Homeopathic Remedies for the Winter/Spring Cold SeasonLinda Taylor, DCHM February 1, 2014
This is the season of the common cold, and with it comes coughs, fevers and congestion. In my practice, I often see patients coming in at this time of year with one or more of these symptoms. While many people’s automatic response is to turn to the aggressively advertised cold medications that mask the symptoms, homeopathy is a valuable alternative that can actually stimulate the body to heal itself.
Homeopathy draws from a vast array of plant, mineral, and animal substances which are diluted many times over and designed to trigger a healing response in different situations. In order to select the correct remedy, the symptoms of an illness are matched with the symptom picture of a particular homeopathic medicine. Classical homeopaths conduct in-depth case taking with each patient in order to explore a person’s deep constitutional nature, and then a remedy is selected which matches that person’s constitution. Homeopathy can also be used as a first-aid intervention when the signs of sickness appear.
In this article, we will look at specific remedies that may be useful in treating certain cold symptoms, depending on the complete symptom picture.
Coughs associated with colds are the body’s natural defense intended to clear the airways of unwanted mucus and irritants. Before taking a cough suppressant – which may impair the body’s natural defense system – you may want to first allow homeopathy to help provide relief by supporting the immune system with the right natural remedy.
The fact is, not all coughs are the same; nor are their cures. Dry coughs usually produce no mucus and include an irritating tickle in the throat, while loose coughs produce a great deal of mucus and may involve a rattling in the breathing and in the cough. Other coughs involve episodes of violent and prolonged spasms. In each instance, the best homeopathic remedy will vary. For example:
1) In the case of a dry and severely painful cough felt in the whole head and chest, which is worsened by swallowing, bending the head back, becoming overheated, or sitting up from a lying down position – for this I’ve had the most success with homeopathic Bryonia;
2) In the case of a dry, tickling cough accompanied by a chest infection, laryngitis and hoarseness that involves a great thirst for cold water, is made worse by going from warm to cold air, and improves with warmth and with lying down on the side – for this my favourite remedy is Phosphorous;
3) For a loose, rattling cough with shortness of breath and distinct rattling when breathing in and out – try Antimonium tart;
4) For a tickling cough accompanied by scant, difficult expiration which may vanish for periods of time during the day and return at night – my favourite remedy is Causticum.
Fever develops either as a result of external factors such as infections, or internal factors such as auto-immune disorders, and is the body’s natural defensive response. For many people, a fever below 102°F (38.8C) is not too serious; however, such a fever in infants, small children, the elderly, or those with serious illnesses can be a danger sign, and, as with any higher fever, medical advice should be sought immediately. Meanwhile, it is useful to differentiate the nature of the fever when considering the best homeopathic remedy for such a low grade fever. For example:
1) For a fever that strikes suddenly following exposure to cold air or wind, is worse at night, is temporarily relieved by sitting up and breathing open air and is accompanied by fear, anxiety and a great thirst – my favourite remedy is homeopathic Aconite.
2) In another type of fever, the head is hot but the body and hands are cold. This fever may come and go, is worse after midnight, generates much restless anxiety, and the person wants to sip at warm drinks – for this, my favourite is Arsenicum.
3) In the case of a sudden, intense fever, possibly including delirium, the face may be brightly flushed and the eyes glassy with dilated pupils. In this instance, the person may also have a sore, bright red throat, thirst for sour drinks, and the fever may worsen with motion, light or noise – for this, my favourite homeopathic remedy is Belladonna.
These are only a few examples. Much depends on the person’s overall symptoms and general constitution when choosing the remedy for fever.
This condition occurs when swelling of the membranes of the nasal passageways takes place. This is a frequent symptom of a cold and it makes breathing difficult. Locating the correct homeopathic remedy may largely depend upon the nature of the discharge, the presence of crusts and scabs, as well as the other symptoms most often described as “a stuffed nose.” Here are different options to look at:
1) One remedy I frequently prescribe for complete nasal obstruction that is worse in the cold and better with heat, is accompanied by a nasal tone of voice and thick, stringy mucus, is Kali-bichromicum.
2) Another favourite of mine for nasal obstruction that tends to be one-sided only, and where the mucus runs by day and is blocked at night and may be accompanied by chills and irritability, is Nux-vomica.
3) Still another I might choose when there is dryness in the nasal passages, mouth, throat and palate, and crusts and scabs may be present in the nose as a result of such dryness, is Sticta.
Needless to say, the choice of a remedy depends on the full nature of a person’s symptoms. For this reason, a full homeopathic case-taking is always needed before choosing the best homeopathic remedy for your cold symptoms, or for you constitutionally.
Linda Taylor, DCHM (Hons) is a Classical Homeopath practising in Oakville, Ontario. She may be reached at (905) 844-7246 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Homeopathy ~ An Effective Treatment for Influenza
Robert Ullman, ND and Judyth Reichenberg, ND, LCSW
The public health approach to dealing with influenza locally and globally, promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO), is to vaccinate populations against influenza on a yearly basis or whenever pandemics threaten, and to treat with antiviral drugs and supportive care to reduce mortality. These measures can be quite helpful, but are insufficient to prevent a pandemic from spreading globally.
The main problem is the vaccines are developed using existing viral strains that take time to develop and mass produce. By the time the vaccines are available for mass inoculation, the viruses may have spread widely or mutated enough that the vaccines are rendered partially or totally ineffective. With resistant strains of influenza virus, the antiviral drugs may also only be partially effective, if at all.
How can homeopathy be of help in such a potentially bleak scenario? Primarily because the effectiveness of homeopathy is not dependent on the nature of the virus itself, which is changeable, but on the individualized or group selection of homeopathic medicines that match the characteristic signs and symptoms of the illness with which the virus is associated. For homeopathy to be effective, the homeopathic physician does not even have to know that the cause of a particular patient’s illness is a virus. What is necessary are the observable and reported symptoms of the patient. A brief interview and examination of 15-30 minutes can determine which homeopathic medicine is required for an individual patient. Epidemics (or pandemics) tend to have a common set of characteristic symptoms, which most affected patients will exhibit. Usually this will boil down to a choice between two or three homeopathic medicines, of which one will match the majority of cases. The homeopathic term for this most effective medicine is the ‘genus epidemicus.’
Paul Herscu, N.D., did a pilot study in the 2007 influenza season, in which he determined the genus epidemicus to be Nux Vomica, based on the intense chills and high fever which the researcher noted in many of the study patients who were diagnosed with influenza. He extrapolated this to the 2008 season which presented with very similar symptoms, and even provisionally to the current swine influenza pandemic, believing that all three influenza outbreaks were similar enough that Nux vomica would be the primary remedy useful in treating patients with influenza. See a synopsis at www.hersculaboratoryflu.org/research/2007_1.html
In epidemic infectious diseases of the 19th and early 20th century, homeopathy was quite successful in treating such frequently fatal infections as cholera, typhus, yellow fever, and smallpox. In epidemic after epidemic, the homeopaths were able to save the lives of a far greater percentage of patients than other doctors.
In the Spanish Flu of 1918, now known to be a form of swine influenza, as many as 100 million deaths were reported worldwide. Dean W.A. Pearson of Philadelphia, as reported in an article published in the Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy in May 1921, collected 26,795 cases of influenza treated by homeopathic physicians with a mortality rate of 1.05%, while the average reported loss by allopathic doctors was 30%. The International Hahnemannian Assn. collected 17,000 cases treated by homeopathy with only a 4% mortality rate. Allopathic physicians used large doses of aspirin as the primary medicine to treat the influenza outbreak. Homeopaths disparaged this practice, and attributed some of the deaths in patients they treated to overuse of aspirin prior to homeopathic treatment, while patients treated only by homeopathy in the first 24-48 hours usually survived.
In that influenza pandemic, the two homeopathic medicines used in the most cases were Gelsemium, still a very common medicine prescribed in the first stage of influenza cases today, and Bryonia alba, most often given in the later, more respiratory stages of influenza. The third most common medicine used was Eupatorium perfoliatum, which is characterized by such aching in the muscles and especially the bones as though they would break. The Gelsemium state typically presents with extreme fatigue with muscular weakness, dizziness, drowsiness, dullness and trembling.
This article is excerpted from a longer piece, posted on Vitality’s website at: http://vitalitymagazine.com/article/homeopathic-medicine-an-effective-alternative-for-influenza-pandemics/