limit movement when coughing.

Causticum is a common remedy for laryngitis when there is a constant desire to clear the throat, often due to post nasal drip. The person tries to cough more deeply in an effort to dislodge mucus deep in the chest and is often worse first thing in the morning.

Spongia is the  most common remedy for the croup with a barking and harsh cough that sounds like a saw through a dry pine log.

Drosera is a remedy with a dry spasmodic cough that is also barking or ringing. There is often a tingling or tickling sensation that excites the cough in spasms and is worse by eating or drinking.

The cough that indicates Rumex is not croupy or barking but shallow and is set off by breathing cold air and becoming chilled. Even small temperature changes that may occur from walking from room to room may set off the cough.

Each of the remedies discussed has its own particular characteristics, sensations, and modalities. After taking a course on prescribing acute homeopathic remedies and experimenting for a short time, you can become confident and proficient prescribing for yourself, family and friends. Homeopathy is also effective for chronic conditions like depression, asthma, fibromyalgia, and arthritis, but needs to be prescribed by a professional homeopath.

I offer four-week courses that meet twice a week in the evenings and sell homeopathic kits with the most commonly used remedies. Acute homeopathic prescribing is a skill that parents find useful and empowering. Call me to learn more. Chris Rinehart CHOM, CCH Certified Homeopath. 208-610-0868

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Sandpoint Wellness Counci Sandpoint Wellness Counci The Sandpoint Wellness Council is an association of independent, complementary wellness practitioners located in Sandpoint dedicated to holistic health care. Pictured are: Owen Marcus, Penny Waters, Robin and Layman Mize, Ilani Kopiecki, Krystle Shapiro and Mario Roxas

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